In barely a century’s time, the population of the United States has more than tripled, to 313 million. We are a clattering, opinionated cluster of nearly all the world’s races and religions, and many of its languages, under one flag.
You would not know any of this looking at who is voting in one of the strangest presidential primary campaigns in history. There is no other way to put this without resorting to demographic bluntness: the small fraction of Americans who are trying to pick the Republican nominee are old, white, uniformly Christian and unrepresentative of the nation at large.
So far, three million voters have participated in the Republican races, less than the population of Connecticut. This means that 89 percent of all registered voters in those states have not participated in what is, from a horse-race perspective, a very tight contest.
Yes, we know Republicans don’t like their choices; it’s a mehprimary. But still, in some states, this election could be happening in a ghost town. Less than 1 percent of registered voters turned out for Maine’s caucus. In Nevada, where Republican turnout was down 25 percent from 2008, only 3 percent of total registered voters participated.
This is not majority rule by any measure; it barely qualifies as participatory democracy.