Will primaries attract voters?

The presidential race will drive voter turnout in November as it always does every four years.

But what about the primary?

For Republicans, President Donald Trump was the lone Republican to qualify as a candidate in Ohio.

Trump will attract some people who will vote in the primary just to show their support for him.

For Democrats, it’s kind of messy right now.

There are 10 Democrats whose names will appear on the March 17 primary ballot in Ohio, and you can also write in Andrew Yang.

However, Yang is out of the race, as are two of the candidates whose names will appear on the ballot: U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

With 14 states having primaries Tuesday, March 3 — called Super Tuesday — and six more having primaries or caucuses March 10, expect other Democrats to get out of the race before Ohio’s March 17 primary. Three other states — Arizona, Florida and Illinois — also have primaries on March 17.

If the Democratic presidential race is still unclear by March 17, it will attract more of that party’s voters to the polls.

If the race looks like a runaway, turnout will be very low.

Even though about half of the states will have voted before March 17, I’m doubtful the Democratic presidential race will be determined. But it probably will be down to two or three viable candidates by then.

Stephanie Penrose, Trumbull County Board of Elections director, expects turnout in that county to be 45 percent to 50 percent.

Thomas McCabe, Mahoning County Board of Elections deputy director, said turnout in that county will be much lower: between 30 percent and 35 percent.

Mahoning County Democrats face no contested races during the primary besides president.

For Mahoning Republicans, the only races on the ballot are for the 13th and 6th Congressional Districts.

The 13th District race has seven candidates and should be interesting, but how many people will come out just to vote in that race? It also means that a small number of Mahoning Republicans will help determine their party’s nominee in the 13th to challenge U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Howland, in the general election. The 13th also takes in parts of Trumbull, Portage, Summit and Stark counties.

There is little interest in the 6th District primary that has U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson running against Kenneth Morgan, a virtual unknown.

Three local tax levies appear on the ballot in Mahoning County. I doubt an Austintown Township 0.6-mill renewal levy is going to bring more than a handful of people out to vote.

Turnout is expected to be better in Trumbull County because of other contested primaries including a county commissioner race — for both Republicans and Democrats — as well as county engineer and the Ohio House 63rd District for Democrats and Ohio Senate 32nd District as well as the 13th and 14th congressional districts for Republicans. There are also three local additional tax levies.

Then there’s early voting, which began Wednesday.

Early voters in Ohio could be casting ballots for candidates who won’t be around by March 17. That reality may keep some people from voting early, particularly the first few weeks.

On top of all of that, the Mahoning Valley isn’t likely to see many of the Democratic presidential candidates visiting in the days leading up to the primary. Several of them will be out of the race by then. Also, more delegates are to be had on March 17 in Florida and Illinois than Ohio, and candidates coming to this state will focus on Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati if history is any indication.


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