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The Republican primaries have been drawing record high turnout, while turnout for Democrats have dropped far below what the party saw in 2008.

While Democrats may be looking with glee at the public infighting among Republicans caused by the success of controversial GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump, they should not get too smug since Republican voters are going to the polls in record numbers.

Another concern is that Trump could be right in his claim that he is expanding the base of the Republican Party.

The overall low Democratic turnout in the races so far should concern party leaders especially if the trend holds true for the November election.

While no one knows for sure if the primary turnout is a prediction for what will happen in the fall, the low turnout in the primary should give party leaders reasons to pause.

Yet there are many reasons why primary turnout is not always a prediction of what will happen in the general election.

In general, Republican voters tend to be older, better-educated, wealthier white people who tend to participate more in primaries than Democrats.

Still the lower turnout could be a sign of a lack of enthusiasm that Democrats should be concerned about.

In 2008, Barack Obama built a coalition of African-American, Latinos, white liberals and young voters that helped build a record turnout. It remains to be seen whether that coalition will transfer to the next Democratic nominee.

Another challenge for Democrats is that since 2008, many Republican-controlled states have enacted photo identification laws and other legislation that could reduce voter participation among groups that traditionally vote Democrats: young voters, immigrants and the poor.

If Democrats want to have voter turnout on Election Day, the next Democratic nominee must show that there is a meaningful policy differences between himself or herself and the Republican nominee, and the Democratic Party must do more to improve voter education and mobilization among African Americans and other traditional Democratic voters.

Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune

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