Four years later and primary-less, the Washington Republican caucus turnout peaked at just under 51,000 voters yesterday. As a point of comparison, roughly 12,000 turned out for the Republican caucuses in 2008.
With more voters than in recent history, the 2012 caucus set the stage for another interesting comparison: How did Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, who both ran in 2008, fare in 2012?
Overall, both candidates increased from 2008 to 2012: Romney went from 15.5 to 37.6% of the total votes in the state, and Paul increased from 21.6 to 24.8%.
In most of the bigger counties, Romney and Paul both had a 2012 boost at the polls.
In King County, Romney rocketed from 14.7 to 47% between 2008 and 2012, and Paul went from 17 to 25.2%.
Moving to the south, in Pierce County, Romney increased from 20.1 to 37.9%, and Paul gained a few percentage points moving from 19.7 to 22.6%. And in Thurston County, Romney shot up from 16 to 40.4%, and Paul improved by almost 10 points, increasing from 16.6 to 26.4%.
Up north in Snohomish County, Romney again had a dramatic jump from 13.3 to 42.4%, and Paul edged up slightly from 21.5 to 24.9%.
Eastern Washington, however, showed notable, increased support for Romney in 2012 with lower numbers for Paul.
In Spokane County, Romney increased three-fold from 9.1 to 30%, but Paul’s percentage was almost cut in half from 46.6 to 26.5%. That means Paul went from first in 2008 to third in 2012, and Romney went from last to first.
And in Benton County, where reportedly hundreds were turned away because of capacity issues in Kennewick, Romney increased from 25.2 to 43.4%, while Paul decreased from 23.9 to 18.4%.
The biggest increase for Romney from 2008 to 2012 came from Adams County. Adams County boasts the highest percentage of Mormons in the state at 12.7%. However, this didn’t seem to help Romney four years ago. In 2008, Romney racked up 0% of the votes in Adams County and a whopping 58.3% in 2012.
Now, to be completely honest, in 2008, there were only 31 votes cast. Of those, 14 went to John McCain, 9 to Mike Huckabee, 5 to uncommitted, and 3 to Paul. In 2012, there were 103 votes that broke down as follows: Romney with 60, Rick Santorum with 28, Paul with 9, Gingrich with 4, and 2 leftover as undecided.
Going from 0 to 60 in four years is (a) the slowest car ever, and (b) not the most inspired jump for a candidate running for president of the entire United States. However, as we have seen in the caucuses and primaries of 2012, a few votes can make a big difference. Santorum squeezed past Romney by only 34 votes in Iowa, and in Maine, Romney edged past Paul with 194 votes.
Two things are decidedly different in 2012: First, voters turned out in a big way to support Romney in Washington State. Second, on the national scale, every single vote counts this time around.