In five of the six years in our data set, the party that had a smaller vote share margin between its nominee and runner-up — that is, the one with the more competitive contest — had higher turnout. Indeed, the difference in margin for the two winners and the difference in raw turnout for each party had a fairly high correlation of -0.81. The only year in which turnout was higher in the less competitive primary was in 1976, when Jimmy Carter won just 40 percent of the primary vote and had serious competitors until the end of the primary calendar. Both sides were quite competitive that year.
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