The 2018 primary posted a higher percentage turnout than any primary since 2010.
Overall, the Secretary of State’s office reports 22.83 percent of Nevada voters went to the polls Tuesday — a total of 329,372.
Elections Division Deputy Wayne Thorley said that’s exceeded only by 2010 when 30.12 percent, or 320,648 voters, cast primary ballots.
Thorley says the key in both of those years was voter interest in one key race.
In 2010, it was the Republican primary to see who would face off against incumbent Democrat Sen. Harry Reid. That battle between Sharron Angle, Sue Lowden and Danny Tarkanian drew 18,995 more Republicans to the polls than turned out in Reid’s primary — 91,807 to 72,812.
Angle won the contest with 70,424 ballots.
In this past week’s primary, it was the Democratic battle between Steve Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani for the gubernatorial nomination that drew a crowd. A total of 101,927 Democrats voted there compared to 72,951 Republicans, a margin of 28,976. Sisolak won with 72,726 votes.
Both were banner years for a primary when far fewer people vote than in the November general election.
A key difference is the third largest pool of voters after the Democrats and Republicans — the nonpartisan voters who number more than 369,000 and are the deciding factor in most Nevada elections. Since they don’t get to vote in partisan primaries, few turn out until November.
In addition, minor parties including the Independent Americans and Libertarians don’t have primary elections. The party conventions themselves nominate a single candidate in each race.
Historically, Republican voters turn out in higher percentages in the primary cycle. In 2016, which was a presidential election year, the GOP accounted for 48 percent of primary voters compared to 43 percent for Democrats as voters decided between Donald Trump and a host of other Republican contenders. In 2014, a non-presidential year like this year, the margin was 53 percent Republican to 35 percent Democrat.
But this year, energized Democrats accounted for 46 percent of ballots cast and the GOP just 42 percent.
Carson City was the anomaly this primary election with just 25.7 percent turnout, down significantly from the 36.18 percent turnout in 2016.
A total of 2,068 Democrats and 2,775 Republicans voted. Two years ago, 4,802 Republicans and 2,704 Democrats voted in the primary.
But Carson City has significantly more registered Republicans than Democrats and, with no tight battles in the primary cycle and no Carson City local races up until November, there was much less incentive for them to vote this week.
In the 2010 primary, 51.6 percent of Carson voters went to the polls to decide between Angle, Lowden and Tarkanian.