Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won New York State’s Republican presidential primary with ease on Tuesday, garnering a majority of the vote in an election that saw low voter turnout in Tompkins County.
With 91.3 percent of precincts reporting, Romney received 62.2 percent of the vote in the state. Texas Congressman Ron Paul came in second with 15.8 percent of the vote, followed by Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, and Rick Santorum, the former senator of Pennsylvania, who has quit the race.
In Tompkins County, Romney won 55.1 percent of the vote with 41 of 43 precincts reporting. However, only 1,132 registered Republicans in the county voted. 12,683 people were registered in the county as Republicans as of Oct. 19, according to the Tompkins County Board of Elections.
While New York was once considered pivotal to the Republican primary campaign, since Santorum suspended his campaign on April 10, the race has lost its suspense. However, since Santorum never filed paperwork to invalidate his candidacy, Santorum’s votes will still be counted toward delegates, a spokesman for the State Board of Elections told Gannett News Services.
Stephen Dewitt, Democratic commissioner for the Tompkins County Board of Elections, said he had expected a higher turnout, noting that the number of people voting was “very, very low.” He said that the low turnout could be attributed to the primary race being all but over.
In 2008, when the Republican nomination fight was still contentious, more than 30 percent of registered Republicans in Tompkins County voted, Dewitt said. However, he said he predicted before polls closed Tuesday that turnout this year would probably be in the “mid-to-low single digits.”
Janis Kelly ’71, chair of the City of Ithaca’s Republican Committee, said she did not consider the results surprising.
“We were not expecting a large turnout,” Kelly said. “It’s clear that in New York … Romney has it locked up.”
Kelly said that the low voter turnout did not reflect a lack of enthusiasm among Republicans for Romney. She said that reports of some conservative voters desiring another candidate to jump into the race largely originated from what she called the liberal bias of news media.
“I think that people that are hoping that the Republicans are going to fall apart … are going to be really disappointed,” she said.
After sweeping primaries in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York, Romney declared the primary race effectively over at a speech Tuesday night in New Hampshire. The contests were the first since Santorum’s exit.
“Mitt Romney is going to be the nominee, and I’m going to support the nominee,” Santorum told CNN.
Most political observers have said that Romney cleared his last remaining obstacle in his path to the nomination when Santorum dropped out. While Gingrich and Paul said Tuesday that they intended to remain in the race, Romney has a practically insurmountable delegate lead, as well as an enormous fundraising advantage. Additionally, nearly all party leaders have called for the party to refocus its efforts on the general election
Romney’s new status as the “presumptive Republican nominee” comes after a bruising primary season that saw a series of 43 primaries and caucuses, 27 debates and an avalanche of negative ads from every campaign. However, Kelly said that the drawn-out race for the nomination would not hurt Romney’s chances against President Barack Obama.
“[The debates were] a lot of open and honest discussions … I think that Mr. Romney is going to win. I’m not even sure it’s going to be close,” she said.
Kelly predicted that Romney will win in the general election because voters will favor his business experience and “charming” nature. However, she said that it was unlikely Romney will carry New York in the November election.
“I don’t think [Romney] will take New York .... but the electoral vote does not rely on New York,” she noted.