Mr. Woodring got me wondering if Dems really did sit on their hands in this general election. I haven't found a turnout breakdown by party on Secretary of State Chris Nelson's awesome results website yet. But we do have turnout figures by county as well as the final voter registration totals as of October 18, the final date to register for the November 2 vote.
Some quick number-crunching produces these correlation numbers:
|Correlations with turnout|
|...with GOP voters as percentage of county total ||0.689|
|...with % Dem||-0.642|
|...with % Indy||-0.285|
|...with total voter registration||-0.074|
Counties with higher proportions of Republicans (top five: Campbell, Harding, Haakon, Douglas, Jones) tended to have higher voter turnout. Counties with higher proportions of Democrats (the six Woodring listed are the top six) tended to see lower voter turnout.
Another view: Of the 29 counties where Republicans make up more than 50% of registered voters, 23 met or beat the statewide voter turnout of 62.3%. Of the 13 counties where Democrats make up a majority of the electorate (such places do exist in South Dakota!), five beat the statewide voter turnout average.
Turnout does not appear to correlate significantly with number of voters available. The ten counties with the most registered voters were all within four percentage points of the state average, six above, four below. The ten counties with the fewest voters varied much more, from 43.4% turnout among Buffalo County's 1050 registered voters to 83.7% turnout among Jerauld County's 1365 registered voters.
(Interestingly, folks in Jerauld are almost evenly split between the parties, with 614 Republicans and 608 Democrats. They broke for Daugaard 54-46, Herseth Sandlin 51-41-8.)
This result suggests the enthusiasm gap played a role in the results in South Dakota. Given two Democrats at the top of the ticket who ran away from the Democratic label, Democrats appear to have been more inclined to stay home Tuesday.