Low Primary Turnout Predicted In California, New Jersey, Three Other States

Wisconsin isn't the only state with an election on Tuesday. Five others are holding presidential primaries.

But while the effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker (R) and his political allies has garnered national attention, and Wisconsin state authorities predict turnouts near general election level, other states are expecting far more modest results.

California's presidential primary turnout could set a state historical low, according to a Field Poll report released Tuesday.

The report estimates that, at most, 35 percent of California's registered voters will cast ballots on June 5, undercutting the state's previous low of 41.9 percent in the 1996 presidential primary.

A key reason for voters' lack of enthusiasm is the irrelevance of the top-ticket race: The Democratic presidential primary is not contested, and Mitt Romney decisively clinched the GOP nomination when he won last week in Texas.

Voter disinterest is also driven by the lateness of the California primary, which was pushed back this year from its previous date in March, and the absence of hotly competitive Senate races or controversial ballot propositions.

The four other states with Tuesday presidential primaries -- Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota -- also foresee lower turnout.

The most optimistic prediction came from Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch, who said she is expecting "a good turnout" in line with past primaries.

In New Jersey, Monmouth University political analyst Patrick Murray predicted the state would likely see voter turnout below 20 percent. South Dakota pollster Brian Sanderoff told the Associated Press to expect turnout slightly lower than the state's average of 28 percent of voters.

The auditor of South Dakota's Pennington County, Julie Pearson, estimated 25 percent of registered voters would show up, but told the Rapid City Journal that she would love to be proven wrong. "We'll have enough ballots," she said.