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Super Tuesday Voter Turnouts Similar to '08, But Republicans and Democrats Reversed

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In 2008, Democrats shattered voter turnout records in their epic presidential primary clash. This year is starting to look like a mirror image — but this time, with an advantage to the Republicans.

Image: Super Tuesday voters in Arlington, Virginia
Poll workers verify voters' photo identification cards on Super Tuesday in Arlington, Virginia. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

A tally of nine states where Democrats and Republicans both headed to the polls on Tuesday shows that total turnout looks much like it did eight years ago — but the numbers are reversed by party.

More than 5.6 million votes were cast in the Democratic contest on Tuesday in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia. About 8.3 million were cast on the GOP side in the same set of states.

(Those numbers are based on votes as they were still being counted Wednesday morning, which means that the totals will go up in the coming hours and days as the final tallies are tabulated.)

Below is the percentage change in voting totals this year compared to the previous record in all 15 contests so far:

Republican Turnout

Republican Turnout
Daniel Arkin / NBC News

But back in 2008, about 8.2 million votes were cast in the contest between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in the same nine states. On the GOP side, it was just about five million.

The high GOP participation on Tuesday echoes a pattern seen in the first four nominating contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — where Republican turnout has been higher and Democratic turnout lower than past years.

Related: Trump, Clinton Owe a Lot to These Two Voting Blocs

The turnout picture has been an oft-cited talking point for the GOP. Party leaders have pointed to the numbers as a sign of the party's energy and general election prospects — although often without mentioning the man who has won the most of those Republican primary votes: Donald Trump.

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