Voter turnout shows Trump, not Sanders, leading a revolution

Story highlights

  • Republicans turned out in record numbers in almost every state hosting a Republican contests on Super Tuesday
  • But Democratic turnout has been depressed this cycle

(CNN)Bernie Sanders talks extensively about revolution, but it appears that it's actually Donald Trump who is driving record numbers of voters to the polls with his fiery populist message.

Republicans voted in unprecedented numbers on Super Tuesday, setting record numbers in contests throughout different regions of the country.
    Every state holding a Republican contest Tuesday -- with the exception of Vermont -- reached a new high for participation. But none of the state's holding Democratic contests broke any records.
    Texas, home to a battle royale between Trump and native son Ted Cruz, saw a whopping 2.7 million voters show up for the Republican contest -- 1.2 million more than the previous record in 2012.
    In Virginia, 1,013,000 voters -- almost 350,000 more voters showed up than the previous record-setting year, 2008. And in Georgia, 1,273,000 voted Tuesday -- more than 300,000 above the record set in 2008.
    That continue a trend this cycle of record-breaking Republican contests, beginning with Iowa and continuing in South Carolina, where Republican Party Chairman Matt Moore praised the 730,000 people who showed up a little more than a week ago, well more than the 603,000 South Carolinians who voted in the 2012 Republican primary.
    All of which helps explain why Trump was crowing about a "movement" in his victory speech Tuesday night. As Chris Christie stood by his side, Trump referenced part of the New Jersey governor's reasoning for joining his campaign.
    "When Chris gave me the honor of joining the campaign, he called me, he said 'Donald, what you've got is a movement,' " Trump said Tuesday. "He said, 'This is a movement; this is something like I've never seen.' And in all fairness to the press, a lot of the press have said the same thing. They've never seen what's happening right now. They've never seen anything like it. And I'm just honored by it."
    Sanders, who has been drawing large crowds throughout his presidential candidacy, has long spoken of leading his own political revolution.
    On Tuesday night, speaking in his home state of Vermont after picking up a victory there and in three other contests, Sanders noted his revolution is about "bringing millions of millions" of new voters to the polls.
    "What that revolution is about is bringing millions of millions of people into the political process. Working people who have been so disillusioned, they no longer vote. Young people who have never been involved," Sanders said Tuesday evening in his victory speech in Vermont.
    However, the numbers show he's coming up short of aspirations. States hosting Democratic contests Tuesday night did not set any records. Many did not see as large of turnouts as they saw in 2008, and some saw larger turnouts in the 1980s and 1990s, according to preliminary totals.
    Republican officials, on the other hand, were astonished by the Trump effect.
    "It is just phenomenal. We are roughly 50% higher than our next highest turnout in our history for an election like this," Alaska Republican Party Chairman Peter Goldberg told CNN's Paul Vercammen, regarding the 21,930 who caucused there Tuesday.