As Massachusetts gears up for Super Tuesday, Secretary of State William Galvin predicts a higher Republican turnout than in 2008, the last time there was a presidential race without an incumbent.
“It was around 500,000 in 2008. This time I think it could go as high as 700,000,’’ Galvin, a Democrat, told Boston.com.
The overall Massachusetts voter turnout will be 1.8 to 1.9 million, Galvin predicted, which is about the same or higher than the 1.8 million people who voted in the 2008 primary.
The Democratic vote could be the same or slightly lower, likely around 1.2 million, Galvin said.
Massachusetts is one of 12 states voting on Super Tuesday.
Why the uptick in Republican votes?
“You might say that the Romney-McCain fight was kind of a tennis match,’’ he told the State House News Service on Monday. “This is kind of world wrestling.’’
A Suffolk University Republican primary poll released Saturday showed real estate mogul Donald Trump leading with 43 percent of the vote to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s 20 percent and Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s 17 percent.
Galvin said nearly one-third of the approximately 85,000 voters who have asked for absentee ballots took Republican ballots.
“Independents are requesting absentee ballots, which may be a clue that there’s interest on the Republican side,’’ he said.
The Boston Globe editorial board recently published an editorial titled, “Massachusetts voters must stop Donald Trump,’’ urging Massachusetts independents voting in the Republican primary to cast a vote against Donald Trump.
The Democratic contest is taking “a more gentle approach’’ this time, Galvin said.
“There isn’t the same intense passion there was in 2008’’ during the historic race between Barack Obama and former First Lady and U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, he said.
According to a Suffolk University poll released Sunday night, Clinton has the support of 50 percent of likely Democratic primary voters in Massachusetts, leading Sanders’ with 42 percent.
There are 4.27 million registered voters in Massachusetts — 35 percent registered Democrats, 11 percent registered Republicans, 53 percent unenrolled, and the remainder are third-party candidates.