I guess Michael Bennet won his primary in Colorado yesterday, but his winning total of votes came in under both GOP contenders. The Connecticut Governor’s primary featured just 20% Democratic turnout. While I’ve seen a lot of talk about the positive results for Democrats in last night’s primaries, it seems to me the story is about the lack of participation on the Democratic side. Similarly, a new poll out of Ohio featured this set of quotes:
(Reuters) – Ohio Republican Rob Portman holds a narrow lead over Democrat Lee Fisher in a Senate race marked by voter worries about a stumbling economy and high unemployment, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday [...]
The poll confirmed national surveys showing Republicans have a big advantage in enthusiasm about the election, with 75 percent of registered Republicans in Ohio certain they will vote and only 52 percent of Democrats certain about voting.
That could dramatically boost Republican turnout for November’s congressional elections, which typically have a lower turnout without a presidential election to build interest.
“There is no momentum and no energy at all in the Democratic base,” Clark said.
In certain states, tea party Republicans have nominated supposedly “unelectable” candidates, but an election without enthusiasm or energy in the Democratic base will naturally make anyone with an R next to his or her name electable. That’s especially true because the traditional midterm electorate features an under-representation of the voters who put Obama into office in 2008:
Will all of those young, enthusiastic Obama voters turn out in 2010? If history is any guide, probably not. Older voters are historically more likely to cast ballots in midterm elections than are voters under the age of 30. And this year, they are already more enthusiastic than younger voters about the coming campaign.
Those older voters are most likely to say the country is on the wrong track and to disapprove of the way both Congress and President Obama are doing their jobs, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted this summer.
This shows, as much as anything, that voter mobilization actually works, especially in capturing those drop-off voters. The organizing strategy of many Democratic-leaning groups is to find those voters and get them to the polls in November. But you need to provide some motivation for that to work, and the current state of the economy saps that almost completely.