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April 12, 2006

Dems Can't Win If Nobody Votes For Them

-- by Dave Johnson

Kos linked to this quote from the National Journal,

The off-year 2002 vote was about 160K, with about 290K in 2004. If today's vote will be closer to 100K, that suggests something less than strong grass-roots enthusiasm.
Well I add the turnout up to about 128,000 people.

So now can you see the outlines of a Republican win this November?

Not yet? How about this Texas story, Low voter turnout isn't so bad,

At most, about 12,000 people voted Tuesday in Tarrant County.
And this one from Wisconsin, Low Voter Turnout,
County Clerk Bob Ohlsen says, except for Sun Prairie and the Monona–Cottage Grove areas, where there are school referendums on the ballot, turnout has been unusually low ... about 5 percent in most of the county.

And these from Missouri, Voter turnout low,

Despite several important races, only 5,447 voters turned out at the polls out of a possible 25,906. In the Spring Creek West district, zero voters showed up at the polls.
And, Randolph County voter turnout extremely low,
Results are in for the 2006 general election and several local governing boards have new leadership even though voter turnout tallied in at just 9.85 percent.
Now, combine those with this California story, New ID System May Block Voters,
Thousands of Californians who register to vote or update their records may not receive sample ballots or be able to vote as absentees because of the state's new method of verifying identities, election officials say.
If Demos don't - or can't - vote, they can't win. Even if the voting machines aren't rigged.

I frequently remind readers that those of us who read (and write) blogs are not like the rest of the public. We are hyper-informed. I think it is so important to understand that the ways we get our information and the kinds of information we retain are profoundly different from the public-at-large, and if we want them to think and act a certain way, we need to reach out to them in the places they are listening with stories and information they will "hear" and act on.

Obviously we're not getting through to them now. Not even to the ones who would naturally be on our side.

Posted by Dave Johnson at April 12, 2006 10:28 AM

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Comments

You delude yourself if you think people don't vote for dems because they are uninformed. The more I know, the less I want to vote for dems. A choice between dems and repugs is one between bad and awful. I confess I can't get too excited about that. Just like most Americans.

Posted by: richard [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 12, 2006 11:20 AM

What does it take to get the candidates out there listening to people?

I don't have any proof of this, but I suspect that people would turn out for somebody they have reason to believe will show up for them.

I recieved an invitation to a political event today for someone who is no longer my first choice so I thought that I would go to hear what he has to say and to address the reason he is no longer my first choice.

I got the invite because some of my friends are involved in it. Turns out, the bottom of the invitation has suggested donation amounts listed there so I decided not to attend because he probably doesn't give a damn what I have to say anyway.

If somebody who works as hard as I do for the progressive cause (without compensation or appreciation!) can feel that disenfranchised about an invitation, imagine what the grocery clerks, mechanics and short order cooks who weren't invited must feel like.

Posted by: grannyinsanity [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 12, 2006 7:51 PM

The low vote in Tarrant County is misleading. True there were only about 12,000 votes in a county with just over 900,000 registered voters. But this was a party primary run-off for both Democrats and Republicans. The primary was a month ago.

There were no hot races for which anyone campaigned hard in the run-off.

If Dallas can have a 500,000 person turnout for a hispanic march protesting national legislation, then the possibilities of turnout next door in Fort Worth (Tarrant County) may mean good turnout this Fall.

Still, here in Tarrant County we had the primary in March, the run-off in April, we will have a bond election in early April, and then the big election in November. The voters are already tired of elections here.

Posted by: Rick B [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 12, 2006 9:35 PM

There are a few different things going on here. First off, I think a lot of people ARE pissed off at the Bushies. Even those who don't read blogs (e.g. Cheney being booed at Nationals game) get that these guys profoundly suck. But that doesn't mean that the turnout for local dogcatcher is going to increase. If there was a popular referendum to recall Bush/Cheney, I can guarantee you massive turnout.

Second, and these articles may not be good examples, but I suspect we are going to see a flurry of stories leading up to November explaining why Democrats may not see gains at the polls despite the horrific poll numbers of the GOP candidates. Why? Because on election day, when Democrats inexplicably lose race after race, there will need to be a plausible explanation for the shocking GOP turnaround.

In 2004, Rove managed to spin that (a) he had fired up the religious right base to come out in droves, (b) Bush voters were reluctant to tell pollsters (even exit pollsters) of their support for Bush. Hence Bush's inexplicable victory over Kerry.

That Democratic leaders' first reactions are often to completely adopt GOP talking points (e.g. "our failure to talk about values led to Bush's mandate-victory") rather than questioning the legitimacy of elections in America accounts for a good deal of the animosity that is felt towards them by grassroots Dems.

Posted by: space [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 13, 2006 1:03 AM

People used to say "if voting could change anything, they'd make it illegal." I'm terribly afraid that many folks have concluded that voting can't change anything. Very specifically, in precinct walking last fall in a heavily Democratic area, voters actually said things like " I did it last time; I did it the time before -- we still have Bush. I'm not going to do that again." We are seeing some conscious withdrawal from an unresponsive system.

Posted by: janinsanfran [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 13, 2006 10:07 AM

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