In March the low voter turnout among Democrats in the Texas caught my eye as I noted in the post Where are the Democrats?. Wendy Davis was still relevant and Lyndon LaRouche disciple Kesha Rogers ran strong enough to force a run off. In other word this was a contested primary for both Democrats and Republican. Notwithstanding that the Democrats stayed home. The numbers below tell the story. Republican turnout was more than 2 to 1! Admittedly Texas is a bright red state but at that time Wendy Davis was thought to be competitive.
|W. Davis||79%||429,025||G. Abbot||91.5%||1,208,744|
|R. Madrigal||21%||114,181||L. Fritsch||4.4%||58,140|
|D. Alameel||47%||235,704||J. Cornyn||59.4%||771,935|
|K. Rogers||21%||108,868||S. Stockman||19.2%||247,425|
|All Others||32%||155,823||All Others||21.4%||278,664|
Wondering if the Texas primary was an aberration, I focused on the Illinois March 19 primary. Governor Pat Quinn's nomination was contested and on the Republican side the race was wide open. In a post I noted that in Chicago less than 19,000 voters under age 45 went to the polls. That's horrendous! The statewide total were;
Governor GOP - Primary -- 10,073 of 10,130 precincts reporting (99%)
Bruce Rauner 325,792 40%
Kirk Dillard 302,920 37%
Bill Brady 122,762 15%
Dan Rutherford 61,447 8%
Total vote cast 812,921
Governor Dem - Primary -- 10,083 of 10,130 precincts reporting (100%)
Pat Quinn 314,085 72%
Tio Hardiman 122,868 28%
Total vote cast 436,953
Deep blue Illinois showed the same Democratic voter apathy as bright Red Texas!
JMC Enterprises of Louisiana has done the analytics of voter turnout in 14 states where there have been contested races in both parties and the finding suggest the Democrats are looking at a rerun of 2010 but worse.
Voter participation has declined 15% but not in bipartisan fashion. For Republicans 4% fewer voters went to the polls but turnout among Democrats was down 29%! One can see rather quickly that if this trend continues into the fall election even "safe" Democrat seats are in peril. In 2010 55% of primary voters were Republican and 45% Democrat. In 2014 the gap has increased to 63% Republican to 37% Democrat.
Let's look at a few states that have contested senate races. In Arkansas where Tea Party Republican Tom Cotton is challenging Mark Pryor for the senate 54% of Republicans voted in the primary compared to 30% in 2010. In Georgia where Michelle Nunn hopes to take the open senate seat Republican turnout inched up from 63% in 2010 to 65% in 2014. Republican voter turnout is also up in Illinois, Kentucky, and West Virginia.
Contested primaries encourage voter participation. The large turnout in the 2008 presidential election was driven in no small part by the prolonged primary battle between Obama and Clinton. Similarly Mitch McConnell's primary bout with faux Tea Party candidate Matt Bevin boosted Republican primary participation from 40% in 2010 to 47% in 2014. Remember in 2010 Kentucky sent Rand Paul to the senate.
Much can change between now and the election but there are more downside risks for the opposition than for Republicans. States have yet to announce the increases in Obamacare insurance premiums yet it's safe to bet there will be no price decreases. The IRS scandal will be back in the headlines by week's end when two federal judges may force the IRS to allow outside investigators to look for Lois Lerner's lost emails. The crisis in the middle east shows little sign of improvement and illegals are amassing at the southern border. If that's not enough throw in the VA scandal and possible news emanating from the select committee on Benghazi. Simply winning the senate seems like a far too modest goal given the circumstances. Republicans will win big!