Wondering how we got here again, with Florida being a voters’ hell of anti-democracy and Ohio attaching non-certified “tabulators” to voting machines that Tagg Romney has a piece of?
This is what happens when Democrats, young people and minorities sit out the midterms.
In Florida during the 2008 election, 8.4 million people voted. In 2010, only 5.3 million voted. Margin of victory for Rick Scott? 1.2%. This in spite of the fact that voters knew that Rick Scott was the head of a company forced to pay the biggest fine in history for defrauding Medicare and other government programs. Reform? He is a Tea Party candidate. Only they would vote for a criminal and think it would work out well.
In Ohio, Kasich was elected by 23.5 percent of registered voters and only won by 2%. His Democratic opponent, incumbent Gov. Ted Strickland, was winning in all of the early polls. Voters were allegedly unhappy with the economy and the state budget, and the race tightened.
Remember when the Tea Party got everyone to think that the deficit was the reason to vote for people with criminal experience or a Fox News Channel host? Yes, Kasich had some experience in government in the House, but he had been a Fox News host for six years. Both probably should have been a clue that election time would be trouble under him.
Nate Silver wrote about the “enthusiasm gap” that hurt Democrats in 2010. It was 8 points in Ohio and Wisconsin. That was enough to usher in Walker and Kasich, who have each done their best to destroy voters’ rights in their swing states.
When you break down the data, minority and Democratic turnout fell in 2010. Having reliable turnout machines like Obama has plays a big role in getting voters to the polls. Nate Silver pointed that out in 2010, “What we’re probably seeing, then, is the “hangover” from the Mr. Obama’s turnout efforts in 2008. In states like Ohio and New Hampshire and Indiana, where Democrats registered tons of new voters and made sure that all of them got to the polls, a lot of them didn’t participate this time around.”
Young voter turnout fell 60% from 2008 to 2010. “51 percent of 18- to-19-year-olds voted that year. In 2010, polls showed that young people were still supportive of Obama and the Democrats. But only 20.9 percent of them bothered to vote.”
They didn’t vote because they were unhappy with congress and unenthused about the candidates, but guess what that got us? A much, much worse congress. When young people vote, they tend to vote Democratic. This is why Republican governors hired in 2010, when those same young people sat out the election, have been working so hard to disenfranchise young people (college students) from voting.
I won’t get into how Democrats allowed themselves once again to buy into the Republican narratives against the change they sought. That is for another day, but it goes to show that morale is worth a lot. This is why Republicans work so hard to kill Democratic morale. It works.
Many voters only think of showing up in presidential elections. Let’s hope that the widespread abuse of voting rights in 2012 will wake voters up to the necessity to vote in every single election, and be sure to fill out the entire ballot even though it’s a real chore. If you must, think of it like taking the trash out instead of thinking you’re going to get something great. It will pay off.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.