Where is your enthusiasm level compared to what it was leading up to the midterms?
I’m genuinely curious where you are, so I hope you’ll leave a comment. On social media, I’m seeing a mix of things. On one hand, seeing Trump get acquitted (but not exonerated!) in the Senate was a real letdown. I’ve seen the same thing happen after some of the other big fights we lost, like Kavanaugh ending up on the Supreme Court.
But just like then, I feel like I am already seeing a bit of a pushback from voters. There have been some passionate responses along the lines of, “Just WATCH what we do at the polls!” Also, I was taken by surprise by how popular my post from yesterday was, when I declared that the only people left to save the country from devolving into a dictatorship is us. Before I logged off last night, it had already been shared over 7,000 times.
But then, the news out of Iowa was that turnout was only as good as it was in 2016, far short of the record turnout the caucuses saw back in 2008. I don’t have the exact numbers so I can’t compare to what the turnout was in 2018 for the midterms, but it did seem concerning. It then occurred to me that having a half a dozen candidates still in the running for president might be part of the issue. Not that there’s anything wrong with our candidates — I mean, as a friend of mine says, we’ll crawl over glass to vote for a can of soda over Trump — but more that there is uneasiness that we don’t have a clear nominee yet and it’s February of 2020.
I think it’s important to get folks across the board excited right now, though. Long before we may have a definitive nominee. And I think the way to do that is to focus on the down-ballot races. Look at how excited we were to vote for the midterms. There was no president being elected, yet we turned out in droves. The excitement around flipping the House was palpable. We all need to start being more excited and eager to talk about voting for amazing candidates up and down the ballot. The Senate, the House, and the state legislatures. We, the people, can drum up a lot of interest in voting in November and we can do it now. Not to mention the fact that these down ballot races are the positions that actually affect our lives more than the executive does.
Here’s one of the best down ballot election videos I’ve watched in ages. For the first third of the video, you might wonder why I’m recommending it, but once the tables get turned, you’ll get it. I feel jazzed about November 2020 watching it, and hope you will too. Let’s get to work.
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I wouldn’t read too much into the low Iowa turnout. It is a caucus, not an election. People must actively participate beyond simply casting a ballot. Furthermore, the Obama phenomenon of 2008 was an aberration born from the desperate hope for a president who would lead the nation out of the Great Recession. That year was very much like the election of 1932 at the height of the Great Depression.
What I’ve been seeing since Trump became president is more structural. Suburban voters, especially women, have shifted strongly away from Republicans and towards Democrats. This trend began shortly after Trump took office, and it has since intensified. Last year’s elections in Kentucky, Virginia, and even in Mississippi, provide confirmation. Additionally, voter turnout among young people has also increased. These key demographic groups do not approve of Trump, and it’s a huge obstacle to his reelection chances.
However, Democrats could screw-up this inherent advantage. They need to regain the white working class vote in the Rustbelt (i.e. Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania) lost to Trump in 2016. They need to stop their idiotic and destructive quarrel between centrists and progressives. They need to continue speaking to “kitchen table” issues (e.g. healthcare, etc.), but they also need to inform voters about the existential dangers posed by a second Trump term.
The 2020 election will be different from 2016. Back then, the political dynamics favored Dems nominating a progressive candidate (i.e. Bernie Sanders); instead, they chose an unpopular establishment centrist (i.e. Hillary Clinton). Now, the political dynamics favor Dems nominating a likeable moderate candidate (perhaps Pete Buttigieg or Amy Klobuchar). To win the presidency, the Democratic Party must prioritize the mood of the electorate over their petty factional differences on ideology and other matters. So far, it appears that they are making the same mistakes once again.
Thank you for the thoughtful comment, Robert. I agree with you on many, if not all, points. When it comes to turnout, yes, Iowa is only one data point. I’m also factoring in turnout to special elections and those numbers have fallen off from what we saw leading up to the midterms. They’re not terrible, just not the high-water mark we were seeing an election cycle ago.
While I will vote for whomever runs against Trump, even if it’s Attila the Hun, and while I am fighting the good fight to help raise enthusiasm, to convince people that their vote this year is critical to the continuance of a relatively free nation, admittedly my own enthusiasm is not high at the moment. For one thing … too many candidates, the majority of whom have no chance whatsoever and should have dropped out by now. For another, the infighting between the candidates is not helpful. We need unity, not back-biting. For another, of course, is the fact that we have no reason to expect that this will be a fair and honest election … it won’t. So yes, my enthusiasm has dimmed, but I will still be leading the cheering section, for this is truly a matter of life and death … that of a nation. Thank you, by the way, for all that you do. I don’t visit as often as I would like, for my own blog consumes 12-14 hours a day of my time, but I do appreciate your efforts.
My enthusiasm has actually increased and I’m investing even more time on postcards and texting. These latest shenanigans made it absolutely clear that I’m working on the right side of history. Also, I don’t read or watch the news (guess what, I still learn about the big stuff anyway), which allows me to take calm, consistent daily action and focus only on things within my control. I suppose I have a Zen approach to all this, but that’s how I’ve been able to stay active this long without sacrificing my mental or physical health.
That’s great to hear, Sophia. I agree that the key is focusing our activities on those actions we can control. Thanks for chiming in!