Open Left‘s Chris Bowers comments on the limp Democratic turnout in yesterday’s primaries and urges the DNC to commission some polling to find out what’s behind it. Bowers notes, via Hotline on Call a disturbing decline in Democratic voters, compared to figures for the ’06 mid-term elections:
Just 663K OH voters cast ballots in the competitive primary between LG Lee Fisher (D) and Sec/State Jennifer Brunner (D). That number is lower than the 872K voters who turned out in ’06, when neither Gov. Ted Strickland (D) nor Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) faced primary opponents.
…in IN, just 204K Hoosiers voted for Dem House candidates, far fewer than the 357K who turned out in ’02 and the 304K who turned out in ’06.
Worse, the GOP turnout numbers were up dramatically, according to Hotline:
By contrast, GOP turnout was up almost across the board. 373K people voted in Burr’s uncompetitive primary, nearly 9% higher than the 343K who voted in the equally non-competitive primary in ’04. Turnout in House races in IN rose 14.6% from ’06, fueled by the competitive Senate primary, which attracted 550K voters. And 728K voters cast ballots for a GOP Sec/State nominee in Ohio, the highest-ranking statewide election with a primary; in ’06, just 444K voters cast ballots in that race.
Bowers notes that “This is more than just a demographic problem based on age–there really is a meaningful enthusiasm gap,” and urges the DNC to make a smart investment with some of the $30 mill it has pledged for mid-term GOTV this year:
…There are still no public, national polls looking for answers on why Democratic turnout is so low. All it would take would be to ask a single, open-ended question to 500 people who voted in 2008, but self-identify as unlikely to vote in 2010, “why don’t you intend on voting?” Everyone has theories, but those theories lack empirical supporting evidence…
…Surely, they could spend a little of that money on a transparent, representative, scientifically random, poll of unlikely voters of the sort I listed above. A lot of people are going to be working to try and improve turnout this year, and our jobs would be a lot easier if we actually knew what was motivating unlikely voters.
It’s a good idea. The DNC should take nothing for granted in budgeting midterm GOTV expenditures, and certainly not rely on unverified speculation about the specific reasons for the Dems’ mid-term voter enthusiasm decline.