This item by J.P. Green was originally published on November 10, 2012.
We know you’re sick of politics and you would like to give it a rest for a while. But Michael Tomasky’s post, “The Obama Coalition in the Off Years” at The Daily Beast has one of the best ideas yet for the mid-term elections, and you should check it out before it fades off the political radar screen. Noting that 2012 voter turnout was near 60 percent, Tomasky explains:
Some rich liberals need to fund a public-education group that will work full-time to make sure the liberal blocs and constituencies come out and vote in off-year elections…And off-year turnout is down around 40 percent. The 20 percent who leave the system are almost entirely Democrats. This has been true all my life. It’s basically because old people always vote, and I guess old white people vote more than other old people, and old white people tend to be Republican. So even when white American isn’t enraged as it was in 2010, midterms often benefit Republicans.
Conceding the exceptions of ’98 and ’06, Tomasky continues,
As long as this is true, the country’s progressive coalition will spend forever taking one step forward in presidential years, and one step back in off years. But imagine if the Obama coalition had voted, even in decent numbers, in 2010. The Democrats might still well have the House.
If liberal blocs can be conditioned in a generation’s time to vote in every federal election, well, combine that with what we know to be the coming demographic changes, and the electoral pressure on Republicans would be constant and enormous. The Republican white voting pool has limits, so the GOP would have to compete even harder for brown and black votes, which would pull our politics even more to the left.
A long-term project along these lines would be $20 million (or whatever) very well spent for some rich liberal who cares about changing the country.
Tomasky’s idea has added appeal, considering that in 2014 an unusually high number of Democratic senators will be up for re-election in red and swing states (6 for each). As for the House, Cameron Joseph notes at The Hill:
On the House side, while Democrats will have some opportunities at districts they missed out on in California and elsewhere, heavily gerrymandered GOP maps in states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin and North Carolina will continue to limit their opportunities.
Democrats tend to live in more urban areas, concentrating their votes into fewer congressional districts, and legally required “majority-minority” districts further pack Democrats into a few districts and make nearby districts more safely Republican.
According to a recent study by the Center for Voting and Democracy, Democrats start off with 166 safe districts while Republicans start off with 195. There are only 74 true swing districts where the presidential candidates won between 46 and 54 percent of the popular vote, down from 89 before redistricting.
That means the GOP needs to win less than one-third of competitive House seats to stay in control — something that shouldn’t be too hard to accomplish, barring a huge Democratic wave. In a politically neutral year Democrats are likely to have around 203 seats, a number that’s only slightly higher than the number they’ll have once the remaining 2012 races are called.
In addition, it’s just possible that some of the creative GOTV techniques Dems deployed so successfully this year could be transferable to the 2014 mid-terms. In any case, meeting the challenge of making the next mid-term electorate resemble this year’s general election demographics could help insure that progressive change replaces continued gridlock and stagnation.