Saturday, March 05, 2016

Is Democratic turnout up or down?

Charles Kuffner has the numbers that indicate local turnout is just fine in historical context, even if the 2016 Blue Team scoreboard is about half the Republicans'.  In the national analysis, a few poli-sci profs have been quoted in recent days as saying there's nothing for Dems to worry about.  Two links for your deeper dive, one from NPR and one from AMERICAblog, with the abridged version being "competitive primaries increase participation and uncompetitive ones don't'.  One pull-quote:

These circumstances tell us a lot about why turnout is what it is in the parties’ respective primaries, but they tell us very, very little about what voter turnout will look like in a Trump/Clinton general election. A more telling predictor is the fact that the general election is likely to be polarized to epic proportions, which on balance has been shown to increase turnout, among other forms of political participation. The causal story for this jives with everything we know about rational political behavior: When voters perceive a greater difference between two candidates, there are greater benefits and costs associated with the outcome of the election. This increases the incentive to cast a ballot for one candidate or the other.

That's all reasonable enough.  I still contend that a universe of Americans where about half the population is not registered to vote, and the other half don't show up at the polls on a regular basis isn't very healthy for democracy, but none of the system's players really care about that or intend to do anything about it.

The duopoly and its enablers in the corporate media would rather see everyone quarreling over the personalities involved; not so much the actual policies.  That is, until they tire of that.

Markos “Kos” Moulitsas, founder of the Daily Kos, a popular liberal web site, wrote a blogpost on Friday asking the site’s community of writers, readers and commenters to begin moderating their criticism of Clinton starting on March 15, in the likely event that Clinton solidifies her hold on the nomination with additional primary wins. 
If Sanders does not turn the tide, Moulitsas wrote, “then on March 15 this site officially transitions to General Election footing. That means, we will focus our attention not just on Donald Trump or his rivals, but also on the Senate, the House, and state-level races.” 

Markos tipped this shot across the bow earlier in the week when he called people who suggested that Hillary was winning primaries in states she would lose in the general election "dicks".  Kos has, throughout his rise to (alleged) Democratic pre-eminence, often arbitrated disputes, brokered agreements, and made official pronouncements and declarations of this type.

Moulitsas went on to lay out specific guidelines for talking about Clinton if she becomes the nominee. 
He distinguishes, for example, between “constructive criticism” of Clinton from a progressive perspective, and using “right-wing tropes” to attack her. He even prohibits liberal-themed name calling, like saying “she’s a sell-out corporatist whore oligarch.” 
Writers and commenters who violate the rules will make themselves eligible to be banned from the site.

Online Democrats, for those unfamiliar, are significantly more Caucasian, older, and progressive -- not the Clinton definition, the actual one -- than Democratic primary voters (in others words, Berners).  So this "get on the bandwagon or GTFO" deadline is being met with considerable derision.  I spend more time at the other place where Democrats hang out online, Depleted Uranium, and I can testify that there's been a serious cleaving of the Sanders camp from the Clintonites.

The powers that be at DK and DU (they can read the ominous Clinton GE polling, too) are trying to stitch up the wounds that the primary battle has blasted open before they face wholesale desertion among the partisan, straight-ticket-voting ranks.  If you don't frequent either of those two websites, you've surely seen the same dynamic play itself out on Facebook and Twitter.  It's also rational to start enforcing this command now because, left to fester, the intramural snipe fest will continue to endanger Clinton's inevitable march to the White House.

If this sounds like sheepdogging, it's more like herding cats.  Still, the fence-mending needs to start happening or else the low turnout (yes, it is) will indeed be exacerbated by the lingering resentment of the Sandernistas, and they very well might defect to the Greens ... or return to electoral apathy.

We'll have to watch this development and see if the cuts are too deep or if some scabs grow over them in time for November.  Almost nine months; you can make a baby in that time, from "Netflix and chill" all the way to DOB.

No bets taken on whether it will be a boy or a girl until later this summer.

Update: Kuff also posts and links to the Texas Observer's article that I interpret as another portent of low Democratic turnout in the fall.


meme said...

sounds like good advice for the persons that would prefer a more liberal supreme court judge, but one can always cut of the nose to spite the face

PDiddie said...

If I interpret you correctly, Manny, Republicans have more to lose in stonewalling a SCOTUS replacement than do Democrats, and now there's polling evidence supporting that premise.

But that is narrowly tangential to Democratic turnout. It's perhaps more effective than Dems bashing potential voters on the head with "SCOTUS" but we won't know for sure until we see some November election returns.

Gadfly said...

As for Markos? As you saw on Twitter, he banned me for being too Green a decade ago. As for dicks? The man who said there's secret librulz in the CIA knows em, by when he wakes up and looks in the mirror.