The final citywide turnout in Chicago’s primary elections last week was under 10%. I believe that’s the lowest in the city’s history. At just over 10% the turnout in the precinct where I worked was actually higher than the citywide average. We’re either dramatically over-registered or voters just plain weren’t interested. Alexis Simendinger of RealClearPolitics thinks there’s a strong anti-incumbent sentiment:
Less than eight months before a closely divided electorate decides which candidates they’ll send to Congress, Democrats vying for House and Senate seats face a downbeat populace that may stay home in November, while Republican candidates find themselves challenged to unite around a common vision beyond opposition to Obamacare.
Nearly five years after the end of the Great Recession, Americans express continued pessimism about the economy and the direction of the country, challenging the party that holds the White House
The survey, conducted jointly by the Tarrance Group and Lake Research Partners, found that likely voters hold both parties in generally low regard and are perilously amenable to the idea of bouncing their own members of Congress out of office.
Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, who helped unpack the data during a media event hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, described voters’ mindset this year as “ornery.”
“It’s an anti-incumbent year,” she warned.
In an anti-incumbent year, voters show up at the polls to vote the rascals out. If Chicago is any gauge, it’s an anti-political year. The voters won’t show up at all.
IMO that sort of mood actually favors incumbents. They’re more likely to have at least a little organized support to get their vote out.
Still, with 10% turnout anything can happen. Getting 5% of registered voters to vote for you could conceivably allow even fringe candidates with very highly motivated supporters to get themselves elected.
Related: Thomas Edsall, “How Strong Will the Democratic Backlash Be?” Again, if Chicago is any gauge there won’t be a “Democratic backlash”. It isn’t unknown for the number of Republican election judges in primary elections to exceed the number of registered Republicans here. Talk about your “Republicans in name only”!
I do wonder how much of a monkeywrench the incompetent debut of Healthcare.gov will throw into things. It’s darned hard for technocrats to run on competence with that kind of record or to run as a reform candidate when you’re an incumbent.