Democrats have had a recurring problem in special elections this year: Their voters aren’t turning out. If a weak economy and continued Obamacare problems persist, the November elections could be a disaster for Democrats.
Last week, Democrats lost two special elections they weren’t planning to. Arlington, Va., is a classic wealthy ObamaTown, filled with government workers and limousine liberals. Mitt Romney won only 29 percent of the vote in 2012.
But last Tuesday, Democrats lost their first election for the five-member Arlington County Board in 15 years when John Vihstadt, a Republican running as an independent, won a vacancy on the board with 58 percent of the county-wide vote. Vihstadt assembled an impressive coalition that spanned party lines and included endorsements from the local Democratic prosecutor and the chairman of the Green party. His major issues were stopping two local boondoggles: A $310 million streetcar line that’s been ridiculed as “A Streetcar Not Desired” and an $80 million aquatics center. Voter turnout was low, especially in Democratic neighborhoods.
In an unusual Friday special election last week in Connecticut, Republican Tami Zawistowski captured a state-house seat from the Democrats with a resounding 58 percent of the vote. The district is a swing seat, having voted narrowly for Romney in 2012.
“I think people are dissatisfied with the Malloy administration,” Zawistowski told reporters, referring to the liberal agenda of Democratic governor Dannel Malloy. She said the issues that found resonance in her campaign were scaling back gas taxes, reinstating the sales-tax exemption on clothing and over-the-counter, nonprescription medication, as well as ending the $250 annual business-entity tax.
Democrats downplayed last week’s losses, but they are beginning to form a pattern, starting in February with the San Diego mayoral race and continuing with a special U.S. House election in Florida and a state legislative race in Virginia last month. Democrats are dispirited with the record of the Obama administration and aren’t turning out. Energized Republicans are.