The Campaign Spot

What Happens in Places Without Competitive Statewide Races?

From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

Looks Like Nevada Democrats Are Sitting This Year Out. Who Else Will?

Let the great Jon Ralston lay out just how horrific the early-voting numbers are for Democrats out in Nevada:

The turnout nightmare continues for Democrats, who tried to juice it on Saturday by handing out Bill Clinton tickets at The Dooilttle Center in the heart of West Las Vegas. It did not work. Republicans lose early vote by 42 votes out of 12,000 cast. Dems have six more days to turn this around and/or hope for Election Day miracle . . . 

Clark [County] totals with mail: 39,982, GOP; 38,715, Dems; 15,851, others.

Before you start saying, “so what, registered Democrats are still ahead,” note this county is the Democrats’ stronghold in the state. They need a huge advantage here to balance out the GOP advantages elsewhere.

Ralston notes, “It’s 42 percent for GOP and 41 percent for Dems, which means Republicans still 11 points over their registration and Dems 3 percent below theirs. How many different words can I find for ‘disaster’ for the Dems?”

As we noted last week, some of this reflects the fact that there isn’t a really big, competitive race on the ticket this year — no Senate race and Democrats effectively conceded the governor’s race. But the “meh” mood among Democrats is going to have a potentially huge impact on one Democrat-held U.S. House district, all of the non-governor statewide posts (currently held by Democrats), and races for the state legislature.

And if Nevada Democrats are tuning out because there’s no big statewide race on the ballot this year . . . how about all these other states with neither a competitive Senate or governor’s race this year?

Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Utah, and Washington are states holding only elections for U.S. House of Representative seats, state legislative seats, and non-gubernatorial state officials.

Quite a few more states have gubernatorial or U.S. Senate races, but not particularly competitive ones: Alabama, California, Mississippi, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee. (Some would argue places like Texas and Ohio don’t have competitive governor’s races anymore, either.) Are we going to see Democratic turnout plummet in places like this, where there isn’t a convenient Republican bogeyman to motivate their grassroots to turn out?

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