Politics Magazine

The November Election Will Be Determined By Turn-out

Posted on the 13 March 2014 by Jobsanger
The November Election Will Be Determined By Turn-out
The November Election Will Be Determined By Turn-out
On Tuesday night, the Republicans were able to hang on to the House seat in Florida's 13th Congressional District. Pundits, especially those with GOP leanings, are now saying this race shows that the Republicans are in good shape for the coming general election this November (and will keep their majority in the House). I'm not so sure that's true.
This was a district that has been in Republican hands since 1970, and the incumbent (whose death caused this special election) won his seat easily in the last election with 58% of the vote. By comparison, the winning Republican on Tuesday night was not even able to get 50% of the vote -- beating his Democratic opponent by a scant 1.5% (48.5% to 47%).
That tells me that this once solid Republican district is now competitive -- and was probably won due to an enormous amount of outside money flowing to the GOP candidate, and a low turnout (which is normal for a special election). It will be interesting to see what happens in this district in November (when the turnout is bigger and that outside money has to be spread among many more races).
But even before this special election result many political pundits were predicting a Republican victory in November. These predictions go against what numerous polls have been telling us (including the two new polls shown in the charts above) -- that the Democrats have a significantly larger positive rating with the public than the Republicans do, and a lower negative rating than the Republicans. So, why are they predicting a Republican victory?
I suspect it is because they expect this off-year election to follow tradition, and have a very low turnout. And if the turnout in November is low, then they are probably going to be correct. The teabagger base of the Republicans remain energized and will vote in November -- and if the turnout is low, their numbers will skew the results to favor the Republicans.
I believe the Democrats can do very well in November, but they will have to increase the size of the off-year voter turn-out to do so. If the turn-out is as low as it was in 2010, then we'll have a repeat of that election's results. The larger the turn-out, the more the results will mirror what the polls are showing (a Democratic advantage). Democrats don't just need to vote in November -- they need to make sure their family, friends, and neighbors also vote.
As the charts below show, the Democrats have held their numbers since 2010, while the Republicans has seen their numbers go down. That matters, but only if Democrats can energize large numbers of voters and get them to the polls.
The November Election Will Be Determined By Turn-out
The November Election Will Be Determined By Turn-out
The Wall Street Journal / NBC News Poll was done between March 5th and 9th of 1,000 nationwide adults, with a margin of error of 3.1 points.
The Public Policy Polling survey was done between March 6th and 9th of 1,152 registered voters nationwide, with a margin of error of 2.9 points.

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