Tuesday, June 16, 2015

2016 Will Be A Turnout War (And What That Will Mean)

Voters in long lines in Ohio in 2012.  Efforts to keep them from voting will only be more intense next year.

It's one of my great flaws, but I just can't get enough of the presidential election horserace, it's my favorite reality TV show.  Based on recent events, I am getting more and more of a sense of what the 2016 election will be, and know that no matter who gets the nominations, it will be a hard, brutal fight.

Hillary Clinton's launch speech made it clear that she is making major moves to attract the base of the party, distancing herself from the triangulation of the Clinton presidency.  She has made voter suppression an issue, and has proposed the bold idea of universal, automatic registration.  She has talked openly about income inequality in ways more reminiscent of the Democratic old time religion of FDR and LBJ.  I don't just think that this is a ploy to keep from getting outflanked on the left by Sanders in the primaries.  This is intended to get Democratic voters excited early so that they will be ready get out the vote in November of 2016.

Clinton has been criticized for following what looks like a targeted strategy to concentrate on swing states and not on "switching" red states.  This is another clue to her intention to win by getting Democrats to the polls.  It's the smart move, and while I have been long skeptical of Clinton's motives, she's always been smart.  In a polarized electorate, the only thing in the middle of the road is a dead skunk.  With "culture war" issues like weed and gay marriage trending more liberal, and public alarm over economic inequality rising, Clinton is looking to win voters with bread and butter progressive issues, rather than presenting herself as a moderate there to keep the extremes on both sides at bay.

While we can pretty much assume that the Democrats are going to nominate Clinton, but the Republican field is less clear.  If Jeb gets the nomination, turnout will really be key, because the Bush vs. Clinton matchup will not attract a lot of voters. Low turnout has been a benefit for Republicans in midterm elections, but that dynamic might not work with this matchup, since a lot of this low turnout will be due to conservatives staying home.  A Bush-Clinton redux, which no one wants, will be absolutely brutal.  It will lead to increased voter suppression efforts by Republicans, who are well aware of how they benefit by driving down turnout via voter ID laws and taking advantage of the kind of shenanigans we saw back in 2000 in Florida.  Keep in mind, Florida and Ohio have Republican governors who will ensure that voter lines are long in neighborhoods with lots of Democrats.

The money men who pull the strings for the GOP might just throw their chips behind Scott Walker, both because of his anti-unionism, but also due to his ability to attract evangelicals and Tea Party types.  If this election is about getting out the base without totally alienating the center, he might be their man.

It does seem useless to speculate about who the eventual Republican nominee will be.  Regardless of who it is, the 2016 election will be a desperate fight by the two parties to get their base to the polls, and one by Republicans to prevent as many Democrats from voting as possible.  2000 is looking less and less like an anomaly, and more and more like the new normal.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have feeling that the Dems will have little problem in 2016. I think the heavyweight backlash is coming in 2018, not because there is some Newtonian law of politics or because history repeats itself, but because the internal divisions in the Anglophone "Left" are becoming more pronounced.

James W