Op-Ed: How Republicans are tossing Democratic ballots to the wind
For Democrats, the 2016 election is a stark choice.
They must decide if they are going to allow Donald Trump to become the first Republican president in 40 years to go down in history as the first to lose a multi-round election by 20 percentage points. If they do so, they are taking a risk — the risk of handing the keys of the White House to the most divisive, illiberal president this nation has ever known.
If they don’t, their Democratic Party will go down with them in November’s midterm elections. Democrats are far from a monolithic voting bloc, and their national vote share is only 2.6 percent — one-sixth of what it used to be in 1936, when the party got an unprecedented 8 percent of the vote.
So it makes sense to cast a hard look at the Republican base’s attitudes toward voting, and how they are swaying the electorate.
And it is especially important to understand how Donald Trump became, for most Americans at least, the political version of an abusive spouse.
It starts with the most basic level, of course — turnout.
As the Democrats are finding out, voter turnout is not what it used to be. It’s gone down by about a quarter since 2000, which, as Nate Silver points out, suggests it’s headed down for the foreseeable future.
The Republicans, meanwhile, are enjoying a massive upswing in voter turn-out. In the 2014 midterm election, when Mitt Romney lost, voter turnout was about 56 percent. This year, turnout is expected to be at 79 percent.
The last time this year’s congressional elections had as dramatic a turnaround as in 2010 when Republicans increased their share of the vote by more than a half-dozen points, the trend was reversed.
In 2010, according to the nonpartisan organization Brennan Center for Justice, the number who cast a ballot rose from a low of 58 percent to a high of 70 percent. This year, that number is at 74 percent.
This, apparently, is not a partisan issue. When you look at the voting behavior of the overall electorate, the trend is similar.
In the 2012 election, the turnout rate was 77 percent. This year, it’s expected to hit 82 percent