Election Ennui: Boise Democrats Don’t Show November 2nd
The previous chart posted yesterday showed that voter turnout as a percent of voting age population was the worst in the 50 years since anyone has kept track. A chart posted last week showed that in Ada County voter turnout increased in the 1st Congressional District but was largely off-set by a decrease in turnout in the portion of the county in the 2nd Congressional District.
The 1st District has the contested race of Minnick v. Labrador while in the 2nd District there was token opposition to Rep. Simpson. A closer look at voting patterns within the 2nd District, which in Ada County is made up largely of Boise, shows a marked drop in Democratic voter participation.
A chart was constructed showing votes for Republican and Democratic candidates for State Senate in 2006 v. 2010 for the five legislative districts that make up Boise. Districts 16-19 were won by Democrats in 2006 and held through 2008. District 15 is Republican. In 2010 Republicans picked up two seats in District 18. Total votes in District 18 was down more than 1,000 from 2006, as the markers (3rd and 4th from the right) indicate.
Every district in Boise had fewer total votes in 2010 than in 2006.
More remarkable is across Boise the decrease in total votes from 2006 to 2010 came mostly from the Democratic column. Republican votes were largely unchanged, with the exception of the increase in the District 18 Senate race that changed parties.
Cumulatively the Republican Senate candidates amassed a relatively unimpressive 870 more votes in 2010 than 2006. That’s only an average increase of 175 votes per district, but enough to flip to seats in District 18.
The real story is the total vote for Democratic candidates dropped by more than 8,300, an average loss of 1,650 Democratic votes per district. So much for the “wave election.” The asymmetry in numbers shows this was not a case of swing voters going the other way, or a significant increase in voter turnout like happened in 1994 when compared to 1990.
What happened appears to best be described as a systemic failure on the part of the Democratic Party to put on a campaign at the top of the ticket that would help drive voter turnout at the lower races such as for State Legislature. As mentioned, the token candidate for Congress did not bother to campaign. The Democratic candidate for Governor ran a campaign based largely on advertising and public relations and put together no organization that would build a ground game that identifies potential supporters, gets them registered to vote if needed, and draws them to the polls, with the expected trickle down effect on the local races. The result in Boise was the Republicans captured two seats in the State Legislature and the most Democratic districts saw the typical big landslide victories decrease to merely blowout proportions.