What to Remember While Watching Election Results Tonight
Laura Flanders at the Nation writes on the canned, conservative post-election message that will say today’s turnout is indicative of the nation’s attitude toward size and reach of government. But, just as that message is predictable, she says, so is the lower turnout.
“We need to be clear what this election is and is not,” Flanders writes. “It is not a national presidential election. Midterms are scores of local and state contests. These are not nationwide campaigns. The GOP may declare a new political era has arrived. But it hasn’t.”
Flanders notes that “…yes, political outsiders have an outsized impact in lower turnout races. But are this year’s most visible activists, Tea Party conservatives, any more of a majority than Ross Perot’s Reform Party supporters were in 1992? No. In fact, they represent about the same slice of voters: 20 percent.”
Last week, we discussed the same historical voting patters versus post-election messaging in our new memo, Debunking the Tea Party’s Election Night Message. “Tea Party candidates and their policy ideas are not representative of most Americans, just as midterm elections are not national plebiscites,” blogged Project Vote consultant, Steven Rosenfeld on the memo.
“The anticipated Republican gains are part of the predictable rebalancing that occurs between presidential elections, rather than ideological shifts in the electorate,” Rosenfeld wrote. “Despite 2010’s political rhetoric, academic and media surveys from 2007 through today repeatedly find that most voters want government protection from economic hardship and continuity of core programs, such as Social Security, Medicare, in education and infrastructure spending.”
“Most voters are not angry about the size of government,” she writes. “They are disappointed and frustrated government has not done what they hoped for in hard times. Poll after poll finds a solid majority of voters want government to protect them, especially in tough times.
“But let’s remember what a midterm election is and is not. It is not a national referendum. It is not launching a new political era. Voters still want government to be effective. Ironically, just when America needs a more responsive government, it looks like the process will be anything but that.”