Robert Hubbell’s Substack analysis of the Iowa Republican caucus focused on a point I keep hammering: turnout–getting out the vote–is far and away the most important imperative of this year’s election cycle.
There is a mountain of social science data confirming that high-turnout elections benefit Democrats. There’s a reason the GOP does everything in its power to suppress the vote. By far the most effective suppression comes from gerrymandering–voters in districts drawn to be “safe” for a party they don’t support feel–not illogically–that their votes won’t count, so why bother? It will be critically important to remind those voters that statewide races and the popular vote for President are not subject to gerrymandering. With the exception of the potential operation of the Electoral College, those votes will absolutely count.
Hubbell makes the argument for the importance of turnout in the context of Iowa’s (weird) caucus system. He begins by looking at the composition of those who did turn out:
Among those who attended the caucuses, most voters hold extremist views. Those views are reprehensible and deserve to be condemned. But those who showed up on Monday were mostly Trump loyalists who represent the slimmest majority possible of voters in Iowa.
Although Hubbell doesn’t mention it, this feature of caucus turnout is equally true of turnout in state primaries. The typically low primary turnout is characterized by votes from the most passionate–and extreme–members of both parties. And those voters do not reflect majority sentiments.
So, as we collectively talk about the results in Iowa, it is important to realize that 49% of those who voted on a bitterly cold night (-3 Fahrenheit) did not support Trump. Most of the voters who opposed Trump do not condone his views about immigrants poisoning the blood of America, or his opponents being “vermin,” or his belief that the 2020 election was “rigged.”…
As we move forward in the 2024 campaign, let’s remember that there are Democrats, Independents, and Republicans in Iowa who will not support Trump. Our job is to convince them to show up for Biden. Lumping them in with MAGA extremists is not an effective way of achieving that goal.
And the same applies to every so-called “red state.” In every state, there are local and statewide offices that can be flipped—something that will help limit and blunt the effect of Republican control of statehouses and governors’ mansions.
So, let’s set aside the notion that red states are a lost cause and do not deserve our attention or support. Not only do they deserve our help, but they are the front line of resistance—just like the Democrats, Independents, and Republicans who chose not to vote for Trump on Monday.
Turnout in Iowa was low— only 110,298 voters participated in the GOP caucuses, amounting to about 19% of the 594,533 “active” registered Republicans . Of those, 51% voted for Trump (or 52,260). So Trump’s “big” victory in Iowa was “achieved with support from 7% of Iowa Republicans—or 3% of Iowa’s 1,518,280 active voters.”
Trump’s victory on Monday night was decided by the 97% of Iowa voters who “did not vote” in the caucuses. So, before we over-interpret the result on Monday, we must recognize that the potential for a devastating defeat for Trump is within our reach—assuming that we can motivate sufficient turnout. (emphasis mine)
So, as we face the onslaught of polls in the coming primary season predicting doom for Democrats, we must always remember that turnout can beat any poll.
As Hubbell reminds his readers, the Iowa caucus results affirm a fundamental truth: It all comes down to turnout.
Even in dramatically-gerrymandered Indiana, if a significant percentage of the disaffected voters in “safe” districts voted, a number of the districts would no longer be safe. Republican victories in Indiana are increasingly dependent upon low turnout–especially in the more rural areas of the state that have been steadily losing population.
Hubbell is absolutely right when he insists that Democrats cannot afford to write off Red states this year, of all years.
We need to make the strongest possible case– to apathetic and/or disheartened Democrats as well as to Independents and any remaining sane Republicans– that their votes are needed to save the Constitution, protect democracy, and remove the GOP crazies’ stranglehold that currently prevents Congress from functioning.
For those of us who have felt helpless against the drumbeat of depressing news, there is one thing we each can do: we can encourage everyone we know to register and we can follow up to ensure that they actually vote.Comments