What? Am I worried? Nope, not at all. Actually, I’m fucking terrified. I can sum up my paranoia in three simple words. lifelong Cubs fan. November 2016 will never be number one for me, September 1969 scarred me for life, znd taught me that optimism is a pipe dream. But since I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy, we’ll leave it that I’m optimistically terrified.
There has been a ton of chatter out there, and with good reason, about the incredible intensity of early voting, and voter enthusiasm in general. But there is also a lot of hand wringing and gnashing of teeth, due to the fact that the once double digit lead that the Democrats enjoyed in voter enthusiasm, has narrowed to a low single digit lead in the final days. Normally, this would not be good, but there is a dynamic in this particular election that has me feeling better about the numbers.
Just a quick tutorial. If a voter claims a party affiliation when they register to vote, it is marked next to their name. If a voter goes to vote in a primary, they can only get a ballot for the party they’ve pledged to. But in a general election, while when they sign in for a ballot, it shows that a Democrat, or a Republican checked in to vote, the ballot they get is identical to that of any other voter. And that’s what has me feeling better about the closing enthusiasm gap.
When it comes to 2018, what has been the dominant overall story leading up to election day? White, college educated, suburban, soccer moms. Mainly registered Republican voters, They are fleeing Trump and the GOP the way that a sleeping teen runs from Freddie Krueger. But, when they sign in to vote early or their returned mail in ballot is input, it shows a Republican ballot was issued and received. Never forget the fact that just because a voter has an “R” next to their name on the voter rolls, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re actually voting for the GOP candidate.
Two quick examples will suffice. In December of 2017, Doug Jones shocked the world by beating Republican Roy Moore in blood red Alabama. Does anyone really believe that there are more registered Democrats than Republicans in Alabama? Of course not. Jones pulled it off with an insane over performance by black female voters, and also by those aforementioned white, suburban female voters, bailing on a credibly accused pedophile. But a statistical look would show that more Republicans voted than Democrats, or a roughly equal number.
The second example is of course PA-18 and Conor Lamb. PA-18 was literally gerrymandered to be Democrat proof. Every single Democratic voter could show up to vote, and with decent GOP turnout, the final outcome was GOP assured. And it can’t all be laid at the feet of Rick Saccone being a terrible candidate. Republicans crossed over and voted for Lamb, even though their ballots showed up as Republican affiliated ballots when they signed in.
I’m not trying to plant any subliminal messages here, any of y’all who read me know if there’s one thing I’m not, it’s subtle. The basic reality has always been that we could flip the House purely by flipping every GOP held seat in a district where Hillary won. But if we were going to create a wave, it was going to require flipping suburban and exurban seats in Republican strongholds. And if that’s going to happen, we’ll need all of those white, college educated, suburban, female Republican voters showing up to the poll, but casting votes for Democrats. Which means having the raw numbers show a lot of Republicans showing up to vote. Chin up, we’ll know one way or the other in 36 hours.
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