Early voting has already started. Getting out the vote is critical in any election, but especially so in mid-terms when there is no presidential race. Whether it’s a matter of exposure or something else, for some reason people are less interested in voting when they’re not electing a president. This year should get a better turnout than usual, but it still won’t be nearly as heavy as in presidential election years, and even 2012’s voter turnout was dramatically lower than it was for 2008.
Low voter turnout is a problem and an opportunity. The problem is that it’s harder to get people motivated and voting during the midterms. The opportunity is that the other side faces the same problem, so whichever side does the best job of getting their people turned out is the side that’s probably going to win.
I saw a poll today that should give Republicans something to worry about. It was an unscientific poll of visitors to my friend Richard Viguerie’s website, ConservativeHQ.com. The poll asked one question: Have you voted yet?
It offered three possible answers:
3. I don’t plan to vote in the 2014 midterm election.
The response was rather startling, with 44 percent of respondents saying they had not voted yet, 32 percent saying they had already voted, and 24 percent saying they were not planning to vote.
Though Viguerie’s poll is a small, unscientific sampling of a narrow subset of potential voters, visitors to his website are typically among the most committed conservative activists. For nearly a quarter of the respondents to state that they weren’t planning to cast a ballot suggests some serious problems within the Republican’s “Big Tent.” Conservatives are the core of the Republican Party. If party leadership has taken the focus of the party so far from its conservative base that they are losing it, that should be a major concern.
No one likes the idea of holding his nose and voting for the “lesser of two evils.” I’ve actually written about the moral dilemma of such a decision and advised against making such a compromise. My rationale was that the lesser of two evils is still evil, and that unless voters reject evil choices by casting “protest votes” for third-party candidates or simply refusing to vote at all, the leadership will never get the message or learn a lesson. Looking back at the races of Bob Dole, John McCain and Mitt Romney, it has become abundantly clear that the current Republican leadership is incapable of learning from their mistakes. And the cost of punishing stupid Republicans is rewarding dangerous Democrats.
My current philosophy has evolved to one of damage control. I am willing to vote for – or even work for – candidates that don’t meet my philosophical standards, if their election will keep someone worse from winning the seat, and particularly if their election might slow the momentum of my main opponents. While I would never vote a straight party ticket, and I still advocate voting with an upraised middle finger when there is no viable option offered, right now, my primary goal is wresting power from Harry Reid and Barack Obama. To accomplish that, I would even vote for Scott Brown in New Hampshire – someone who has proven to be no friend to gun owners.
I don’t think our two-party system is going away any time soon, but I do see the rifts within the parties growing so large that I think we are headed toward distinctive parties within the parties, and the future will see the creation of intra-party coalitions to address the demands of the various voter factions. I don’t know if that will be a good thing or a bad thing, but I think that’s where we’re headed.
The current issue is getting people out to vote. For some, mail voting is the only option, so those folks need to get their ballots in right now if they want their vote to count. One of the problems with mail balloting is that many people don’t want to vote too early, for fear of missing an October Surprise, and then they forget to vote altogether or wait too long and their ballot arrives too late to be counted. If you’re voting by mail, your ballot should be in the mail by Friday evening, Saturday at the latest – assuming you are actually in your home area where you can expect next-day delivery. The other option is to drop the ballot off at a designated location on Election Day – most states allow ballots to be dropped off at any polling place, but check to be sure. I would bet that a high percentage of people planning to hand-deliver their mail ballots never actually get around to it. Don’t disenfranchise yourself. Make it a point to be sure your ballot is turned in on time so it can be counted.
If you vote in person, be sure to take someone to the polls with you, and be especially sure that your friends and family members are informed and vote. Make them a cheat-sheet if you must, but whatever you do, vote and be sure the folks around you vote. These choices are much too important to just be left up to someone else. Make every effort to fulfill your obligation as a citizen, or be prepared to live with the consequences.
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 4. Don’t miss it.
Media wishing to interview Jeff Knox, please contact [email protected].