It’s the Turnout, Stupid

Without good voter turnout in the fall, Democrats could see a big opportunity slip by.

Donald Trump winning the Republican nomination is looking more and more inevitable with each passing day.

With Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich splitting the establishment vote and delegates and Trump’s commanding wins in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada, it seems like nothing short of a miracle or a brokered convention will stop him. This should be music to Democrats’ ears, seeing as the latest round of general election polling shows that both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton can beat Donald Trump (Bernie by an average of 6 percentage points nationally and Hillary by an average of 2.8). Nonetheless, Democrats are in grave danger of losing it all and handing the White House over to President Trump.

Why? Two words. TURN OUT.

As an initial point, although Democrats have been struggling with turn-out since around the time when Bill Clinton left the White House, in recent years, turn-out has been nothing short of abysmal. While Barack Obama may have been able turn out a record numbers of voters in 2008 and get enough people out to win re-election in 2012, Democrats failed to show up in 2010, handing the House over to the Tea Party and again failed to show up in 2014, essentially allowing Republicans to win back the Senate. Unfortunately, if history repeats itself this year, low voter turnout will result in Democrats losing the White House too.

Now, I should say, that ideologically speaking I am more closely aligned with Bernie Sanders, fully intend to vote for for him in the primary, and think he has a good chance of winning the White House if he wins the nomination. However, while I think he can, and hope he does win the nomination, I also fully intend to support whoever the Democratic nominee is in the general election NO MATTER WHAT; the risks of not doing so far outweigh the rewards of staying home – in fact, I don’t see any rewards in staying home, or writing in for that matter. Hillary Clinton may be ideologically to my and Bernie’s right, but she is still far more liberal and far more qualified than anyone seeking the Republican nomination. More importantly, Democrats will need to turn out in full force and stand together as one unified voting bloc if we want a shot at winning. This isn’t political posturing, I’m not trying to “shill” for one side, I’m just doing the math; because in the end, it’s going to come down to the numbers. If Democrats stay home (or write in) should their preferred candidate not be the nominee, it is highly likely we will be watching Donald Trump take the oath of office on January 20, 2017.

Case in point:

Currently, Bernie Sanders beats Trump by an average of about 6 percentage points while Hillary Clinton wins against him by an average of about 2.8 ­ in general election polls – while Bernie outperforms her, those are both pretty close margins. Further, while general election polls are often inaccurate predictors of the election due to the electoral college, the margins are equally close in important swing states, states which will likely decide the election. For example, it the latest state head to head polls, Trump is leading Hillary in Ohio – an important swing state – by a mere 2 points and losing to Bernie by a mere 2 points, both of which fall within the margin of error. As such, Democrats’ failure to launch come November could easily swing Ohio, and in theory the election, towards Trump. Similarly, in North Carolina – a state most news organizations consider a toss-up (and where President Obama won in 2008 with only a 0.32% margin of victory and was subsequently defeated in 2012 by Mitt Romney by a mere  2.2 percentage points) – Hillary is currently leading Trump by an average of just 1 percentage point and Bernie by just 3.3 percentage points, again, both of which fall within the margin of error. Consequently, Democrats’ failure to turn out on Election Day could put this important swing state back into the Trump column. And, if one thing that is for certain, Trump’s supporters are extremely enthusiastic and are highly likely to show up at the polls.

As the phrase goes, “united we stand, divided we fall” and it couldn’t be more true for Democrats this election cycle. Democrats have two great candidates and a real chance of both holding onto the White House and winning back the Senate. It would be more than a shame to see that opportunity thrown away due to lack of turnout, or worse, due to Democrats consciously deciding to stay home or write in a candidate, it would be downright dangerous. This is a man who literally called a “Muslim Database;” 1930’s fascist Germany anyone? Further, if a Republican wins the White House it will also mean another conservative Supreme Court justice – presumably for at least the next two decades – as the President’s chances of having his nominee for Justice Scalia’s seat actually appointed to the Court are slim. A Trump nominee would likely fundamentally change the Court and possibly the country, there would be no going back. No do over’s. No oops‘.

My point is quite simple, if Democrats turn out for the Democratic nominee, we have a good chance of winning the election and likely will win if Trump is the GOP candidate. But, if people stay home to “prove a point” because their preferred candidate didn’t win, we likely will lose the election and we will have no one to blame but ourselves and our fellow Democrats. It’s not a threat, it’s just math; as they say if we vote, we win. If we don’t, well who knows what happens.

Short term thinking can have long term consequences. If you are a Democrat, not voting, and allowing Trump to waltz his way to the White House, is voting against your interests. The hard truth is that mathematically speaking, if you’re a Democrat voting for the Democratic nominee – even if it’s not “your” candidate and even if there are things about that person you disagree with or don’t like – is in your best interest, presuming of course you are interested in preventing a Trump presidency.

As a final word, I hope Bernie gets the nomination, but in November, I will be voting blue no matter who. There is absolutely no why reason Democrats cannot win this election. We are in the driver’s seat, but only if we agree to put aside our differences after primary season and show up.

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