July 17, 2006


Growing number of voters ignore primary elections (Kathy Kiely, 7/17/06, USA TODAY)

Halfway through this year's primary season, voters are showing little interest in picking candidates for the Nov. 7 elections that will determine control of Congress and elect more than one-third of the nation's governors.

Twenty-five states held primaries through June 27. Sixteen of the 22 states that have certified figures or provided estimates to USA TODAY recorded voter turnout lower than 2002, the last national election that wasn't in a presidential year.

Some experts worry that a voter boycott of primaries could result in politics being dominated by single-issue special-interest groups.

"The higher the turnout, the more representative an election is," says Rhodes Cook, publisher of a non-partisan political newsletter. "The lower the turnout, the more the election is likely to reflect a wing of a party or an ideology."

The Democrats' delusion about a "throw the bums out" tide has obviously been exposed, but why would anyone expect many voters to be highly motivated to turn out for elections when both Republican and Democrat congresses and presidents have given us twenty uninterrupted years of growth and incremental implementation of the sort of Third Way entitlement reforms that majorities throughout the Anglosphere expect?

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 17, 2006 7:14 AM

Because the system is rotten to the core? Just a thought.

Immigration, A war (that may turn out badly), 2 parties engaging in a rhetorical battle as a facade, but generally agree to bankrupt the nation behind the scenes (Katrina relief, bipartisan stonewalling of the president on Soc Sec., etc), and a never-ending stream of stories on how both Rs and Ds at the local, state, and Federal levels are as corrupt as the day is long (see public pension piggery)...

Basically, OJ, you are half right. About half of the people who don't vote are tacitly assenting to the status quo. The other half are waiting for a an alternative (or a return to intellectual honesty by one of the 2 parties).

If someone like Newt and/or Kasich (a great team, BTW) got a $10 to 20 million (not very likely), and ran as either independents or as a new party, they'd get between 30-35% of the vote in 2008.

If they get 35%, they'd likely win, and their candidacy would probably put Republicans in veto proof majorities in both houses.

Posted by: Bruno at July 17, 2006 9:55 AM

Bruno: Man, those mushrooms must have given you quite a trip over the weekend. So much fantasy contained in one comment.

Posted by: Bob at July 17, 2006 10:07 AM


No, they aren't. But people who are totally self-focussed always think there's a third party about to form hat will agree with them completely.

Posted by: oj at July 17, 2006 10:08 AM


Not so much a "fantasy" as wishful thinking.

I'm completely clear on how unlikely my scenarios are. That isn't to say my prognosticated outcomes are off base (they aren't), but that the vast majority of the people who might consider an alternative path are too convinced that "it will never happen."

The real "fantasy" is thinking that everything is just fine as it is, but the "mushrooms" on this sunny blog are a good trip, indeed.


Actually, I'd be happy with a Republican party that enacted what they ran on. Further, I'm more than happy to vote for an imperfect party/candidate that isn't with me on every issue. (except where the person is a corrupt moron, such as Topinka)

My view is that the rhetorical divide between the parties is very wide right now, whereas the corruption is rampant (and increasingly exposed) in both parties and at every level.

Conceding the point that it is exceedingly difficult for electoral alternatives to succeed, the pigs in both parties are working hard to make it easier.

Posted by: Bruno at July 17, 2006 10:41 AM

"I'd be happy to compromise, but won't."

Posted by: oj at July 17, 2006 10:48 AM

Bruno: Sorry, any mention of Newt and winning election as President just makes me laugh. Newt can't even get 30-35% of the vote in his own family.

Posted by: Bob at July 17, 2006 12:54 PM


Though you may be right about Newt, Kasich would be a decent candidate, perhaps with Toomey as a running mate. (no one except McCain, Rudy or possibly Allen has a shot at the R nomination, so why should anyone else bother).

They could run on a slogan similar to "We'll actually enact what the Republicans run on" or maybe "All the same great ideas, without the corruption and pork." Throw in some anti-corporate babble about removing tax breaks for oil companies, and the "yahoos" will eat it like candy.

Perot was a certifyable nut job and he got 19.5%. Add a credible candidate, a platform that polls above 55%, and some slick marketing, and 35-6% and 270 electoral votes isn't as impossible as it sounds in this climate.

In the end, your argument will win the day. The people who can't see beyond "Coke" or "Pepsi" will always out number those who will try a better alternative. This is why the top 2 companies in any field usually share well over 50% of the market.

My position is pretty clear. When Coke & Pepsi have the ability to legislate everyone else out of the market, the consumer suffers.

Rational people would hold that truth to be self-evident.

Posted by: Bruno at July 17, 2006 2:28 PM

And if rational people agree that a third party can't win the presidency, why are we wasting time talking about it.

Posted by: David Cohen at July 17, 2006 6:17 PM

As so often happens, Mr. Cohen nails it!

Re Gingrich: There are less than a handful of people I really hate and he's one of them.

Posted by: erp at July 17, 2006 7:00 PM


You should talk to my dad, you can get him going sometimes on how it might be a good idea to have a third party. I then ask him what in particular he would like the party to stand for, and I typically get answers about how a third party wouldn't be as corrupt as the other two. But's it normally not much more specific than that.

It's all pie-in-the-sky. Like I tell my dad, people think a third party would be great but you'll never get people to agree on what the positions should be and most folks don't care enough to get one started. We're stuck with Coke or Pepsi.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at July 17, 2006 7:05 PM

Whoops, read "but it's not normally much more specific [...]" instead of the other formulation I've just invented.

Preview is my friend.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at July 17, 2006 7:09 PM

Because Bruno needs someone to talk to.

Posted by: oj at July 17, 2006 10:00 PM

It's not that we're stuck with Coke or Pepsi, it's that Coca~Cola and PepsiCo. co-opt anything that effectively competes.

Sportsdrinks outselling cola ?
Both Coke & PepsiCo. have a line of sportsdrinks.

Bottled water becoming a big category ?
Both Coke & PepsiCo. have a line of bottled water.

Whether it's softdrinks or politics, any issue that one or both of the major parties haven't included in their platforms is an issue that most people don't care about.
It's hard to build an effective political party around minor issues.

Posted by: Noam Chomsky at July 18, 2006 4:54 PM


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