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By Robert A. Vella

This blog has been but one of many voices repeatedly warning the Democratic Party about low voter turnout trends among left-leaning Americans.  The general problem of civic disengagement, although evident in most democratic countries worldwide, is particularly acute in the U.S. where its political asymmetry is most profound.  So far this election season, voter turnout in the party primaries is substantially down for Democrats and dramatically up for Republicans.  If this dynamic holds through November, a right-wing extremist candidate like Donald Trump could – contrary to conventional wisdom – win the presidency.

The central issue here is the undeniable wave of angry populism sweeping the country.  All the Republican candidates have embraced it to one degree or another, with the fanatical nationalist Trump leading the charge.  The two remaining Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, are locked in a battle for the ideological soul of the party with the status quo establishment candidate Clinton trying to put down the progressive and populist upstart Sanders.  If Hillary wins the nomination, voter turnout in the general election among the disaffected base of the party is likely to remain low.  If Sanders wins the nomination, many centrists and moderates might vote for the Republican nominee or choose not to vote at all.  In either case, the situation for Democrats is more volatile and problematic than it is for Republicans.  Their best chance to hold the White House might be for the radical Trump to scare the hell out of independent voters with his inflammatory rhetoric and thus shift the electoral tide towards the Democratic candidate – presumably Clinton.

Further reading:  Democratic Party better heed Rachel Maddow’s warning

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10 thoughts on “Democrats’ Achilles heel: 2016 Primaries show Low Voter Turnout among the Left

  1. There is a problem when people don’t vote. Here it’s because many feel it doesn’t matter either way. The votes will still be stolen, dead people will vote and so on.

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    • It’s a self-fulfilling prophesy. People don’t vote because they see democracy as corrupted and imperfect. But, by not voting, they give up any chance of stopping the corruption and improving the practice of democracy. It’s analogous to a cancer patient who won’t see their doctor because the medical treatment is painful.

      I knew a political refugee from Chile many years ago who warned me that those who don’t value democracy have no concept of what life would be like without it.

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  2. I think part of the turnout problem is the existence of closed primaries. Much of Bernie’s appeal falls outside of registered Democrats. I only hope the turnout for the general reflects deep dissatisfaction with the GOP choice. Congress blocking Supreme Court nominee may help.

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