A concern for Democrats for the November election

What should be a concern is that while turnout has been at record high levels for the Republican primary contests, it has been at low levels for the Democrats.

More Republicans have voted in the first several primaries than ever before, while turnout for Democrats has dropped far below what the party saw in 2008.

Participation is down this year for Democrats by about 23 percent, or around 150,000 votes, through the first three states. Meanwhile, every Republican state to vote has seen record-breaking turnout totals.

So it looks like Donald Trump is actually turning out voters for him and while the Democrats are not. Some observers are downplaying this difference, saying that come November, Democrats will be sufficiently alarmed by the possibility of a Republican presidency that they will turn out in large numbers.

I am not so sanguine. The Democratic party has consistently shown a reluctance to convert the enthusiasm of its base into a lasting movement. Barack Obama generated huge interest in 2008 but nothing lasting was built on that surge. This is not that surprising actually. Like the Republicans, the Democrats want their base to just vote for the candidates that the party periodically puts before them and not really play a role in shaping policy, which is to be left to the party leaders and its lobbyists and the oligarchy. This low turnout may be a sign that the party base is disaffected with that kind of treatment.

If the Democratic party is not careful and Hillary Clinton is the party nominee, they could lose a chunk of their voters to Trump because of his direct attack on just such establishment control of the political process, even if they disagree with some of his message.

Will voters embrace Hillary Clinton's realism over Bernie Sanders' idealism?

Will voters embrace Hillary Clinton’s realism over Bernie Sanders’ idealism?


  1. doublereed says

    Bernie Sanders is incredibly popular with young voters. It’s depressing that the DNC doesn’t want to harness that enthusiasm for the future of their party. Instead, they seem to be doing everything in their party to marginalize and dismiss young voters, something usually that republicans do. The condescending attitude that people show toward Sanders and his followers is exactly what turns off young people to the process.

  2. says

    I am one of those disaffecteds. Is Sanders gets the nod I’ll go vote for him. But if it’s Clinton i may sit back just see what happens. If Trump makes the oligarchy and two party system into a laughingstock, it might be good in the long run.

    Clinton’s “realism” is like Kissinger’s “realpolitik” -- another way of saying “naked unrestrained I’ll do anything for power” She’s just being more subtle about it than the others because she thinks she can be. If her status as the anointed one is in jeopardy then we’ll see…

  3. Great American Satan says

    MR -- Really? I can understand feeling like Clinton would be just another business-fondling insider facilitating the ongoing war on the poor that’s destroying america, but you’d honestly let a rethuglican win over her by not voting? You really think she’d be as bad as the party that’s racing to the right of fucking golden dawn these days? You really would not just plug your nose and vote for Clinton in November? You don’t see the value in keeping the openly racist theocrats out of the top executive office? Really?

  4. John Smith says

    Her pragmatism claim, that “she’ll get things done and not over promise” is total bullshit. First, a winning presidential promise is a statement to every politician in the country that this is what the American people want. Go against this and you go against the American people. Second, her plans are ineffective and don’t address many concerns. Expanding Obamacare does not reduce costs at all. Her higher education plan would leave many people without access. And she hasn’t said at all how she’ll pay for anything other than “tax the rich” Passing a trade deal with terrible copyright provisions and allows profits to supersede laws will result in higher drug prices and drive up healthcare costs. While she says she is against the TPP, she wrote quite a good chunk of it and lobbied for it.

    Great American Satan@3 Yes I would not vote for her ever. The absolute biggest problem in America is political corruption -- and your most important issue will not get solved unless corruption is addressed. If it is Trump vs. Clinton, I will hold my nose, yes, and vote for TRUMP. And I’m a quite toned Indian-American.

    @Mano Bernie isn’t really an idealist. He is very pragmatic, but he does not seem so because he doesn’t talk about the macroeconomic factors that make his plans possible. He has them hidden on his website because he is a poor campaigner.

    -- Under a single payer healthcare plan, there is only one buyer of healthcare – the government. So we get a lot of negotiating power. We can keep the prices of drugs and procedures close to their cost and reduce profit for drug companies and insurance companies. Because we’ll also go to the doctor more often and prevent diseases, we will need less expensive surgeries and procedures. Because we are not spending so much of our own money on healthcare costs, we will have more disposable income – income we are now free to spend that was tied up in healthcare bills.
    -- This stimulates the economy as we spend more – increases the literal measure of GDP. Yes, income after taxes is decreased from the increased taxes, but that is how we save money.Don’t forget that richer people, like Chris Cuomo, pay more of the cost under Bernie’s plan than poorer people. Yes healthcare profits go down, but money is taken from administrative costs, from insurance and drug shareholders not doctors and researchers, so innovation and research is not substantially weakened. It is not magic, it is macroeconomics. These are the reasons universal healthcare works in Canada. Expanding the ACA will not keep costs down because it keeps the middleman of insurance companies.
    -- When the minimum wage goes up to $15, no one will have to work 70 hours a week. This means people have more time to spend their money, and usually more time to do other things with their life such as raise their kids. We do not live to work. Of course you can’t spend so much money on hamburgers alone, so you’ll spend money on a wider variety of goods and services. That’s extremely beneficial for small businesses and developing industries. All this results in a happier and more well rested work force – a more productive work force. That helps businesses in general. Profit margins go down, but profits do not necessarily drop. We will pay a few more cents for our hamburgers, but it will ultimately be only a few more cents.
    -- His education plan is to provide free college tuition for all public colleges by taxing wall street speculation. Wall Street speculation means trading. And he’s accounted for the drop in volume. This means that you will have fewer trades based on manipulating and guessing the market so stock prices are stable and reflect the value of their companies.
    -- And finally, most people ignore the fact that his proposals actually benefit one another in small ways individually, but a lot as a whole and as time goes on. Healthcare costs go down when fewer people are overworked and when there are more researchers (who were students once) and thus more effective treatments in the long run. A healthier populace is a smarter populace and kids who spend more time with their parents tend to be more educated. Again his policies are not magical thinking but macroeconomics.

    If he sold his plans like that instead of just saying it works elsewhere, would he have your vote?

  5. Pierce R. Butler says

    Marcus Ranum @ # 2: If Trump makes the oligarchy and two party system into a laughingstock, it might be good in the long run.

    Very close to the Weimar-era Communists said about an earlier vulgarian -- and twelve years later, they were proven right. That is not to say that their strategy worked out optimally.

    However, last I heard you live in Pennsylvania, where the electoral-college-vote appears irreversible (this year). That provides lot of margin for both personal expression and political organizing, with little risk of a Y2K rerun.

  6. StevoR says

    @2. Marcus Ranum :

    I am one of those disaffecteds. Is Sanders gets the nod I’ll go vote for him. But if it’s Clinton i may sit back just see what happens. If Trump makes the oligarchy and two party system into a laughingstock, it might be good in the long run.

    So you would effectively in practical terms be voting for Trump -- or even just remotely possibly Ted Cruz -- to become your President and leader of the world’s greatest military and last superpower standing.

    You’d really be okay with that and the implications such as allowing people who are so right-wing and extreme and hateful that even a very large chunk of the Republican party can’t stand them and worry that they’ll go too far nominate Supreme Court Justices and have immense political power to actually impose some of the awful things they have advocated for and have their fingers on the buttons (& launch codes) for The Bomb.

    Because it seems you just hate Hillary Clinton that much and don’t see how much better she is than any of the Republican options?


    Mano Singham OP :

    If the Democratic party is not careful and Hillary Clinton is the party nominee,

    When it comes to Hillary Clinton being the Democratic party nominee its pretty clear now that there’s not much ‘if’ about it. She will be, get used to it.

  7. StevoR says

    PS. I agree a low Democratic party voter turnout would be a real concern and should be taken very seriously.

    Its something Sanders supporters need to think about before they do more damage and end upwitha worst case POTUS just because they are not going to get their first choice -- just like those who voted for Nader over Gore in the 2000 US election and thus gave the world the Dubya Bush presidency. (Along with a few other factors but given how close it was ended up being a key point.)

    So if you don’t want a repeat of 2000 here with even worse people than Dubya within coee of the immense political power of the US Presidency, then it really is time to unite behind Hillary Clinton just as you should’ve behind Al Gore then but didn’t. You know the famous truism about those who don’t learn from history right?

  8. StevoR says

    PPS. The 200 election with Gore Vs Dubya Bush II and Nader is also a really good example that shows why the US would be a lot better off (& the rest of us too) if it adopted a preferential voting system. Ie. youcan vote 1,2,3 and have your first preference flows on as a vote for your second one. eg. Nader one then he’s eliminated and your preference goes to Gore so he still wins over Bush.

    That Gore lost that election is actually a global tragedy in my view.

    A tragedy I’d like to see avoided now when it comes to Hillary Clinton potentially missing out. In some ways its rather a shame Obama beat her for the nomination in 2008. Its an interesting albeit now moot point what she could’ve done that Obama couldn’t regarding the Republican opposition and racism Obama faced. Of course, Hillary Clinton then -- as now -would’ve been up against a lot of misogyny so ..who knows?

    Anyhow, Sanders has fought the good fight and done well and had some hopefully positive impacts on US politics but I think its now time he conceded to reality and allowed the Democratic party to move on and unite and get over the primary wounds and focus on ensuring Hillary rather than Trump becomes POTUS.

    As noted in an earlier comment today, I think it would be a nice idea and a good uniting gesture if Hillary made Bernie her running mate. Not sure what the odds on that are but Berniebros continuing to attack Hillary viciously probably aren’t helping that happen or achieving anything else good.

  9. John Smith says

    @8 @7

    You’re right in that I should vote for the lesser of two evils -- I am a progressive and I believe that to be Trump. I’m way too dark to pass for white either, so don’t accuse me of racism.

    There are good arguments to be made that Donald Trump will easily beat Hillary Clinton. There are also some arguments to be made that Trump will be a better president in the long run than Hillary Clinton. Corruption is THE issue that should matter. Trump is right on it, Hillary is wrong. All other issues stem at least in part from it.

    Let us assume the worst case scenario: Trump is Hitler -- with congress, technology and the courts as checks and balances will he get anything racist done? If he is like Hitler in terms of economy then that’ll be great. Also, because Hillary blocks a progressive for 8 years, she is DEFINITELY worse in the long term than any republican other than Trump. If you believe Hillary will actually be progressive -- you are sadly mistaken. Let me show you her conflicts of interest:

    Anything On Climate Change: Her Campaign Chair is a lobbyist for BP. She got donations from Saudi Arabia (10 mil + to Clinton Foundation) and Qatar (1 mil), Exxon donated to the Foundation and her campaign as well. The Koch Bros were instrumental in getting her husband elected. She gets a lot of Mitt Romney’s donors.
    Minimum Wage: Her campaign chair is also a lobbyist for Wal-Mart and she was a director of Wal-Mart, so we’re lucky if we get $10.
    Racial Issues -- She supported GeoGroup (private prisons) until October 2015. She may do something superficial for BLM like Obama is doing. Eric Garner’s murder has not resulted in a murder charge.
    Healthcare : Insurance Donations so prices stay up. TPP makes it worse.
    Equal Pay : Okay. She will probably be for this.

    Also, there are no primary wounds for Hillary at all -- Bernie has not even used a single attack while Hillary ran a strong negative campaign against him. If Bernie supports her, it will be out of fear for Trump and nothing else. If you think Hillary will be a good president, you need to get more informed. Just read my #4 comment’s first paragraph to answer your pragmatism argument.

  10. Knight in Sour Armor says

    @John Smith:

    SteveoR already made the most important point to you: Hillary will appoint more progressive SCOTUS Justices than Trump would, something that will have longer term effects than most other presidential actions. This is THE thing that matters this election, and the Republicans already know it.

    Hillary is an absolute garbage candidate, but if you can’t hold your nose long enough to make sure we don’t get Scalia 2.0 x two or three, you should burn your progressive card.

  11. John Smith says

    Except Obama right now is considering Republicans for the job. He’s always considered moderates rather than progressives. Hillary is more conservative than Obama -- republicans will be the norm under Hillary. The Clinton brand is built on capitulation to the republicans. We’ll get republicans or corporate democrats. Trump’s only proposal was his sister who is fairly moderate. I don’t think there will be that much difference between Trump and Clinton’s SCOTUS nominees. Certainly not worth voting for Clinton over Trump for.

  12. Kreator says

    A victory for Trump will be catastrophic and won’t result in anything good, in fact it has a high chance to set back the cause of civil rights for years, maybe decades to come. The racist, mysoginistic and X-phobic sectors of America are already emboldened enough; if they find their beliefs vindicated by a Trump victory there’s no way they won’t try to double down on their hate and violence. Many people from minorities will suffer, and probably even die (at a faster rate than usual, that is). Corporations won’t be fazed by any possible trouble caused to them by good ol’ Donnie, at the very least they will just stumble for a few years before coming back in full force. After all, even something as bad as the outcome of the Great Depression couldn’t stop them for long. In the worst case scenario, they will adapt to a new, ultra-racist status quo.

  13. says

    This is actually troubling on a couple of fronts. You, Mano, had a post just a few days ago about how young people are, as Frank Luntz apparently put it, “terrifyingly liberal.” So why isn’t Sanders’ just totally annihilating Clinton? Are these “terrifyingly liberal” youth not be showing up? That’s more like “terrifyingly disappointing,” in my view. Frank Luntz has nothing to worry about if these youth don’t bother voting…at least maybe not for a generation or two until the older voters all die out so that today’s few youth that do vote can become a majority of voters.

  14. StevoR says

    @ Dunc : True to a point. The case was about the election and it was -still really is -- certainly hotly disputed and still debatable. But as the wikipedia page on it notes :

    “Later studies have reached conflicting opinions on who would have won the recount had it been allowed to proceed.”

    Basically we just don’t know. Not for sure.

    Take Nader’s votes out put them in the Gore column and Gore would I gather have won narrowly and the world today would be a much different a better place. It wasn’t the only thing -- the news calling it too early, Jeb Bush and the hanging chads and dodgy machinery and electoral court and court case were others but yeah. Nader was one key factor. He and his supporters who voted for him over Gore do deserve a fair bit of the blame for robbing Gore of victory and giving the world the lesser Bush presidency. Let’s never make that mistake again ‘k please?

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