I’m nowhere near the first to say it, but it bears repeating: if Dems want to hold on to the White House (because it sure doesn’t look like they’ll take back either chamber of congress), they better start showing up. This from Sahil Kapur at Bloomberg:
The first tests are in, and the signs of a revolution at the ballot box are scant. Rather than a surge of the previously disaffected, Democratic turnout was down in the first two states to hold contests in the nomination race—by 28 percent in Iowa and 13 percent in New Hampshire.
172,000 voters in Iowa compared to 240,000 in 2008, and 251,000 in New Hampshire compared to 288,000 in 2008. Big losses in each state, but circumstances are different now than they were back then. First, we’re not closing out a disastrous two-term Republican Presidency. Second, 2008 had a wider array of candidates, and there was a lot of excitement at the idea of having either our first black or first woman President. Plenty of people are still excited at the prospect of electing our first woman President, but lower turnout can in part probably be ascribed to winding down in a pretty decent two-term Democratic Presidency and the fact that for a long time it’s seemed like an inevitability that Clinton will get the nomination and then the office.
But where the Democrats are down, the Republicans are up. And up and up and up. 186,000 Republicans showed up in Iowa to vote this year, as opposed to 121,500 in 2012 and 119,000 in 2008 and 87,600 in 2000. In New Hampshire, 284,000 Republicans voted, a new record. In 2012 it was 248,500, and 234,850 in 2008. (It was a little higher in 2000, when 236,800 voted, about 2,000 more than in ’08, but either way they stomped the Democrats that year when only 154,000 of them went to the polls. We all know what happened in the general that year.) It doesn’t bode well. Dems had an astounding 287,000 voters in the New Hampshire primary in ’08, outdoing Republicans by more than 50,000 votes. This year they topped the Dems by 33,000. Hmm…
Dylan Matthews at Vox assures us that Iowa and New Hampshire are not representative of the US:
The United States is a diverse place. Iowa and New Hampshire are not.
Only 4.7 percent of Iowans and 5.6 percent of New Hampshirites are foreign-born, compared with 13.1 percent nationwide. Only 7.2 percent of Iowans and 8 percent of New Hampshirites speak a language other than English at home; 20.7 percent of American families do.
And a whopping 88.7 percent of Iowans and 92.3 percent of New Hampshirites are non-Hispanic whites.
Only 1.5 percent of New Hampshirites are black. One and a half percent.
New Hampshire and Iowa are also markedly less urban than the rest of the country; they have cities, but none are particularly big. Des Moines, Iowa’s biggest city, has only 209,220 people; Manchester, New Hampshire’s largest, only has 110,448.
He argues, I think correctly, that this is a big reason why the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary ought to either be eliminated or changed up with other caucuses and primaries to some sort of random assignment or revolving door ordering. Thing is, they’ve shown, at least in this century, which party was going to do better in the general. (Okay, okay—Gore got more votes in 2000, but it was really close, and he didn’t get the Presidency, so it’s still indicative.) It’s not like either of these states always goes red the way South Carolina does, so even if they’re not decent representations of the country as a whole, If that’s the case, Sanders will have to kick his revolution into high gear if he wants to overcome the approaching GOP behemoth, much less Hillary Clinton.