But back to AOC. One of the interesting things about her is that her support from the district she represents is so skimpy, even as her national fame only increases. Her campaign finance records show that, even though she raised more money than any other of the 87 House freshmen, only 10 of her constituents have contributed $200 or more to her reelection campaign so far. The $1,525.50 they pitched in was only 1.4% of her total fundraising haul.
She didn’t win all that many votes in her district either. The 14th District of New York, covering parts of Queens and the Bronx, had a 2010 population of 782,402. But only 29,778 people voted in its June 2018 Democratic primary (Republican turnout, as typical for New York City, was negligible). It’s true that a large number of 14th District residents are children and legal or illegal immigrants ineligible to vote. Its immigrant percentage is surely one of the highest in the nation. But it’s still also true that less than 10% of residents participated in the primary that elected AOC, who effortlessly beat a Republican in November by a 78% to 14% margin. The celebrity congresswoman, perhaps the most publicized House member after Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was effectively elected by 16,898 voters in a nation of (the latest Census Bureau estimate) 329,448,990 people.
This is not an anomaly. In many central cities, sympathetic suburbs, and university towns, voter turnout in elections not held in the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November in even-numbered years is pathetically small.