Another reason for Dems to worry: Low primary turnout in California

Politico reports on another reasons for Democrats to worry about the upcoming midterms. In deep blue California the number of ballots being returned in primaries is looking low so far.


After this week’s break in the primary calendar, seven states will hold elections on Tuesday. In the biggest of them, California, Democrats are already looking at some troubling early turnout numbers: So far, only about 2.2 million Californians have returned ballots. That’s less than a third of the total early vote at this point in California’s recall election last year.

Primary turnout is traditionally a poor indicator of general election turnout. But Paul Mitchell, a leading political data expert in California, says Democrats have reason to be concerned this year.

Mitchell, who works with Democratic campaigns says everything that can be done to make voting easier in California has been done. And yet, it looks like many Democrats just aren’t feeling motivated right now. He sees that as a potential cause for concern, at least when it comes to congressional races this fall.

At the top of the ticket, it probably doesn’t matter. I would expect the Democrats to be the top vote getters in all these statewide primary elections. And unless something goes awry, they’re probably all going to have easily beatable Republican opponents, and those races are not going to be competitive.

Where Democrats do need to worry is those competitive congressional districts…

If there’s nothing interesting on the statewide ballot in the 2022 general and voters aren’t enthusiastic, just like they are here now in this primary, then, in those kinds of elections, Republicans could win some of these seats…

Democrats nationally need to be looking at California and saying, How do we kind of jolt the electorate into caring about this election cycle and turning out?


I’m not sure what Mitchell has in mind but I think a case can be made that voters are already feeling pretty jolted. We’ve had a leaked Roe v Wade draft decision, a series of mass shootings and high inflation that has gas prices setting new record highs every day. The problem for Democrats is that they can’t really do much about any of those issues. Sure, Biden can meet with the Fed chair and talk about inflation but as he admits it’s really up to the Fed to do something and that will take months.

Similarly, he can be shocked and outraged by the end of Roe but that’s in the hands of the Supreme Court. There’s not much he can do about it and there’s even less a freshman member of the House from California could do.

And then there are the mass shootings we’ve seen in the past two weeks. Biden gave a speech tonight vowing to “do something” about that. “For god’s sake, how much more carnage are we willing to accept,” Biden said. And that brought him to his plan: “We need to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. And if we can’t ban assault weapons then we should raise the age to purchase them from 18 to 21.”

Before the speech was over, Biden made an explicit call to elect Democrats this fall. “If Congress fails, I believe this time a majority of the American people won’t give up either,” he said. “I believe the majority of you will act to turn your outrage into making this issue central to your vote. Enough. Enough. Enough.”


Would banning AR-15s have prevented any of these attacks? It’s impossible to know the answer to a counterfactual question like that but we do know the Tulsa shooter bought a pistol days before he bought an AR and he used both during his attack. Would it have mattered if he or the Uvalde shooter only had handguns? I think the long delayed response by the Uvalde police may have mattered as much or more, but at this moment people don’t want to hear that, especially people on the left.

I guess we’ll see if it works. People really are horrified by what has happened and many just want to see something change even if there’s no guarantee it will stop the next deranged shooter. Maybe Democrats can ride this issue to victory in some places this fall. Then again, desperation is never very attractive and I think we’re seeing a bit of political desperation from Democrats right now.

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