Elections have come and gone and Republicans have dominated in more than a majority of places. The end results aren’t derived from a voter-mentality shift in political views. Instead, the results came from the Democratic party’s apathy. The turnout for this midterm election was abysmal to begin with, but Democrats around the nation failed to show up when it mattered, allowing Republicans to secure electoral victory.
In California, one of the most blue states, voter turnout decreased from 44 percent to 22.6 percent from last midterm elections. Vermont also had a record low turnout, one that was just 70 percent of their previous record low of 44.4 percent of voters in 1978. In Maryland, the Democratic vote fell in its largest jurisdictions and as Derek Willis, a writer for The New York Times, put it, the Democratic turnout “was the difference in the Maryland Governor’s Race.”
Unlike most of the country, Arkansas’ voter turnout actually increased. What is especially telling about this fact is that Republicans now hold every congressional seat in Arkansas. Colorado was shown to have an increase in voter turnout as well and again, like in Arkansas, Republicans finished victorious.
It’s a clear indicator that the midterm voter turnout isn’t a result of voter apathy across all parties, but instead it came from apathy that seems to be primarily within the Democratic Party. Why are Democrats becoming so apathetic?
It could be attributed to the constant lock-down of Obama’s political efforts by the Republicans, but I find the Democratic Party’s inability to make a surefooted move must also be recognized. It may also be a sign that voters are identifying less as Democrats. I find that though it may not be that prevalent at this very moment, party barriers are getting chipped down. In an ongoing poll from Gallup, the average percentage of people who identify as independent has risen around 10 percent since 2005. The poll also questioned whether or not those identifying as independent leaned more towards Republican or Democratic ideals. More often than not, independents leaned more towards Democratic ideals. This shows that more Democratic Party aligned voters exist, but weren’t able to swing the midterm in the Democrats favor.
There’s something to be said for party affiliations. I find that I’m much more enthusiastic about whatever I’m doing when I belong to a certain group. Our two party situation is too extreme. In everything there are more than two ideals, and politics is obviously no different. These extreme views are butting heads with the ever increasing section of voters who are more moderate with their ideals. Many Americans already have an unenthused mindset towards politics, couple that with a lack of identity and the turnout for those individuals voting is going to be lessened.
The fact that Democrats are either voting differently or just not showing up to vote altogether is frightening for those not affiliated with the Republican party. Now more than ever it is imperative that people show up to vote, since politics, at least for this midterm, seem to be turning more one-sided than ever.
Collegian Columnist Troy Wilkinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Blumitts.