The upcoming Midterm Elections appear to be a referendum on not just the Obama Administration, but the public’s view of both parties as a whole. Still, there is a large swath of voter apathy, and both parties are using this to their advantage. Sadly, both left and right wing power brokers understand voter tendencies too well, and use this knowledge and understanding of behavior to their advantage, often to the detriment of average Americans.
Here are some practices used to drive voters away, and they are also ways to tell a race has national implications for both parties.
One of the oldest, and dirtiest, electoral tricks in American history is the practice of using personal attack campaigns to drive away undecided or moderate voters. Both sides have been doing this for decades for a reason: it gets results. In Georgia, less than fifteen percent of registered voters were estimated to have turned out for a GOP runoff between longtime Congressman Jack Kingston and former Dollar General CEO David Perdue for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Saxby Chambliss. The runoff campaign featured a ton of mudslinging on both Kingston and Perdue and, in the end, most moderate Republicans, feeling they had no voice, shied away. Perdue, who defeated Kingston, now faces Democrat Michelle Nunn in a campaign which has already featured some major attack ad campaigns. The average voter is often turned off by the this sort of silliness, and it keeps the majority of voters at home.
Don’t think for a moment that celebrity means strictly “Hollywood Elite.” Such endorsements are, more often than not, coming from activists on both sides of the aisle who are known commentators, pundits, or entertainers. On the right, Rush Limbaugh, Neal Boortz, Herman Cain, Eric Erickson and others are the rings most GOP candidates kiss to get the party base out to vote for them. On the left, Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, Oprah, George Clooney, and Hillary Clinton are those whose “support” is sought by candidates looking to ingratiate themselves with the Dem base. While these endorsements mean little to the average person looking at the issues, these are the people who base activists pay attention to as an indicator of whether a candidate has the chops to get down and dirty in D.C. Sadly, these endorsements also tend to drive away moderate voters.
Out of State Donations
Think that city councilman you love who is running for the U.S. House is really “keeping it local?” Think again. While the saying “all politics are local” is ultimately true, both Democrat and Republican nominees usually rely heavily on major out-of-state contributors for statewide races. Rare is the campaign which does not derive a large portion of its money from a donor or donors who live or work outside the election locale. Most major corporations, for example, contribute something to every major Congressional race, with “major” being dictated by the candidates connections and/or the potential of the race to bring a candidate who heavily favors the interests of a particular person(s) or industry. Boogeymen George Soros and the Koch Brothers have their financial fingers in the pies of political races in all fifty states. This also serves the purpose of creating disillusion among workaday voters who really could care less about whether a candidate voted for National Kick-A-Liberal Day or National Conservatives-Suck Day.
When a campaign features two candidates calling themselves “true” whatevers, it’s a safe bet this campaign has attracted eyes from around the nation. Most voters could give a flying flip if their local candidate is “conservative” or “liberal” - the question is if that candidate can get the three-month old pothole on Main Street patched tomorrow, or what their plans are for luring a big company to town that will bring in more jobs. Buzzwords such as “true conservative” or "true progressive" are bandied about because a candidate wants to become a national darling and seeks higher office than what they are currently running for. It’s also a way to raise major campaign cash which, sadly, has become the reasonably reliable indicator of a candidate’s chances of success in the election. Most average, non-activist voters could care less about the label – they care about what their candidate can do for their town or street.
There is a interesting trend in political campaigns – skewed polling. While it has been going on for a long time, it has become a near constant feature during hotly-contested campaigns. One of the reasons for this is that the respective parties use these poll numbers to drive base voters to the poll and whip them into a frenzy. When average voters see these polls, it tends to give them the impression they have no voice. Sadly, it has become a classic dirty trick of American politics – keep the poll numbers skewed in favor of one ideology to keep undecided voters from making their voice heard.