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There are Presidential year elections (2012)

There are off-year elections (2014)

And then there are off-off-year elections (2013)*

By now we're sick of hearing that Democratic base turnout is low in off-year elections, leading to results like 2010.  The Chuck Todds of the world are pounding that theme over and and over.

But will it be true in 2014?  In Virginia in 2013 (an off-off year), something different happened.  

As Kos wrote last week, "Virginia proved last year that it could maintain African-American turnout in a non-presidential election."  That is a striking development compared to prior off-year elections.

But it wasn't just African Americans who turned out in Presidential numbers in an off-year in Virginia.  


Women, and particularly single women, are also a key part of the Democratic base, and they turned out in Virginia last November, voting for Terry McAuliffe (D) by 67 percent to 25 percent.  Critically, like African-Americans, their turnout equaled the turnout in 2012.


The same is true of Latinos.  According to Blue Virginia, 95,000 Latino votes were cast in 2013, according to the Latino Decisions exit poll.  "In contrast, the 2009 Virginia Governor's election saw just 45,000 Latinos vote. Thus, Latinos made up 3% of the Virginia electorate in 2009 & approximately 5% this time."   (The Latino vote in Virginia increased from 74,000 in 2008 to 103,000 in 2012, according to American Progress.)


The "Yute" vote (as Fred Gwynne would have said) did not go as overwhelmingly to McCauliffe as the African American, single women and Latino votes did, but it did support him 45-39. Moreover, as reported by Rock the Vote:

the youth vote's share of the overall electorate in Virginia increased by 3% points when compared to the 2009 gubernatorial election. Among voters 18-29 years of age, Terry McAuliffe beat Ken Cuccinelli 45% to 39%. In 2013, the Democratic share of the youth vote increased by 1% point and the Republican share decreased by 15% points when compared to 2009.
This is bad news for Republicans.

Fortunately, the Democrats have noticed these signs from Virginia and organized the Bannock Street Project, designed to increase off-year turnout to Presidential year turnout, especially among the groups mentioned here. (“Bannock Street” is drawn from the name of the Denver field headquarters for the campaign of Senator Michael Bennet, who won in 2010 in part by generating higher than forecast turnout.)

Virginia has produced a road map for success in 2014.  By volunteering and contributing, we can keep the Senate and perhaps even regain the House (a long shot because of gerrymandering, but worth the effort).

*There are also off-off-off-year elections, like FL-13.  Although the GOP win there has been used by the pundits to predict Dem. gloom and doom, it should not be.  It had long been a Republican seat, the candidate was weak and as an off-off-off year election it posed the greatest possible challenge for Democratic turnout.

Originally posted to Bethesda 1971 on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 10:09 AM PDT.

Also republished by Virginia Kos and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The Bannock Street Project is a good one (4+ / 0-)

    Democrats need to focus on (1) getting information on the issues to the voters, and (2) getting voters to the polls. The Rethugs pull all kinds of dirty tricks, like putting up fake Web sites that look like actual Democratic candidates' Web sites. People innocently donate to the sites without realizing that the money goes to the Rethugs.

    Another thing they do is put up posters in poor neighborhoods telling people that the election is on a different day from Tuesday. This also throws people off. Not everyone is aware that elections are always on Tuesdays in this country (unless they're special elections or something).

    Tactics such as these need to be anticipated and nipped in the bud.

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 12:11:43 PM PDT

  •  Thanks to the editors (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oortdust, tidalwave1, Edge PA

    for putting this on the Community Spotlight.

    •  The Only Way (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      for Democrats to win elections in many states in the past was to work hard to win swing voters, independents and yes, some Republicans, and largely ignore base Democratic voters.  Many of these states have now turned blue or dark purple, but many D candidates are still running under the old model.  Until D candidates start talking to their base, exciting them, talking about issues critical to them, you will keep getting the same results.

      The poster child for this strategy is Alex Sink in her run for governor in 2010.  Sink lost the election by a hair, but she spent all her time and money courting swing voters in the I-4 corridor and ignored her base voters in southern Palm Beach County, Broward County, and Miami-Dade County.  As a result, turnout sucked in all three counties due to her inability to connect with base voters, she left several hundred thousands votes off the table, and she lost a race she should have won.  

      The Bannock Street Project is a critical component to keeping control of the senate in 2014 and winning elections in the future.


      "The quote on the Statue of Liberty doesn't say 'give me your english-speaking only, Christian-believing, heterosexual masses'

      by unapologeticliberal777 on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 07:45:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Virginia is bizarre. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oortdust, Bethesda 1971

    Each year it holds a crucial election. In addition to the presidential years, there are midterms when congressional seats and sometimes senators are elected. Then there are the odd years, when the HoD and governorship is chosen (2009, 2013, etc). And the other odd year (2007, 2011, 2015) is the only time the state Senate is chosen.

    Odd indeed, given that it's literally election year every year.

    •  Which is actually why not voting surprises me (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bethesda 1971

      I have to keep in mind that many of those who live in Northern VA may have moved here recently, and not be aware that VA has elections every year.

      People tend to either not know that or forget it. When we tell the electorate to go and vote in this election, we need to find a way to remind them that this is something they can and should do every year.

    •  We also have elections tons of times per year (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bethesda 1971, bananapouch1, Lujane

      I lived in Pittsburgh for nearly 6 years. In that entire time, there were 2 presidential elections, 1 midterm, primaries for each of those, plus 3 local (municipal or county) primaries and 2 local general elections.

      Granted, Pennsylvania helps these matters by having their presidential primary way on the late side.

      In 2005 I moved to Virginia. In the first year and a half there was a gubernatorial election, a local primary, a Senate primary on a different date from the local primary, the local election, then the midterm election on a different day. In 2012 we had the presidential primary, and the Senate primary, on different days as well.

  •  Virginia turnout (6+ / 0-)

    is the Mother of Presidents, the Commonwealth is where the most important battles of the Revolution and the Civil War were fought, and now is turning BLUE.

    Virginia was Democratic in 1965 when I moved here but it was Byrd Democrats left over from the 50's and massive resistance to school integration.

    We DID have the good sense in 1966 to elect one of the finest public servants to ever grace the Commonwealth, US Senator William B. Spong.

    1966 was a Republiacn year in Congress...the Democrats had run the table in the 1964 elections and after Kennedy's assassination they voted Democrats into seats where they had never gone before.

    LBJ asked Spong to run against incumbent US Senator Willis Robertson (that's right, Pat Robertson's daddy - now you know why Pat hates liberals so much) and Spong beat him like a drum in the Democratic primary, ending the Harry F. Byrd political machine and its racist connections to the Democratic Party.

    Soon the racists got the message and moved to the Republican Party.

    Spong beat someone named James P. Ould from the nonexistent Virginia Republican party in the general election by a mile.  What a win!

    Meanwhile the Republicans had Mark Hatfield (R-OR), Charles Percy (R-IL) and Howard Baker, Jr. (R-TN) defeat 3 long time Senate Democrats who had run into trouble over civil rights and the "tired of LBJ" factor.

    The House went strongly towards the right that year too.

    LBJ's majority was reduced and his power was never the same again as in 1965.

  •  With a handle like Bethesda1971 (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Edge PA, cville townie, Bethesda 1971

    you are not allowed an opinion on VA...

    ...just kidding. I'm just playing the friendly rivalry as one who grew up in the shadow of the Beltway on the VA side.

    I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. - Susan B. Anthony Everything good a man can be, a dog already is. - pajoly

    by pajoly on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 12:06:25 PM PDT

  •  The Occupy movement... (0+ / 0-)

    "perhaps even regain the House (a long shot because of gerrymandering, but worth the effort)."

    If the occupy movement had been really serious, they would have looked at the results of gerrymandered districts then moved to/taken up residency/registered to vote in lower population districts where they they could swing things the other way using gerrymandering against the establishment.

  •  Absolutely critical!!! (0+ / 0-)

    When we vote we win.

    They ALWAYS come out to vote.

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