Democrats are nervous about Democratic Sen. Josh Newman’s chances of surviving a possible recall election in his Orange County-centered district. His narrow win in a traditionally Republican district last year provided the party’s Senate supermajority, thanks largely to a high presidential election turnout.
A special recall election would have a very low turnout, which would help the Republican Party’s effort to unseat Newman, so Democrats have changed election rules to make it more likely that the recall would appear on next year’s general election ballot instead. Turnout would be higher then, although probably less than were it a presidential election year.
Even if Newman survived a recall attempt, another low-turnout general election next year could see a few legislative seats go Republican and the supermajorities once again erased. That’s because the turnout differential between presidential and off-year elections appears to be growing, according to new research by the Public Policy Institute of California.
California’s overall voter registration falls short, vis-à-vis that of other states, and PPIC researcher Eric McGhee attributes that to low rates among fast-growing Latino and Asian populations. But McGhee attributes the very low, and declining, turnout in off-year elections to “the behavior of young voters.”
“Young people,” he writes in his report, “have been voting at slightly higher rates in presidential elections and at much lower rates in (off-years) than voters of the same age did two decades ago.”
Democratic leaders, concerned about the effects of low off-year election turnouts, have been trying to goose participation by making registration much easier, but McGhee believes that registration alone won’t close the gap and that highly focused get-out-the-vote efforts would be needed.
Categories: Sacramento Update