Rick Santorum photo: Associated Press
Dan Balz writes at the Washington Post:
In 15 of the 25 states with statewide primaries, turnout was the lowest ever, and only three of the 25 saw an increase over the last mid-term election in 2010. One of those that produced increased turnout was Mississippi, but that happened during the extraordinarily contested run-off election between Sen. Thad Cochran (R) and his tea party challenger state Sen. Chris McDaniel.
Taken together, just 15 percent of the voting-age population cast ballots — or 18.2 million people out of 122.8 million eligible. Turnout was 17 percentage points lower than the most recent high-water mark of 32 percent in 1966. Democrats were down 14.5 points from their 1970 high, or 20.9 percent of eligible citizens, and Republicans were down five points from their 1966 high of 13 percent.
He blames Republicans for this because Republicans generally support Voter ID, wherein you show your ID at the polls so that poll workers know that you are who you claim to be. Democrats claim Voter ID suppresses the vote, but this defies reason given that the weighted average of licensed drivers in U.S. states is 89% of the adult population. States issue photo IDs for people who cannot drive, so the vast majority of people have a state-issued photo ID, but most of them still do not vote.
Because so many people can vote, and do not vote, it is safe to assume that most people don’t vote and that they do not vote simply because they choose not to. The question, then, is why do people choose not to vote? In a 2008 Census survey of registered non-voters, we find the answers.
[T]opping the list of reasons for not voting is a lack of interest (13%) or a dislike of the candidates or issues (13%). More than a quarter of registered nonvoters in 2008 didn’t vote because they weren’t interested or didn’t like their choices.
Many reported illness or disability (15%), especially among older registered nonvoters. Others were too busy, or had conflicting schedules (17%). That’s about a third of the registered nonvoters.
Of the remainder, many had some logistical problem with the process: 6% had problems with their voter registration, 3% did not have convenient polling places, and another 3% had some sort of transportation problem. And 0.2% reported that bad weather conditions kept them from the polls on election day.
What does this tell us about why not all of those who are registered actually cast a ballot in the 2008 presidential election? According to the Census Bureau data, 131 million people participated in that election, of 146 million registered voters, and of 206 million citizens who are of voting age. Those who are registered and otherwise eligible to vote, but who don’t, are tuned out or turned off; they are sick or too busy; or they have something procedural that prevents them from voting.
Several of these things can be attributed to a sense of futility: lack of interest (13%), dislike of the candidates or issues (13%), too busy or conflicting schedules (17%). A total of 43% of registered non-voters did not vote because they see voting as a futile act.
The idea of futility can stem from a sense of contentment, a sense of hopelessness, or a sense of complacency. Democrats know this, hence Barack Obama campaigned on “hope and change,” a clear nod to the real reasons for low voter turn-out. The message worked for the Obama campaign, but the increase in voter turnout in 2008 compared to 2004 was still less than 2%.
Democrats have much reason to want their base to be able to vote multiple times per person (which can happen a lot more easily without Voter ID) given that it is projected that Republicans will take control of the Senate. Republicans already have control of the House. In the end, however, both parties are more concerned about winning elections than about whether you, as an individual, are inspired to vote in them. This is why both parties tend to avoid a lot of really important issues and will hammer away at just a few. Democrats have focused for some time on the so-called “war on women” whereas Republicans are talking about “jobs, jobs, jobs” and also “jobs.”
Back in the 2012 Republican primary, the political class was shocked that Rick Santorum won in Iowa and, despite a massive campaign to characterize him as a “one-issue” (socially conservative) candidate, he won not only in the South, but also in Colorado and the Midwest. Why? Because he told the truth (as he sees it) and he was willing to answer any question on any issue. That is what voters want, and that is why I believe that if he runs again and if he is not shut out of public discourse by the vast wealth among both Republicans and Democrats, he will both get the nomination and win the 2016 presidential election. Voters want someone who honestly and truthfully talks about the things they care about, and that means all the issues, not just one or two. If they see that in a candidate, they will come to the polls as they did for Santorum in 2012, despite his being massively outspent and continually demonized in the media.
Read Rick Santorum’s book: Blue Collar Conservatives: Recommitting to an America That Works