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Rhoads: Who Cares Enough to Vote?



By Mark Rhoads -  Clinton-trump-composite

Most readers of IR follow politics closely but with different perspectives and levels of understanding because most of us have limited time to devote to the study of bills and candidates.

But we know there is another universe of Americans who do not follow politics and who almost never vote in elections.  I thought that the 2012 election between Obama and Romney would be closer than it was. It might well have been closer if Hurricane Katrina had not frozen the Romney campaign in place just days before the election and given Obama beneficial publicity to appear presidential for several days in managing the response to the storm while Romney was out of the news almost entirely.

In the end, even though there was an increase of eight million new eligible voters on the rolls in 2012, the number of people who voted declined by five million from 131 million voters in 2008 to 126 million in 2012. The turnout percentage of eligible voters voting was down in every state and DC with the only exceptions of Iowa and Louisiana.

So far the 2016 election looks to be very strange because both major party candidates appear to have such high negatives with the public. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll published last week probed how American voters feel about both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. A majority of voters expressed negative feelings about both leading candidates. Traditionally, a fair number of partisans on either side of the aisle express negative opinions about the other party's candidate, but the latest poll found that a majority of voters express negative feelings about both leading candidates.

Sixty percent said they either "dislike" or "hate" Clinton, while slightly more — 63 percent — expressed negative opinions about Trump. Forty percent said they "admire" or "like" Clinton, and 36 percent said they "admire" or "like" Trump.  

The math in the Electoral College is very complicated and it is possible in theory that even in a two-way race neither candidate might win the 270 Electoral Votes required to be elected president. If no one gets to 270, then the Constitution provides that the election would go to the U.S. House of Representatives where each state regardless of population gets only one vote under a unit rule.

Republicans have the majority of members in 33 state delegations and Democrats have the majority in 16 states and the state of Maine is tied with one House member from each party.  The members of the House may vote for anyone they like regardless of who was nominated by the parties, or results in the popular vote, or the Electoral College results. This potentially gives a great deal of power to the House Republicans to elect anyone they can agree on.  

Unlike the vulnerable GOP majority in the U.S. Senate this year, the GOP maintains a good chance of keeping the overall House majority and the majority of delegation members in 33 states which is a majority in the House to decide who wins.

But millions of Americans will not care enough to vote at all and thy give more power to those who do take the time to vote.  There are two schools of theory about the effects of a very negative campaign.  One is that a negative campaign will energize base voters and increase partisan turnout.  But the other school holds that to much negative advertising drives turnout down for both candidates.  This will be a good year to test both theories.


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  1. 2 things:
    1) 40 percent say they “admire” or “like” Clinton?
    Those people would be what is known as “America’s Comprehension Retards”, and that voting block doesn’t concern me one bit.
    2) the group that will win this election – the group you fail to mention or you are trying to ignore (because it will be the deciding factor which elects Mr Trump overwhelmingly) – is referred to as “the monster vote”.
    This group includes the tens of millions of voters who either:
    a) have never voted before but are interested now,
    b) felt so disenfranchised that they did not vote in the previous General election or 2,
    c) voters switching parties to vote for nationalism over globalism
    You ignore these voters for purposes of writing your #nevertrump propaganda, thereby attempting to help Hillary’s cause, but you won’t be able to ignore them/us in November.

  2. “say they “admire” or “like” Clinton?
    Those people would be what is known as “America’s Comprehension Retards”,”
    ????? Trump has said what about Clinton in the past? Who had her at his wedding?
    It is so obnoxious how you Trump supporters can claim he has “evolved” suddenly on every damn issue or subject.

  3. Lime many Trump enablers, “Lake Conservative” has a habit of attacking the motives of anyone who expresses disagreement with Trump which I did NOT do in this particular post. But like the childish Donald Trump himself, his followers make fun of the disabled as LakeConservative does by his childish use of the offensive term “retard.” OK, we differ on policy but for Heaven’s sake Trump fanatics please get a real life and grow up. If you claim to be a conservative and know as little about our Constitution as Trump does, then you are not really a conservative and you are just pretending to be one just as Trump is pretending to be a Republican.

  4. Your memory fails you yet again, Mark. Hurricane Sandy occurred in October/November 2012 and Hurricane Katrina occurred in August 2005.
    You’re not blaming nature for Obama’s victory in 2012 now, are you?

  5. I honestly can’t think of any Trump supporters except for Sean Hannity that pretend he’s evolved on issues. Again, it’s about punishing the establishment. And there is no way he can be worse than any of the pathetic lot we were offered in this election. A crazy socialist, an ornery old bird, a couple Cubans, a fake Libertarian, a symbol of the establishment, a sleepy black guy, an effeminate senator, a fat slob governor, a decent governor who evolved, and a couple of guys pretending their given names weren’t their actual names.
    I really believe this is solely rage against the machine. And there’s no way it could be worse than the sorry aforementioned could offer. No way.

  6. Who said anything about “evolved”?
    And the only thing I see that is obnoxious is those who continue to want to vote for establishment republicans – OR HILLARY CLINTON – rather than clean house of the lying b*st*rd establishment republicans.
    All you establishment republican lovers better prepare to have your widdew feewings huwt many more times between now and November.
    Because as long as you continue to support the lying b*st*rds, you deserve it.
    And I mean you Sam Pierce.

  7. That is me, establishment all the way. I fully support cleaning out the lying bastard Republicans. That does not mean I could support a different lying bastard because he claims to be a Republican. Unlike some of you, I have outgrown the Republican Party.

  8. Thank you for correcting me about the name of the 2012 hurricane. Why not hold Trump to the same standard and correct his many mistakes and ignorant statements. The reason I am BOTH NEVERTRUMP AND NEVERHILLARY at the same time for similar reasons if well stated today by Jay Nordlinger in National Review.
    The two major parties have offered you Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. That’s not good enough. That’s not good enough for America. Moreover, these two are birds of a feather. Each has a long record of corruption. In fact, their records intertwine. Trump is Mrs. Clinton’s donor; and Mrs. Clinton is his donee. They have been part of political cronyism for decades. Each of them lies as easily as most people breathe. We have lived with Mrs. Clinton’s lying since 1992, at least. How many tales has she told about her e-mail arrangement? She can’t even keep them straight. There’s an old saying: “I cannot tell a lie, because I don’t have a good enough memory.” As for Trump, he posed as his own spokesman. Then he acknowledged he did it. Then, forgetting he had acknowledged it already, he denied it. Also, how much money has he contributed to veterans? Does anyone know? And did Ted Cruz’s dad really have a role in the Kennedy assassination? Trump is a man who thinks that Putin does not kill people — but that Pastor Cruz offed Kennedy and the Clintons killed Foster. Neither Trump nor Hillary has a clue about limited government. Or the separation of powers. Or the Anglo-American political tradition, the very expression of liberal democracy. Trump issues threats to publications that dare criticize him. His admiration of Putin makes sense — and ought to alarm any believer in democracy. Trump thinks that judges “sign” “bills.” Do you have school-age children? Have they ever taken civics? Could they inform the Republican nominee of the basics?