Republican Surge or Democrats’ Not Needing to Turn Out?

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The local commentariat is united in proclaiming Republicans’ surprising strength in the primary election—especially against Kim Schrier, the Democrat who two years ago wrested the 8th Congressional District away from the Rs who’d always held it.

Schrier, a pediatrician-turned-rookie candidate who won the seat by a whistle, seemed to be doing everything right, from fundraising and constituent contact to emerging as a voice on public health and the pandemic. And yet she took just 44 percent of the primary vote, versus 49 percent for three Republican would-be challengers. Assuming she can’t pry away many of those Republican primary votes (a fair assumption), the numbers seem ominous for Schrier, and for a few Democratic legislators also in swing/split districts.

Except…. What no one seems to note is that, with Democratic incumbents coasting to nomination and reelection in every statewide race except lieutenant governor and secretary of state, Democratic voters had much less reason to turn out for the primary than Republicans. They’ll have every reason to show up when Donald Trump is on the ballot in November.

Trump meanwhile repels many of the independent and soft-R suburban voters in the 8th who would support Schrier’s opponent, Jesse Jensen. Turned off by Biden as well, some may just sit the final out. Unless of course they’re huge Kanye fans.

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