Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Guest Blogger: Enrique Davis-Mazlum “Can mid-term elections reshape U.S. political system?”

The upcoming mid-term elections which will take place on November 6th, 2018, are key to shaping the United States’ political system. For many, a conservative Senate majority is a threat to women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, health care, student loans, immigration reform, the status of DACA students, gun control among other issues and that is why for them the American Dream is barely holding on by a thread.

These mid-term elections are decisive, because there are 33 Senate seats up for election (26 are Democratic seats and 9 are Republican seats), all 435 seats in the House of Representatives (235 Republicans, 193 Democrats, 7 vacant) and 36 gubernatorial elections (26 have Republican Governors, 9 have Democratic Governors, 1 has an independent Governor).

In order for the Democratic Party to have control of the Senate, they need to win all current 26 seats and at least two that Republicans have. The best bet for the Democratic party is increasing their traditional voter turnout in four key states. Voter participation for Democrats is the key in states such as Arizona, Nevada, Tennessee, and Texas. One of the main problems with elections is that organizations talk about thousands of additional votes to flip a county, a city, a district or a state, yet they fail to use a grassroots strategy at the precinct level.

Going back to the 2012 U.S. Senate election in Arizona, Republicans won by 67,915 votes, and the Presidential election in 2016 by 91,234 votes, which represents a 3.43% difference in that state. What is interesting in Arizona is the cross vote in favor of Governor Doug Ducey (R) who has a 10.5% lead over David Garcia (D), this represents about 228,819 votes or about an average of 156 votes per precinct. But in the Senate race, you have Kyrsten Sinema (D) with a 3.4% lead according to Real Clear Politics Average (RCP AP). On the other hand, in Arizona there will be over 1.7 million people who are registered to vote but will most likely not participate. This represents 1,160 registered voters on average per precinct who will most likely stay home, and this is where Democrats could focus part of their strategy. If David Garcia and Kyrsten Sinema want to win the Governorship and Senate seat in Arizona they need to organize a grassroots strategy to get at least 160 additional votes per precinct on average out of those 1,160 voters.

In Nevada Jacky Rosen (D) is ahead in the polls by a small margin, her lead is about 2.3% which represents around 17 votes on average per precinct. In 2012 Senator Dean Heller (R) won by 11,576 votes which represent about 7 votes on average per precinct. There are states where decisions at a national level will have a direct impact, this is why Nevada can swing and become a blue state this November.

Another close race is in Tennessee, where according to RCP AP Phil Bredesen (D) is behind by 2.7% from Marsha Blackburn (R). This difference is about 34 votes per precinct. This Senate race received national attention due to the fact that singer Taylor Swift expressed why and how she will vote in the mid-term elections: “I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love. Running for Senate in the state of Tennessee is a woman named Marsha Blackburn. As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me. She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values. I will be voting for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives. Please, please educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values.”

Another Senate race that has national attention is in Texas. Senator Ted Cruz (R) won with 56.6% of the votes and a margin of 16.1% in 2012, raising over $14.5 million dollars, while his opponent Paul Sadler (D) only raised $705 thousand dollars. Today the Senate race in Texas has a 6% difference according to RCP AP between him and candidate Beto O’Rourke (D). Incumbent Senator Ted Cruz (R) has raised $23.36 million dollars, while Beto O’Rourke (D) has raised $23.33 million dollars for this election. This means that Democrats need to mobilize their base, statistically, there will be over 2.4 million registered Democrats who traditionally don’t vote, this represents an average of 319 democrat voters per precinct. The grassroots strategy for Beto is mobilizing one-third of these registered voters, which will give him a small lead, but enough to win. It seems like a lot, but in reality 106 additional votes only represent 0.05% of 2030 average voters per precinct, it’s all a matter of organization at a precinct level.

In these elections, there are key groups that can influence the outcome: Latinos voters, Black voters, millennials, part of centennials and women. The Latino population in the states of Nevada, Arizona, and Texas can be of great influence, but the problem in this group is the lack of participation, they tend to watch and voice their opinion, but when the time comes they don’t act, which is why there needs to an organized group at a precinct level making sure they do their part on election day.

The question is, will Democrats be able to plan a grassroots strategy to mobilize the votes they need to win in these key states? We will have to wait until the night of November 6th, 2018.

Enrique Davis, is a political analyst on Mexican & US elections, he has an Honoris Causa Doctorate and candidate to Ph.D. in Politics with Gender Focus. E-mail: enrique.davis@loscandidatos.com Twitter: @enriquedavis

Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are those of the writer; they do not necessarily reflect the views of Latinovations