Remember all you want, but if we don't vote, the NRA wins.
My early thoughts
following our Colorado recall election losses on Tuesday were focused almost entirely on turnout. The overriding thesis is simple: If our people turn out, we win. But that's easier said than done because:
1) Core Democratic groups (Latinos, African Americans, youth voters, single women) have the worst voter performance, and
2) Republicans will do everything they can to prevent our people from voting.
Colorado featured both: with core Democratic groups staying home, while conservative-instigated court decisions created barriers to voter participation.
An Atlas Project analysis bolsters those observations. On the first point, on voter participation:
Turnout was incredibly low – the lowest in those districts since a 2011 statewide tax referendum. In both districts, turnout was more than 20 points lower than 2012 turnout, from 56.6% to 35.7% in SD-03 and from 41.5% to 21.3% in SD-11.
Those numbers are also well below the 2010 GOP-wave year numbers of 44 percent in SD-03 (Angela Giron), and 29.4 percent in SD-11 (John Morse).
And on the second point:
The unprecedented nature of the election led to several court decisions that confused the electorate and, among other things, disallowed voting by mail — the method historically preferred by Democratic voters vs. GOP voters (by 29.4% in SD-03 and 9.4% in SD-11 in 2012) — presenting Republicans with a dramatic advantage.
Given the razor-thin margin of victory, there's no doubt in my mind that we win Morse's SD-11 if we had vote-by-mail, used by over 50 percent of the district in 2012, and with a nearly 10-point Democratic advantage.
We don't have exit polls to determine who turned out and who didn't, demographically. But note this—the biggest falloff from Democratic performance was in the Pueblo-based Giron's SD-03 district. In that district, 39.7 percent of the voting-age population is Latino, compared to 21.7 percent in SD-11. Given the difficulty in getting the Latino vote to the polls, a larger dropoff makes perfect sense. (Compounded by the fact that all anti-recall persuasion efforts appear to have been done in English.)
Reiterating: Money wasn't a factor, progressive groups outspent conservatives $2.3 million to $500K. It wasn't even close. Yet money isn't enough to get our voters to the polls, at least not how it was spent in those Colorado districts. (Same dynamic played out in 2012, except it was Republicans with the big spending advantages.)
It was disappointing to lose those races, but they serve as the perfect exhibit of the challenges that we face in 2014: If our people turnout, we win. But our people don't like to vote, and Republicans will do everything in their power to encourage that non-participation.