It's that day again. If you're obsessive enough about politics to be reading this, you should probably already be registered to vote by mail (assuming you live in a state that allows it.) But if you're registered to vote at the polls, be sure to get out there and vote today.
If you believe that there really is value in seeing Democrats defeat Republicans--as I suspect most of you do--then it's very important that you vote. It's not just that your vote helps win elections today. When you vote, the Democratic Party knows that you're that much more reliable a voter. We don't have to spend as much money making sure you show up, and you won't get harassed as often. From a progressive warrior point of view, it also means that when there are intra-party primaries to pick the more progressive Democrat, the campaigns will fight harder over your vote because they know you're going to show up.
For the rest of you, this is why the people who say they're going to "punish" politicians by not voting are just deluded. You're not punishing anyone. You just fall off our radar. We stop caring about you at all.
As campaign workers, we sort voters a number of different ways, but the most important beyond partisanship is voter frequency. If you're a Democrat who voted in the last 3 major elections, we call you a "3x3" voter. We know that you're almost certainly going to show up and we know you're almost certainly going to vote for the Democrats on the ballot; all we have to do is make sure you know who all the Democrats are in the non-partisan races, which Democrats to vote for in the primaries, and which initiatives to vote for.
If you voted in 2 out of the last 3 major elections, we have to spend more money on you--not to convince you how to vote necessarily, but to just make sure you get out and show up to vote the right way at the top of the ticket. If you're 1x3, we will call and harass you almost endlessly, because you're unreliable.
Do you know what happens to 0x3 voters? We just don't care about you. You're not worth the time. We don't read your facebook posts or internet comments about how much you hate both parties for the NSA or Afghanistan or whatever. You're a cipher. You have far more impact on us if you're a 3x3 conservative Democrat who threatens to leave the Party and start voting for Republicans, because then we both lose your vote and our opposition picks up a vote. You would have far more impact by being a regular voter and threatening to leave and vote Green Party, but since the Greens aren't exactly going to pick up any seats, all we've done is lost your one vote. Which sucks, but not as badly as losing someone to the Republicans does.
So guess what? When a bunch of Democrats who voted in 2008 decided to just not show up at the polls in 2010 because they weren't inspired or whatever, the Democratic Party didn't say to itself "oh, we should be more progressive and inspirational!" The Party said, "well, those people can't be counted on. Let's worry about the more conservative senior voters who are on the fence."
If you want to make the Democratic Party care more about progressives and progressive issues, withholding your vote isn't how to do it. That only weakens your hand.
The biggest way to make an impact is to be both loud and reliable. Particularly when it comes to voting in Democratic primaries. Make sure the party knows you vote, that you'll vote for Democrats generally, but that any individual politician may or may not get your vote--and that you'll vote against them in a primary if it comes to that.
Those are the people who scare politicians. Not the non-voters.
So get out there and vote. Because you know what we call the sort of person who votes in a June off-year midterm primary? Someone we have to pay attention to.
Cross-posted from Digby's Hullabaloo