The 30% turnout drop, if polling samples are valid would be put several races in play, as only conservative voters or suddenly enthusiastic Trump type supporters — who would largely be opposed to these moderates — would turn out for primary votes.
Republicans look at districts like Barbara Bollier, a Republican who often votes more left-leaning than many Democrats, and salivate at the potential voter drop-off.
[Ballotpedia] Kansas House of Representatives, District 21 Republican Primary, 2014
Barbara Bollier Incumbent
In 2014, Barbara Bollier fended off a conservative challenge convincingly.. but with low turnout. 1,819 votes to 1,232. With only 26 days left to file a candidate, Democrats have yet to find the right candidate in this district; but conservative Republicans spent the night privately rejoicing. If data is correct, a drop off of even ½ of the projected value — let’s say 15% — a shave of 457 voters in a primary? Suddenly this race is much, much closer. More importantly, if the Republican model is correct and many Republicans just refuse to show up in August, frustrated with their party and defecting away from Trump, the number could easily hit the 30% marker.. and then? Suddenly, when only conservative voters remain, moderates find that even a moderate district can trend move away from them.
The question that no one knows is whether or not voters stay home, hop the fence to become a Democrat, or stay the course and vote for Representatives who have done well in primary elections of the past. With more Republicans saying they may leave altogether, it is Republicans who serve in mixed to Democratic lean districts who are most at risk.
Democrats have long put up token challenge to these races, citing concerns in both raising money and issues with challenging friendly incumbents. Faced with incoming data that says they may be looking at an unprecedented shift in who is even coming out to vote, Democratic parties in conservative states will be forced to make real decisions. Do they trust the traditional model as to who will turn out in a Republican primary and leave those races untouched, or do they field actual candidates, both to advance their party and also to protect against the path conservatives see in a low turnout primary election.
Conservatives aren’t waiting. When Mark Hutton (R-Wichita) announced his retirement, it wasn’t a moderate who jumped at the chance to replace him, but former representative Brenda Landwehr, who starts from a far more conservative point of view. Statewide, in filings against Republicans or open seats, the Republicans who are filing are often more conservative than the member they hope to replace.
With filing deadlines in Kansas quick approaching — June 1 — real decisions will have to be made. For moderates, coming out against Trump early and often may keep their moderate voters who have saved them in the past coming to the August primary. It may also alienate conservative voters who will be offended by a Republican advocating for a Democratic party member to win the white house.
It is a gigantic unknown at this point, and for those who are concerned about the future of the State of Kansas, it is that uncertainty that may force a lot of very complicated decisions in the coming weeks.
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