Obama’s ‘inevitability’ and his coattails

On the way in to work this morning, I started thinking about how almost inevitable an Obama win will be next week. So much so that I started thinking about hos this could affect down ticket races.

There are two ways to look at it:

Democratic Complacency
There is a saying I’ve heard used and could be appropriate hear: Contentment leads to complacency which leads to catastrophe.

Now, I know the Democratic GOTV machine is pushing along like they are losing. But when media reports – and the CNN Magic Wall – show Obama leading in enough states to capture the presidency, some voters could be content with the situation. They might be willing to skip the election because their candidate is going to win anyway.

This could hurt down ticket Democrats and help down ticket Republicans.

If non-traditional or first-time voters who might have come out to support Obama no longer feel they need to vote for him decide to sit it out, Democrats for Congress, Senate, as well as state and local races will find themselves fighting harder to get out their voters. This could impact races like Ileana Ros-Lehtinen versus Annette Taddeo for Congress in Miami, or even Kevin Beckner versus Brian Blair for Hillsborough County Commission.

Peaking early and coasting in can have some negative consequences.

Republican Apathy
The flip side of this coin would be the disheartening of Republican voters. Those who want to vote for McCain may decide to skip the election entirely because their guy appears to have no hope of winning. This sad realization could make an already challenging Republican GOTV process that much harder.

Republican candidates could be swept aside less by a tide of liberal voters than by a lack of a strong base turning out for them. The Diaz-Balart brothers in Miami could suddenly see themselves out of Congress because their supporters didn’t feel the need to vote. The same could be true elsewhere in the state and nation.

Reality Check
Okay, I can tell you from my days managing campaigns that “supervoters” are super voters – they will vote even if they are the only one casting a ballot for their candidate, come hell or high water. These voters are not swayed by the emotion of easy victory or impending defeat. And if they have not already voted, they will be there on November 4.

So what does this all mean? Probably some combination of Democratic Complacency and Republican Apathy will have a drag on the election turnout. We are seeing record numbers of voters casting ballots ahead of time, either through absentee or early voting. However, those numbers could mean fewer people heading out next Tuesday — and that will be the key sign of how long Obama’s coattails really are.

About Jim Johnson

Editor and publisher of The State of Sunshine.
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