- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The get-out-the-vote effort is ramping up to fever pitch as midterm elections draw nigh. Voter behavior, however, remains a mystery.

People vote or don’t vote for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes they’re first in line to complete their civic duty. Then again, maybe it was raining and the dog got loose — and voting was not on the to-do list that day. Whatever the reasons, strategists spend many hours trying to fathom what motivates Americans to turn out — or turn away.

Some states have eager voters, and some states don’t.

“In the 2016 U.S. presidential election, more than 137 million American adults, or 61.4 percent of those 18 years and older, went to the polls to cast their votes. However, voter turnout was not evenly distributed over the 50 states,” writes Grant Suneson, an analyst for WallStreet24/7.com who based his research on U.S. Census Bureau data.

“Maine had the highest voter turnout rate of any state at 72.7 percent. Hawaii had the lowest voter turnout by far, at just 47.3 percent,” he writes. “It is not entirely clear what drives voter turnout higher in some states, though people do seem to be more likely to vote in tight races. If one candidate is polling well ahead of another, voters may not feel their vote would make a difference.”

It’s quirky, though. In the five states with the highest voter turnout in 2016, the winning presidential candidate’s margin of victory was less than 3 percentage points. In the five states with the lowest turnout, the margin of victory was at least 8 percentage points, and often well above that.

The top states for voting are the aforementioned Maine — with Wisconsin in second place (70.5 percent turnout), followed by Colorado (69.5 percent), New Hampshire (69 percent) and Minnesota (68.7 percent), to round out the top five. The lowest rate of voting goes to aforementioned Hawaii. West Virginia follows at 50.8 percent — then Tennessee (54 percent), New Mexico (54.8 percent) and Texas (55.4 percent).

A REMINDER FROM MATTIS

On Tuesday, Defense Secretary James Mattis gave a well-received speech to the cadets at Virginia Military Institute. Here is one small moment from that afternoon.

“America’s got two fundamental powers. There’s the power of intimidation and the military. The U.S. military exists to warn people, ‘You take on America, and free men and women are going to fight like the dickens.’ The power of intimidation,” he advised.

“But there’s also the power of inspiration. And the power of inspiration could reach halfway around the world to the Euphrates River Valley and affect someone, no matter how blinded they were at that moment by a hatred. I want you all to remember that, because when you’re out there, you’re also going to be a part of the power of inspiration. And you surrender that high ground — that ethical high ground, that moral high ground, the historic legacy that we carry with us — at our nation’s peril. So you hold that close.”

THE INEVITABLE KAVANAUGH BIAS

An exhaustive study has declared that TV news is “rigged” against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh. This is significant. Remember that all major broadcast and cable news networks will offer gavel-to-gavel coverage of Judge Kavanaugh’s appearance on Capitol Hill on Thursday. Consider watching C-SPAN if you crave comment-free coverage. Meanwhile, the new study reveals much.

“During the twelve days since Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein publicly announced the existence of an unspecified allegation against Brett Kavanaugh, the ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news shows have spent nearly six hours (344 minutes) regurgitating various unproved allegations against the Supreme Court nominee,” writes Rich Noyes, a senior analyst for Newsbusters.org, a conservative press watchdog.

“But only a tiny percentage of that coverage — a measly eight percent — has been devoted to Kavanaugh’s denials and the lack of corroboration for his accusers’ accounts,” he says.

“His flat denial was relegated to a few seconds in lengthy stories about the charges — sometimes no more than a parenthetical clause that reporters mechanically inserted in stories that bombarded viewers with the salacious details of each accusation,” Mr. Noyes notes.

‘DENOUNCED AND DEVOURED’

Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass sees the larger implications of the Kavanaugh matter.

“The accused is forced to prove his innocence before accusers who must be believed, accusers who aren’t expected to bring witnesses, accusers who must not under any circumstance be subject to rigorous cross-examination, before judges who have already made up their minds. What we’re witnessing is the symptom of an illness now deep within the very bones of our republic,” Mr. Kass writes.

“It threatens Republicans now, and Democrats tomorrow. It will threaten even those who don’t give two figs for politics and see all such talk as lies told by knaves to fools. What we are seeing are founding American principles being swept — among them the presumption of innocence and the rights of the accused — to feed the appetites of power politics. That’s what Kavanaugh is dealing with,” Mr. Kass says.

He concludes: “The short-term politics of all this is quite clear, a movement led by cynics and assisted by their handmaidens in the Democratic Media Complex. Somewhere in America, there must be Democrats who read John F. Kennedy’s ‘Profiles in Courage’ when they were children, Democrats who must be sickened by what is happening and would speak out. But they must be afraid, lest they, too, are denounced and devoured.”

POLL DU JOUR

65 percent of U.S. “young people ages 15-34” say elected public officials do not care about what this age group thinks.

64 percent of this group are interested in the midterm elections.

49 percent feel anxious about the midterm elections.

30 percent say they are Democrats, 25 percent are independents, 23 percent are “none of these” and 21 percent are Republican.

Source: An Associated Press/NORC poll of 1,012 U.S. “young people age 15-34” conducted Aug. 23-Sept. 10 and released Wednesday.

• Kindly follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin.


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