Odd-Year Midterms

So If, as I’ve been incessantly noting, Republicans have a pretty significant turnout advantage in midterm elections thanks to a relatively new tight alignment of the two parties with elements of the election that do and don’t show up in midterms, you might expect GOPers could do exceptionally well in off-year midterms where less regular voters would have neither presidential nor congressional races to engage their interest.

In that connection, check out Dave Weigel’s numbers for the 2009-2012 turnout disparity in Virginia, which he cites to explain why a guy like Ken Cuccinelli has never lost and shouldn’t be underestimated this year:

Cuccinelli’s secret is simple: He runs when things are good for Republicans. Virginia holds state elections in odd-numbered years, so their A-team—Gov. Bob McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, Cuccinelli—haven’t ever fought the tide of Obama turnout. In 2009, Virginia’s electorate was 78 percent white and 40 percent “conservative”; in 2012, those numbers fell to 70 percent and 31 percent.

If anyone in the High Command of the DNC or the White House wants to prove that the Obama campaign’s much-vaunted 2012 GOTV effort can work in a midterm, this year’s statewide elections in Virginia and New Jersey might be good places to start.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.