Is the Democrats’ Bannock Street Project Working?

In what’s generally a spooky Halloween for Democrats who are having to listen to the insane triumphalist cackling of their partisan foes, Nate Cohn offers some empirical hope in the way of evidence that the DSCC’s electorate-bending Bannock Street Project might actually be working in some key states:

Democratic efforts to turn out the young and nonwhite voters who sat out the 2010 midterm elections appear to be paying off in several Senate battleground states.

More than 20 percent of the nearly three million votes already tabulated in Georgia, North Carolina, Colorado and Iowa have come from people who did not vote in the last midterm election, according to an analysis of early-voting data by The Upshot.

These voters who did not participate in 2010 are far more diverse and Democratic than the voters from four years ago. On average across these states, 39 percent are registered Democrats and 30 percent are registered Republicans. By comparison, registered Republicans outnumbered Democrats in these states by an average of 1 percentage point in 2010.

The turnout among black voters is particularly encouraging for Democrats, who need strong black turnout to compete in racially polarized states like Georgia and North Carolina. In those two states, black voters so far represent 30 percent of the voters who did not participate in 2010. By comparison, 24 percent of all those who voted in those states in 2010 were black.

If you look at Nate’s actual state-by-state numbers, the averaging he does could be a bit misleading. Democrats seem to be trailing their 2010 early voting performance in Colorado, though keep in mind that 2010 performance was successful, which is why the DSCC project is named after the 2010 Democratic HQ in Denver. And the improvements in early voting for Democrats in North Carolina are marginal. But the Georgia numbers are really something: 32% of early voters are African-American, as are 36% of early new voters. A lot of the polls that have shown David Perdue winning assume a much smaller African-American share of the total vote.

As always, at course, such numbers don’t mean a whole lot if the Election Day numbers aren’t close. But getting young and minority voters accustomed to voting in non-presidential elections is a huge long-range challenge for Democrats, and any steps made in that direction this year will matter even if they don’t produce victories on a wildly pro-Republican landscape.

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.