There’s going to be a long, sad, and ugly discussion about this election, but I think we all have known and will know the essential problem: Democrats do not turn out in off-year elections. Here’s one example from my neck of the woods. In the NY-25 race, Democrat Louise Slaughter is fighting for her political life in what should have been a gimme race. At this moment, Louise is up 605 votes of the 190,697 votes cast, with 2,500 absentee ballots left to count. In 2012, 322,760 people voted — 120K more voters than in 2014. There was one interesting down-ticket race, which was for State Senate. In that race, the Republican won by 15K votes with a total of 89K votes cast. In 2012, the Democrat won a close race where 134K votes were cast.
I’d consider this election a worst-case for my area. There were no interesting national elections to turn out Democrats, but Republicans were energized to win back that State Senate seat. So perhaps in a more normal year only 1/3 fewer voters would turn out instead of the 37% fewer this cycle. Still, I’m looking at a House race where in 2012 the Democrat beat a well-financed, popular Republican by 55-45, and she’s barely winning against a no-money nobody today. So unless your Democrat wins 60-40 in a presidential year, don’t expect their off-year race to be a no-brainer.