Election 2014: GOP Has Midterm Engagement Advantage
On top of the Obamacare issue, which is having a major impact on vulnerable Democrat incumbents in battleground states, the NYT’s Upshot blog notes that Democrats are also facing a serious potential midterm election turnout problem - one that may impact Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) the hardest:
Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina seems as if she should be part of the firewall in the Democrats’ bid to retain the Senate, considering that incumbents tend to win re-election in states that are competitive in presidential elections.
But Ms. Hagan is far more vulnerable than she appears at first glance. North Carolina might be the state where Democrats suffer the most from low midterm turnout. The state is divided between older, culturally Southern and conservative voters, and younger, more diverse and more liberal voters, especially around the Research Triangle and Charlotte.
In presidential elections, those two groups fight nearly to a draw. In midterm elections, when older voters turn out at much higher rates than younger ones, the Republicans have a big advantage.
If Ms. Hagan cannot broaden her political appeal, it is not clear she can win a midterm election in North Carolina.
The gap between North Carolina’s younger (under 30) and older voters (over 65) is among the most pronounced in the country. In 2012, North Carolina’s seniors voted for Mitt Romney by 29 points, more than twice his 12-point advantage nationally among older voters, according to exit polls. By contrast, President Obama won North Carolina’s young voters by a 35-point margin, better than the 24-point margin he won nationally. This 64-point gap between young and old North Carolinians was nearly twice as large as it was nationally. Lower youth turnout, then, is twice as damaging to Democrats in North Carolina than it is nationally.
The article also points out that Hagan won NC in 2008 by 8 points – a margin of victory that in its entirety “came from voters under 30″, and that President Obama, between 2008 and 2012, “lost more ground among younger voters than any other age group.” Make sure to read the whole thing – it’s a report that will give the Hagan team serious headaches and nightmares, if they haven’t already identified the issue themselves.
Break out the popcorn!