Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Why the well-off turn out to vote and what happens when they do

Here's the last election story from Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Streambed on Mars discovered edition) on Daily Kos, which joins the press releases and articles I featured May the Force be with Elizabeth Warren tonight!, Romney should buy shares in Obama, and Consumer confidence up but mostly among Democrats. Hey, I'm an environmentalist; I recycle.

First, CNN explains Why the rich vote more.
By Annalyn Censky @CNNMoney
September 24, 2012: 5:46 AM ET
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- It's well established that the richer you are, the more likely you are to vote.

But why aren't the less well-off turning out at the polls? In the 2008 presidential election, 80% of adults from families earning at least $100,000 a year voted, while only 52% of adults from families earning $20,000 or less cast a vote, according to data from the Census Bureau.
One reason for the voting disparity is that lower-income people tend to be less educated and not as politically active in general. In contrast, wealthier people are often better connected to donors, community leaders and politicians who encourage them to vote.

"People with more income are likely to feel like they have more at stake in terms of taxes, public services and various benefits," said Lane Kenworthy, professor of social and political science at the University of Arizona. "People with lower incomes are more likely to feel disillusioned, because they tend to feel like policy never changes."
This is no surprise to me. When I covered this year's Michigan Republican Primary, I noticed that the most well-off parts of Oakland County, Lake Angelus, Beverly Hills, Bloomfield Hills, and the adjoining areas of Birmingham, Bloomfield Township, and parts of Troy, had the highest turnout. That most likely put Willard the Rat over the top in Oakland County, where he won 50% to 39%.

Join me over the fold for how this effect played out statewide in the 2010 general election.

Governor-elect Rick Snyder led a sweep of statewide offices in Michigan. Washtenaw County bucks statewide GOP trend
Republicans swept all statewide races in Michigan on Tuesday, from Governor to the elected boards of the state's three major research universities. Not a single Democrat won election or re-election, with the possible exception of Elizabeth Bauer, who is currently trailing Richard Zeile for the second contested seat on the State Board of Education.
Statewide, Republican Rick Snyder won 58.1% to Democrat Virg Bernaro's 39.9%. In Washtenaw County, Bernaro earned a plurality with 49.89% to Snyder's 48.26%. This contrasts with Snyder's performance in the primary, when he earned a victory because of his strong showing in his home county.
The Washtenaw County Clerk's office calculated turnout at 46.85%, slightly above the statewide figure of 45%. Also, only 3.49% of the state's population resides in Washtenaw County, enough to place it sixth, but well behind second place Oakland County with 12.09% of Michigan's population and a 52.36% turnout. Republicans easily won all statewide offices in Oakland County.
Wastenaw County was only one of five counties that gave Democrat Virg Bernaro majorities or pluralities of their votes. Wayne County led the way with 60.12% the vote cast for Bernaro and 38.33% for Snyder. Next came Genessee County, where Bernaro earned 51.26% to Snyder's 46.72%. Washtenaw fell just short of giving Bernaro an outright majority. Tiny Gogebic County in the Upper Penninsula followed right behind Washtenaw, giving 49.4% of its vote to Bernaro and 47.3% to Snyder. Bernaro's home county of Ingham brought up the rear of the counties the Mayor of Lansing won, handing him a squeaker with 49.0% to Snyder's 48.8%.

Unfortunately for Bernaro, winning majorities in the state's first (Wayne, 19.32% of the state's population) and fifth (Genesee, 4.25%) populous counties did not carry the impact one might have expect because of low turnouts. Only 529,587 out of Wayne County's 1,352,052 registered voters cast ballots on Tuesday, for a turnout of 39.17%. Genesee County fared only marginally better, with 134,926 of the county's 335,069 registered voters participating, for a turnout of 40.27%.

High turnout (52.36%) Oakland County had nearly as many voters participate (473,277) as Wayne County despite a significantly smaller pool of registered voters (903,874). The high turnout, combined with a stronger showing for Republicans than in the state as a whole--Snyder won 60.07% to Bernaro's 38.33%, a margin of nearly 100,000 votes--by itself offset most of Bernaro's lead of 153,000 votes in Wayne County, with the remainder being swamped by the margin in favor of Snyder in Macomb County, the third most populous county.

The low turnout in the two largest Democratic counties in the state, along with the merely average vote in the next two largest Democratic counties in the state (Ingham County had a turnout of 45.76%) not only doomed Bernaro, but had disastrous effects on all other Democrats on the statewide ballot.
As you can see, it was the combination of high turnout in Republican areas with low turnout in Democratic ones that resulted in the GOP sweep in 2010.  Time to get out the vote.

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