When only a small percentage of voters goes to the polls and those that do vote tend to be the most partisan parts of the electorate, guess what happens? Partisan elected officials get elected.
Here’s what turnout has looked like in the past few Arkansas elections:
2010 midterms – 48 percent
2010 primaries – 29 percent
2008 presidential – 65 percent
2008 presidential primary – 35 percent
2008 general primary – 18 percent
That means lots of people are voting in the general election for candidates that were chosen by the most partisan voters on the left and the right in the primaries. The result is a partisan Congress – and the mess we saw on the debt ceiling deal.
Voters can’t complain about their choices if they sit out the primaries. A more diverse Congress would be less partisan. And for that to happen, more people must vote in primaries and midterm elections.