General Question

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Does prosperity breed complacency at election time?

Asked by lucillelucillelucille (34310points) July 29th, 2010

With the U.S. economy in a tailspin and government spending at the highest level it has ever been,will this translate into high election day turnout in these mid-term elections?

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35 Answers

JLeslie's avatar


When people talk about being disgusted that Americans don’t exercise their right to vote, I always respond that some of the reason is because most Americans are comfortable; no shows to the voting booth are a sign to me that overall our country is doing things right.

tedd's avatar

The rule of thumb is that the party not in power tends to turn out in higher numbers. (though that is not an exact science, and often times doesn’t matter).

You can expect a higher turn out of right leaning voters who don’t like the Dems. You could also expect a higher turn out of latino voters who favor the Dems. What solidly remains to be seen and will likely decide the election are two things….

1) Will semi-interested Dems turn out for the election or are they not interested/impressed enough with what the Dems have done thus far with their control.

2) (and this one is most important) How will the independent center vote/will they vote at all? Despite a seemingly anti-dem atmosphere, the Dems still regularly poll above the Repubs in general popularity (usually by around 10 points too), and Obama ranks solidly above both groups (approvals in the upper 40s, kinda sad that THATS the best rating of any politician in our country).

Personally, I think you’re going to see the far right turn out in droves, but the center will be lukewarm. I think that they’re not entirely happy about how the Dems are handling things, but that the majority of them aren’t buying the far right crazy talk (health care is going to kill grandma, Obama is Kenyan, that nonsense). I think that the Repubs are just too incredibly disorganized (see Michael Steele, spelling?) to win control of either the house or the senate.

That having been said they’ll almost for sure win seats in both.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@JLeslie-It will will be interesting this election cycle.

JLeslie's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille It will be. I have to say I am very curious about the next presidential election more than the current election. Curious to see who the Republicans pick more than anything.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@tedd -I think you’re putting too much emphasis on the far-right as being some controlling factor on the Republicans.There appears to be a great many voters within the Democratic party who say they are dissatisfied with the direction this country has taken.Given that,I feel that we can expect voters at the polls who wish to put the brakes on the direction the government is leading us.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@JLeslie -At this point they could pick a bag O’ hammers for President and it’d win ;)

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JLeslie's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille I think the far right has an incredible influence. Many Democrats would consider a moderate Republican, but as soon as they seem to be playing to the Christian right, talking creationism, and faith, many Dems check out. My father, a Republican for over 40 years, converted to Democrat three years ago because of the Religious rights hold on the Republican party. He, is worse than me, won’t even consider a Republican period anymore, and he still has many typically Republican oriented opinions on many topics still to this day.

Here is the thing if the Republicans did have some moderates they would be golden. They need to let go of the fire and brimstone, and their stance on some social issues, and they will easily have the independents and many Dems. The Christian right will still vote for the Republican, what choice do they have? I guess they might not show up to the polls? Or, maybe they might vote for a third party, those are possibilities.

Now that I live in TN I am STUNNED how the commercials for these politicians talk about faith and God., Different world down here in the south.

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cockswain's avatar

I agree with @tedd in that the right will turn out in droves. Fox News and the Tea Party have whipped people up into a frenzy that their rights are being violated in a pre-Revolutionary war kind of way (which for the record I mainly believe is based on hype and lies). I sense a lack of fiery passion for change the left showed in the 2008 election, so that complacency may result in lower turnout for them. Therefore, as dumb as the reasons will be for a swing back towards the right, I think it will happen.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@JLeslie – If the far right were an incredible influence over the Republicans ,as you say.then Mc Cain would never have been the ‘08 Republican candidate.The fact of the matter is,the US has always been a Christian nation,not that it is preferable.
Take your experience in the south,as evidence that this has always been a Christian nation,and let me remind you,that the south has historically swung towards the Democrats.So to say that Christianity,be it radical or mainstream ,has never played a role in Democrat politics is to not understand the history of the Democratic party.
Democratic Senator Robert Byrd,while attempting to stop civil rights legislation in the ‘60’s,often referred to the Christian south during his anti-civil rights tirades.

Cruiser's avatar

Overall in all elections, history will show that yes, prosperity does breed complacency at election time. We are talking mid-terms here when we are at the bottom of one of the worst performing economies in our nations history, millions still unemployed, zero “REAL” job growth, a highly unpopular war in Afghanistan, and 2 months into one of the worst ecological disasters ever and a very questionable performance of his handling the situation. I could go on, but the picture is pretty clear our country is hurting, in trouble and the Presidents approval rating is 45% and has been below 50% for some time. Things are a mess and there is little to no coat-tails left behind the President for the Dems to jump on. And with Rengel and Pilosi standing shoulder to shoulder with Obama, voter turnout at the mid-terms should be impressive if not record breaking if only for the simple reason is that the public has an intrinsic preference for a divided government and that we have in spades right now.

JLeslie's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille Well, I am not talking about years ago. Believe me I am reminded all of the time how the south used to be full of Dems, and the Republicans down here seem to need to tell me that the southerners who are still Dems are racist, I am not sure if they are trying to imply I am teaming up with the racists or what? And, the majority of the Democrats down here are black, and are towards the right on social issues for religious reasons, which I don’t agree with. You have probably heard me say in the past I have more in common with a norther Republicans than a southern Democrat. And, when I generalize about southerners, I am not saying all southerners, or all Christians for that matter.

It does not matter what the party was 40 years ago. Both parties are guilty of just picking the opposite side of an argument for votes, rather than just coming to the best solution for the nations on a myriad of issues.

As soon as a politician launches into religious talk I begin to shut down. Some of it may be semantics, we might have the same values, and I try to listen to what they are really trying to acheive and ignore the God, and faith, and seeming judgemental cast for those who are not religious or Chistian.

JLeslie's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille Don’t you think Palin was picked to satisfy the far right?

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@JLeslie -You generalized about the Republicans,you generalized about Southerners,Democrats and now you’re generalizing about Northern Republicans.If you’re going to use generalizations,one must know their history in order to be accurate.
Notice,my question is specific and does not deal in generalizations.
Are you saying this election will be decided on generalities or economic issues?

cockswain's avatar

Could it be decided on many issues, the most general being the handling of the economy?

mammal's avatar

Yep, one thing you can guarantee about the major western industrialised nations, is that if the going gets really tough we will see a shift to the far right of the political spectrum.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

A poor economy usually favors the party not in the majority. Hopefully, these elections will be resolved in a “civil” fashion.

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

“In America, you have a choice! The capitalist party, or the other capitalist party!”
– Dmitri Orlov, Russian emigre

ragingloli's avatar

That would not really be a problem if people knew that the development looks like this, and not like the total failure that right wing demagogues try to accuse Obama of. But alas, people are brainwashed sheep, so they will vote accordingly.

ItsAHabit's avatar

Yes, it does. A low voting turnout is typically seen as a sign of voter satisfaction.

JLeslie's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille My original answer to your question still stands Yes. When people talk about being disgusted that Americans don’t exercise their right to vote, I always respond that some of the reason is because most Americans are comfortable; no shows to the voting booth are a sign to me that overall our country is doing things right.

I think the history does not matter much for the upcoming election, what matters is what are politicans promising today, where do they stand today. And, yes, I think generalizing is what people do a lot of the time. But, I have specific examples, like Mitt Romney who was pro-choice in Mass, and could win in a generally blue state, and then he gets on teh national scene and becomes pro-life. He basically provided for universal health care in teh state of Mass, but then tried to play into the right wing even on that issue. I am sure we could name Democrats who have dome similar thinks to play to some group, nothing comes to my mind, but I don’t doubt it.

President Clinton is a Democrat who I very much agree with on many and most issues, he is a southerner, so he would be outside of my generalization. I am willing to not make an assumption about a politician, but to listen to him and see where he comes from, but as a voting block generalizations make sense. That is what marketers and sociologists do, evaluate groups and make statistical generalizations. People in the business of politics evaluate what the Hispanics, Blacks, Catholics, Jews, etc, will do in a election. I guess some people get offended when they are part of a group and do not fit a generalization, they don’t want to be lumped, in, I am NOT doing that. I am not saying all people within a group behave the same.

I think economic issues are big factor this time. Politicans around me seem to talk a lot about reducing spending, but not giving many details on how they are going to do it. Also, creating jobs, and that they will not vote for increasing taxes. I think those are the big issues. Around me they also talk about how they are family men and men of faith. All of those things seem to be what is important to people in my neck of the woods. I think this election is about local issues, so each state is a little different. Some states are going to really push the illegal alien card, my state is doing a little of that. I had someone call me to vote for a particular candidate running for county mayor, and when I asked what are his goals once in office, she said spend our tax money better. When I asked her on what, she didn’t know. My point with that story is many people vote for the person who has the right buzz words, and the voter may know nothing about the real content of any promise or issue.

cockswain's avatar

@ragingloli Useful graphic, thanks. I agree with you that the majority of the voting population does not have facts. They vehemently defend the belief they do, but their statements reveal they do not. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve argued the validity of Fox News vs. NPR/PBS/BBC. Rarely do people want to believe they could have been so wrong. They usually just counter-argue “those are all liberally biased, so how do you know you have your facts right?”

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@JLeslie -History has and will play a part in any and all elections. The old axiom,“Those who do not know their history are destined to repeat it” should be a reminder to those who would rest on their laurels in this election cycle.
If you want to make generalizations then defend them by all means. If you think the Republican party is controlled by far right wing Christians, as you stated, then by all means defend it. If by inference you feel the Democratic party has become so secularist that you and your father find safe solace from those right wing Christians who drove him from the Republican party, then defend that.
If you think the South is a whole other world and by inference Christian ,then defend that, but please do not back- peddle away from your generalizations with tortured rationalizations about marketers and sociologists. Had you wanted to use statistical analysis, and not cast aspersions against groups that you wish to undermine, you would have done so from the beginning.
All these broad generalizations have run far afield from the original question.

JLeslie's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille I was responding to your comment to Tedd @tedd -I think you’re putting too much emphasis on the far-right as being some controlling factor on the Republicans. I did not bring up the far right originally. I was not under the impression I took the thread off course.

I am not backpeddling, I am clarifying.

And to clarify something that someone pinted out to me when I said if the Republicans got some moderates they would be Golden, I meant Republican candidates, I know there are many moderate Republican Citizens in the party. I do not think they are completely controlled by the right, I think they take the right into consideration as a large enough statistical influence that they don’t want to lose their vote. And, the Democrats do not give me safe solace because they are more secular, there are plenty of religious people in the party, they just don’t wear it on their sleeve, they seem more aware of the diverse population they are speaking to, because the party probably is more diverse, and simply they do not use the language that makes me uncomfortable. As I said, when I hear apolitician use those words I try to look past it and just listen to what their agenda is, their goals while in office.

Some 15% of the electorate in the United States tell pollsters they align themselves with the Christian right, which serves as an important voting bloc within the U.S. Republican Party.

Electoral activity
Christian Right organizations conduct polls to determine which candidate will be supported and ultimately, represent, the Christian Right in the public sphere. For example, from October 19 to October 21, 2007 the Family Research Council convened a summit of several hundred conservative Christian activists in Washington, DC called the Values Voters Summit. The mission of the meeting was to conduct a straw poll on who is the best choice for religious conservatives.[18][19] George W. Bush’s electoral success owed much to his overwhelming support from white evangelical voters, who comprise 23% of the vote. In 2000 he received 68% of the white evangelical vote; in 2004 that percentage rose to 78%.[20]


Meanwhile, I am happy to let it drop. I feel maybe you misperceive my intent, and I am having a hard time explaining myself.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@JLeslie -“I think the far right has an incredible influence”
“because of the Religious rights hold on the Republican party”
Did I not just cut and paste this from your previous answer?
I wouldn’t put too much stock in Wiki
‘nuff said ;)

ItsAHabit's avatar

lucille3 You’re correct to be dubious about the reliability of Wikipedia as a source. A lot of faculty don’t accept references to Wikipedia on student papers.

perspicacious's avatar

Yes, I expect a high turnout in November.

Cruiser's avatar

@ragingloli That article supports Wiki in the area of science only and even so…. From your article….

But it has been criticised for the correctness of entries, most recently over the biography of prominent US journalist John Seigenthaler.”

“But reviewers also found many factual errors, omissions or misleading statements: 162 and 123 in Wikipedia and Britannica, respectively.”

“Nature said its reviewers found that Wikipedia entries were often poorly structured and confused.”

As @lucillelucillelucille said IMO Wiki is not a totally reliable source to base definitive answers or your opinions unless of course you are open to corrections.

Just for grins….from Wikipedia… ;))

“In a 2004 interview with The Guardian, self-described information specialist and Internet consultant[24] Philip Bradley said that he would not use Wikipedia and was “not aware of a single librarian who would. The main problem is the lack of authority.”

JLeslie's avatar

I agree wikipedia should not be taken as the Gospel. More fact checking would have to be done to accept something as being completely accurate.

cockswain's avatar

Sure, but because something is from Wiki doesn’t mean it is invalid. Usually I’ve found it to be correct, and rarely have I found something way off. Sometimes when I use wiki as a source, someone will remind me “wiki isn’t always 100% accurate.” Guess what, it’s way more reliable than most crap on the web.

JLeslie's avatar

@cockswain I agree with that too.

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