July 25, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Turnout in Virginia, N.J. Could Be a Big Problem for Democrats

Often, as they did last cycle, Republican leaders in Burlington and Ocean counties quarrel over which county should produce the party’s nominee for Congress. But this time, both counties have lined up behind Runyan. Angry voters are likely to be more motivated, and that probably means more Republicans going to the polls.

In Virginia, the lack of a statewide contest could hurt as many as four Virginia Democratic House Members: Reps. Glenn Nye, Tom Perriello, Rick Boucher and Gerry Connolly.

Freshmen Nye and Perriello were swept into office during the ’08 Democratic wave, while Boucher, who is sitting in a district that gave Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) his best showing in the state (59 percent) during the White House election, has not faced a stiff challenger in years.

The state’s GOP nominee for governor last year, Bob McDonnell, won Nye, Perriello and Boucher’s districts with more than 60 percent of the vote, and he carried Connolly’s district by more than 10 points.

It’s difficult to compare turnout in Virginia in the 1998 election — the last time Members of Congress stood for election without a presidential or Senate contest above them on the ballot — to election years with statewide contests because seven of the state’s 11 House Members in the 1998 election ran without major party opposition in November.

None of the four who had opposition that cycle faced a serious threat, so the fact that they, like their unopposed colleagues, saw total turnout plummet doesn’t necessarily say something about turnout in 2010.

Still, Democratic strategists have to be worried about what effect the lack of a statewide contest will have on turnout. They certainly are aware of the problem, and they will be forced to pour additional resources into those districts to ensure that turnout in competitive Congressional districts doesn’t plunge.

None of this means that the endangered Democrats will lose. The two parties have very different views on the extent to which Adler is vulnerable, and the DCCC has the resources it will need to boost Democratic turnout in states where other races on the ballot could lull Democratic voters to sleep.

Still, with turnout a key factor, Democratic Party strategists will have to pay some additional attention to certain states, and New Jersey and Virginia will likely be on the list.

Stuart Rothenberg is editor of the Rothenberg Political Report.

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