A Good Night for the Grassroots in Arkansas State Government
One of last night's winners was not even on the ballot.
The first thing I think ought to be mentioned is that the results (available here) came faster and smoother from the state than we have ever seen them before. UPDATE: This was in spite of the fact that "The Drudge Report" linked to the site, something that would crash or slow up many servers. I believe you have to credit Secretary of State Mark Martin and the County Clerks and election workers for doing an outstanding job of conducting that election. For the first time I can remember, the Secretary of State Website had the results out faster than the news media's websites. Instead of following the results on the KARK web site, or that of some other media, I followed them straight from the SOS site. The county sites I was interested in also seemed faster.
Voter turnout was quite low at 22%, and there were less than 11,000 votes difference (around 7% difference) statewide between the Democrat primary and the Republican Primary. I can remember when Democrat primary voters outnumbered Republican primary voters five to one (a 500% difference). Arkansas is a two-party state as a whole, but as I will discuss in a minute, locally it is really a one-party state and the identity of the party changes depending on the region. Very few areas are really two-party in November.
Is low voter turnout for primaries a problem? I think it is in the long run because it reduces the legitimacy of the outcomes. On the other hand, I don't want to pester uninformed people to show up at the polls. If they don't bother to inform themselves, maybe it is better to leave the decision on who should run things to those citizens who care enough to get informed. So low turnout is not the worst possible outcome, but its not the best either. A healthy political system would have high voter turnout when elections were really decided. Over most of the state, they are decided in the primary and turnout is low and getting lower.
At this rate, primary voting will soon consist largely of three groups 1) the insiders and special interest voters 2) Activists and 3) friends and family of candidates. As long as this trend continues, we need to recruit a few more activists, who need to recruit a few more candidates. Last night, in state races, the activists won almost all of them, so that's good. Where the Arkansas Watch list of Top-Ten and Bottom Ten List of state legislators were in races, the good guys mostly won and the bad guys had trouble. Arktimes did not like it.
Analysis continued on the jump.....