Democratic turnout key to Republican headwinds

By Pat Grubb

The three state district 42 races for senator and representatives in the 2018 primary showed that the current Republican incumbents have a headwind against them in the upcoming general election in November. What accounts for this turn of affairs? Were Republican voters content to let their mail-in ballots sit on the kitchen counter or were Democrats more energized than usual this go-around?

Comparing countywide primary results in state representative races in 2016 versus 2018, there were 32,490 and 32,084 total votes cast in the seats held by Luanne Van Werven and Vincent Buys respectively in 2016. In 2018, there were 41,578 and 41,520 total countywide votes cast in the same races. Republican votes increased 9.4 percent for Van Werven (18,409 in 2018 vs. 16,834 in 2016) and 14 percent for Buys (19,808 in 2018 vs. 17,408 in 2016) so Republican apathy isn’t an issue, it seems.

The big news is Democratic turnout. Democratic votes in the Van Werven race in 2018 increased 61 percent countywide (21,101 in 2018 vs. 13,082 in 2016) and 99 percent in the Buys race (21,712 in 2018 vs. 10,867 in 2016).

While state senator Doug Ericksen wasn’t up for election in 2016, results from the 2018 primary show he too has a tough horse race ahead of him. He received 19,147 votes in this primary while his two Democratic challengers combined had 22,620 votes, 3,473 more than him. Ericksen is going to need some fancy silver spurs come November.

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