New research shows just how bad Democrats can be at voting down-ballot.
Analysis from the Sister District Project on ten battleground state legislatures reveals that Democrats are much more likely than Republicans to vote for their candidates at the top of the ticket, and then neglect to vote for down-ballot races. In contested races, Democrats failed to vote down-ballot 79.41 percent of the time, while Republicans only failed to vote 37.25 percent of the time.
Researcher Gaby Goldstein is especially worried about what this could mean in swing states like Nevada, where Democrats might be too comfortable.
“Nevada could be this year’s Virginia if Democrats don’t pay attention,” Goldstein said, referring to the Republican gubernatorial victory last year.
Nevada’s state Senate is divided with 12 Democrats and nine Republicans; its Assembly divided 26 Democrats to 16 Republicans. Democratic incumbent Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto is in a dead heat with Republican challenger Adam Laxalt, while incumbent Governor Steve Sisolak is similarly neck-and-neck with Republican Joe Lombardo.
Goldstein fears that Republicans’ strong performances at the top of the ticket, like the Senate race, will carry all the way down to the state legislature.
Wisconsin is another state to keep a close eye on, as state legislators have already blocked the Democratic governor’s efforts to expand early voting, adjust public benefit programs, and guarantee the right to an abortion.
“We are in a moment of ascendancy, where states are growing in power,” Goldstein said, describing it as a consequence of strategic power-building on the right. “We desperately need a compelling and intellectually-consistent project around the idea of progressive federalism—and the need to build state power, not just as a reaction to the terrible activities of Republicans in our states, but as an important project in and of itself.”