The Impact of Apathy

An interesting article appeared today in the Reno Gazette Journal regarding voter turnout. According to the article, in 2008 there was a 59.9% voter turnout in the general election, the 10th worst state turnout in the country.  The 2008 primary turnout was even lower, with only 17.97% of registered voters casting a ballot.  I don’t know where that stands in terms of state rankings, but it sounds dismal.

In 2010, the results of several primary races will almost certainly decide the results of the general election.  In the Governor’s race for example, polling shows Rory Reid defeating Jim Gibbons in the general election, but losing to Brian Sandoval.  As a result, both Gibbons and Sandoval continue to tack to the right in an attempt to cater to primary voters.  The same phenomenon is occurring in several other races (and of course has always been the case in primary elections).  Taking extreme positions in order to survive a primary election can have consequences in the general election, when more moderates and independents head to the voting booths.

In terms of voter choice in the general, what this means is that the choices available to general election voters may not be much of a choice at all.  Although over half of voters may cast a vote in the general, their options have already been limited by votes cast by less than 1 out of every 5 voters.

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