In Virginia, Will Turnout Be Up or Down?

With polls closing in an hour in Virginia, Republicans are expected to do well because Democrats weren't motivated, right? Or is it that Republicans ...
by | November 3, 2009
 

With polls closing in an hour in Virginia, Republicans are expected to do well because Democrats weren't motivated, right? Or is it that Republicans are expected to do well because they (upset with the priorities of Congress and Obama administration) were REALLY motivated? Or both?

Throughout this election season, I've described Virginia Democrats as having a motivation problem, but, truth be told, there are as many signs that Republicans are unusually motivated as there are that Democrats are unusually depressed. In a year where polls indicated that the result of the governor's race wasn't in doubt, if turnout actually goes up (compared to the 2005 governor's race) that will be pretty clear sign that Republicans are more engaged than unusual.

One other thing I'm watching in Virginia: How many people will vote absentee? Virginia had a remarkable increase in absentee voting last year. More than 500,000 people voted absentee, more than double the number from the 2004 presidential election.

Was that because the presidential campaigns pushed their supporters to vote as early as possible or are Virginia voters really changing their habits? Virginia isn't a state that encourages absentee voting -- voters have to have an excuse to do it. If absentee voting remains widespread in spite of that limitation, it will be another clear indication that voters around the country are moving away from voting on Election Day.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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