In his latest blog post, he writes about how Democrats have ignored the rural voters to their own detriment. He doesn't suggest that Democrats would win in rural Kansas with their lefty progressiveness, but he suggests Dems should at least make the effort to drive up voter turnout in those areas even knowing that they won't win. A few more rural voters on their side, and Dems have a smaller gap to cover when the city votes.
I often hear this one from Democratic members: well, we just need to run up our numbers in the cities and… let me stop you right there. Let me explain how this works out...
When Democrats don't bother campaigning in safe districts and big cities because victory is assured, he writes:
...Turnout in those “big cities” doesn't always jump. And what does this mean to rural votes? Well, let me give an example: A large county has about 80k eligible voters. Fantastic! It is a Democratic stronghold, reliably 60/40 Democratic. But only 54% of the voters turn out. So, let’s do the math: 80k*.54=43200 (rough) In a 60/40 split, you get 25,920 Democratic votes and 17,280 Republican votes.A blowout! Fantastic. Democratic voting is to the positive 8,640.
Now, let’s take a rural Republican county. There are only 13k eligible voters. I mean, so small, right? But their turnout is about 75%. So, 9,600 people vote. And they vote 77 to 18%..
The gap? 5,943.Reeves suggests that Republicans work tirelessly to turn out the vote in rural areas where they're assured victory. I think that's a laughable assessment. I think many rural conservatives believe that voting is a sacred right and show up whether they've received any mail or had a candidate on their doorsteps.
Suddenly, a rural county with a population that is a drop in the bucket in comparison to a large metro area has just swallowed up the lead a metro area provided in a statewide. Why? Because their turnout percentage is higher and their victory is far more lopsided.
Since Democrats--mercifully--never listen to that guy's advice, maybe Republicans should. He has a point about campaigning hard no matter how safe or difficult the district. Though Republicans certainly have great reasons to be happy with this year's election results overall, Kansas Republicans have a hefty load of work to do in the off season. It's disappointing that Republicans didn't have candidates in every race. Republicans have an enormous bench, and a whole lot of people just sat on it this cycle instead of lacing up their shoes and getting in the game.
The Kansas Dems, bless their hearts, drive candidates to Topeka and pay the filing fee for them on the filing deadline if it looks like there won't be a candidate in a particular seat. Some of those candidates lose every time in embarrassing ways, but having a placeholder who does a tiny bit of work in each district can make a difference up and down the ballot and it can sow seeds for the future.
This year, Republicans basically ceded all of Kansas City, Kansas, to the Dems. We didn't challenge David Haley, Pat Petty, or Oletha Faust Gouduea in the Senate. In the House, we didn't challenge Ruiz, Curtis, Borroughs, Winn, or Frownfelter. We forfeited huge swaths of Wichita and Topeka, and a Senate race in Manhattan. Many of these races may not have been winnable, but creating a toehold in a liberal strong hold takes time and effort. We didn't bother using the time or making an effort.
Most painfully, we ceded the 79th House district, which covers part of Cowley and Sumner counties, including Belle Plaine, Oxford, Winfield, and Udall in south-central Kansas. Trump/Pence beat the pants off of Clinton/Kaine in those counties. In Cowley, 8,270 voters selected Trump versus 3,551 who voted for Clinton. In Sumner, 6,827 people voted for Trump versus 2,080 for Clinton. Representative Ed Trimmer, an incumbent Winfield Democrat, earned 5,150 votes in Cowley county and 1,899 in Sumner.
I can't tell you anything about what is happening on the ground in those counties. Maybe Trimmer is so popular he'd be impossible to pick off. Maybe he spends the off season rescuing baby deer from hunters and giving away free puppies. But a limited look at the numbers in the 79th district suggest he's beatable, and Republicans didn't put up a candidate. (Hint: If you know a good Republican in the 79th, maybe you should encourage him or her to run for the Kansas House in 2018.)
I'm not suggesting that the Republican Party should spend buckets of money campaigning on lost causes, but can we make a goal of recruiting a candidate and loaning those campaigns an intern for a weekend once each cycle? If the goal isn't winning those seemingly impossible races like the ones in KCK but simply driving Republican turnout to a specific percent. For what it's worth, I don't consider KCK a lost cause for Republicans, but it's definitely the long game and not the short con.