Candidates not making effective contact



Ted Escobar

Once again, elections in Yakima County drew well under 50 percent participation. It was more like 30 percent.

Most people still refer to it as voter turnout. That’s what it was when we had to go to a booth and vote.

Turnout was much higher in those years than participation is now, well over 50 percent in some years.

Concerned about low turnout then, politicians in Olympia forced this state to vote by mail. Participation went down. This year they decided to pay the postage for the voters because, for the unfair lack of a stamp, people weren’t voting. That didn’t change things much.

There may be a message to the politicians in all of this. Quit trying to guess what the voters need or want.

Fifty years ago, there was excitement as election time neared. Voters watched the calendar to make sure they didn’t miss election day.

Election day was exciting. You had just that one day to vote. You got there on time or you were out. While you didn’t know for whom your neighbors voted, you visited in the voting lines. For some people it was as much a social event as a civic duty.

No matter how we got here, our elections are what they are, which, oddly enough, gives every candidate a shot to win in November. That’s if that candidate can figure out a winning formula and execute it.

The most surprising, if not most impressive result of the primaries was Republican Jeremie Dufault knocking out incumbent David Taylor, a Republican, in the 15th District House seat No. 2 race. Whatever his formula was, he moved people who voted for Taylor before in a dramatic way.

Dufault had a campaign team, but he left nothing to chance. He visited every home he could and delivered his message himself.

For many voters, that is the key. When the actual candidate stops at their home they listen and remember. When they sit down to fill out their ballot, they recall, “Well, this is the one who asked for my vote.”

According to the elections office in Yakima, there will be about 58,000 registered voters for 15th District races in November. There will be about 115,000 for county races, such as the contest for county sheriff.

That means that second-place finishers in the primaries have a lot of voters they can move. Democrats Benjie Aguilar (Senate), A.J. Cooper (House) and Jack McEntire (House) have about 40,000 voters who weren’t moved for the primaries. Republican Nolan Wentz (sheriff) has about 80,000 voters who weren’t moved for the primaries.

Whatever formula you choose for your campaign, consider this: If they see you speaking, they can trust those are your words. They can’t have the same level of trust if your door-knocker is doing the speaking.

Ted Escobar is the managing editor of the Daily Sun News.


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Memphremagog 5 months ago

Hi Ted,

I'll respectfully disagree. Turnout has been falling nationally for many years. But Washington's move to 100% mailed-out ballots has dampened that drop considerably. In the 2016 Presidential election, WA's 79% turnout was among the top in the country, and about 7% points higher than the national average.

So far, in the 2018 primary cycle, WA state saw a turnout of about 41%, against the national mean of 25%. In fact, WA currently stands second only to Oklahoma (which had medical marijuana on the ballot) in turnout this year. (see: for the full state breakdown)

There is much more on the website to buttress the argument that people with a ballot in their hands vote, and do so much more actively than those who have to schlep to the polls. The best recent data was from Utah, where researchers compared the 21 counties who had 100% mailed-out ballots in 2016 to the remaining 8 still using polling places. The "Vote at Home" counties saw 5%-7% higher turnout, with a 10% lift for millennials.

We can all pine for the Norman Rockwell days, visiting with our neighbors at the polling place with the kindly poll workers watching over. But, the data shows the way to get people to vote is to make the polling place come to them - by sending everyone a ballot.


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