Some national polls this election season have shown a sizeable enthusiasm gap. Democrats in many areas are less excited about voting than Republicans, and a high conservative turnout will likely push many GOP candidates to victory. But lately, some Democratic candidates have begun using the potential for Republican victory to rally the party faithful.
WFPL’s Gabe Bullard has more on voter excitement and frustration in the Third District Congressional Race:
There’s no lack of enthusiasm outside of the football game between Trinity and St. Xavier high schools in Louisville, which makes up all of Kentucky’s Third Congressional District. In the parking lot, Republican congressional candidate Todd Lally is trying to steer that excitement toward him.
“Don’t dilly dally, vote Todd Lally,” he says to one group.
This is Lally’s second bid for office. He’s running against incumbent Democrat John Yarmuth. Outside of the game, Lally plays one of his campaign ads on a computer. Mike Herp watches the video, which shows Yarmuth with some fellow Democrats.
“This is the same old BS you hear in Washington all the time,” says Herp. “We need to get rid of Yarmuth cause he’s a rubber stamp for the Pelosi-Reid agenda and elect Mr. Lally here to congress.”
Lally says his support comes largely from the energized conservative and independent voters in the Tea Party.
“It’s just people who are working hard, paying taxes,” he says. “They’re tired of their elected representation, uh, not listening to them. They’re tired of their taxes always on the verge of going up or going up and they want to hold these politicians accountable.”
“I am sure that there are Tea Party supporters in Jefferson County. And I’m sure there are organized Tea Party supporters in Jefferson County, but I’m not sure they will have the weight they will in other races, for example the Rand Paul/Jack Conway Senate campaign right now,” says University of Louisville political science professor Jasmine Farrier.
The high-profile Rand Paul/Jack Conway Senate race could increase turnout across the state and boost Republican candidates. But the Third is the only district in Kentucky that went for Obama in 2008. And Ferrier says the Senate race will have opposite effect for Republicans here.
“Democrats who are for Conway, who are, of course, disproportionately concentrated in Louisville, because that is his base, his home,” she says. “Democrats in Louisville will come out for Conway and therefore come out for Yarmuth.”
Polls have given Yarmuth a lead of anywhere from two to twenty-three points. And he doesn’t seem worried. He says it would take unprecedented Republican turnout to unseat him.
“I think it’s going to be broadly-based turnout and I don’t think Democrats will stay home,” says Yarmuth. “Jack’s race makes it certain Democrats don’t stay home, I think.”
But a Lally victory would bring back memories. In 2006, Yarmuth defeated incumbent Republican Anne Northup, who was criticized for her support of President George W. Bush. But Yarmuth says his support of legislation the President favors—such as the stimulus package—will help him in this election.
“I don’t you ever get penalized for bringing resources back to your district,” he says.
And Yarmuth has embraced the legislation. Since August, he’s appeared in the district several times to announce millions of dollars in federal grants.
Some national analysts predict Yarmuth will win the race handily. But the latest Bluegrass Poll shows a closer race. It gives the incumbent a four point lead over Lally…that’s within the margin of error.