Achorn: GOP Lost to Dems Get Out The (Straight-Party) Vote Effort
Edward Achorn backs up what many have already concluded: the Democrat margins of victory were attributable to straight-party (mostly Harrah’s “inspired”) voters:
On Nov. 7, the straight-party system worked its wonders for Rhode Island Democrats. Some 61,357 voters cast a straight-party ballot for the Democrats — a whopping increase of more than 23,000, or about two-thirds, over the last midterm election. Only 18,424 cast straight ballots for Republicans.
That obviously gave Mr. Whitehouse a dramatic boost, and quite possibly the winning edge. Subtract the straight-party ballots, and Mr. Chafee beat Mr. Whitehouse handily. It appears that Mr. Chafee was the preference of voters who actually took the time to mark their ballots for either candidate….
The people who really suffered, though, were down the ballot — the reformers trying to bring more balance to the General Assembly. They got swept away in the flood. Many of the casual voters who went straight-ticket — and thus returned the local incumbent to power — probably never heard of either candidate in those races.