From the Back Forty is a weekly column focusing on the attitudes and opinions of folk in Flyover country.
Oh, it’s going to be a wave – regardless of who wins. The groundswell surging toward November 6 is toppling voter turnout records, as over 28 million Americans have already cast their vote.
Midterms tend to rank on the skimpy side in terms of voter turnout, compared to presidential election years. In 2016, 47 million votes were cast early – outpacing the 2014 midterms by about 20 million: business as usual in domestic political theater. But the 2018 cycle is battering the polls and gaining momentum as the days dwindle to what is sure to be a historic Election Day. And leading the way in getting the votes out are, unsurprisingly, folks in flyover states.
One might say, the people in the sticks are fired up.
Leaders of the Pack
The line up of states leading the charge in voter turnout are Indiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Montana, New Mexico, Tennessee, Texas, Kansas, Illinois, and West Virginia. In each of these jurisdictions, not only have early voting records of 2014 been smashed, but several indicate the early ballots will exceed the 2014 totals before election day even arrives.
Those are crazy numbers. Political science geeks and pollsters are losing their minds attempting to predict which way the electorate is leaning. Michael P. McDonald, an associate professor of political science at the University of Florida who tracks early voting, is one such perplexed scholar:
“We’re in uncharted territory with the size of this vote. In some states, it’s closer to the presidential election than to the 2014 midterm election.”
Indiana, where Republican Mike Braun is challenging incumbent Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN), is at the presidential election level already – and to say the race is competitive would be an understatement.
In Texas, with Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) locking horns with Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke, voters camped out in Houston, waiting for the chance to vote early. The Lone Star State has surpassed the total 2014 Midterm votes and is barreling toward 2016 numbers.
And our friends in the Land of Enchantment, New Mexico, have already cast over 322,000 ballots. That’s a pretty hefty number when you consider that the total number of registered voters in the state is 1,261,532.
The Trump Effect
The exhausted political pundits in advocacy media and Trump critics are quick to point to the president as the reason for such meteoric levels of enthusiasm by both Democrats and Republicans – and they are, for once, correct.
Yet there’s another trend they don’t like to talk about: Republicans are outnumbering Democrats among early voters in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Montana, Tennessee, and Texas. In the civil war between the left and the right, both sides are almost equally engaged. A recent Wall Street Journal poll found that “68% of Republican voters and 72% of Democrats” were “very interested” in the November 6 showdown.
“We’re in uncharted territory with the size of this vote.”
But the people of flyover states don’t need a talking head to tell them what is at stake this election season. Just as America witnessed two short years ago, the often-ignored people of flyover land speak their minds by exercising their civic duty every two years.
Yes, there is a tsunami headed for election day. Whether red or blue in color is anyone’s guess, but consider this: President Donald Trump’s approval rating just reached an all-time high of 47%, according to the Wall Street Journal poll.