It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the fastest growing segment of registered voters is the “no party preference” voter. The conservative cabal of the religious right, conservative media and obscenely wealthy benefactors following the 2008 national election launched an unrelenting attack on President Barack Obama and government.
The constant bashing by these factions led to a change in direction in the U.S. House of Representatives, and many voters are now “turned off” by political parties.
Over the last 10 or so years, Nevada County has changed in one unusual way in its population and voter registration. In Nevada County in 2004, there were 72,742 eligible voters and 65,411 registered voters. Of that number 20,906 were Democrats, 28,625 were Republicans, 11,619 were Decline-to-State and the remainder Libertarians, American Independent, Greens and others.
By October of 2008, there were 74,577 eligible voters, 63,769 registered voters, 20,342 Democrats, 27,138 Republicans and 11,599 Decline-to-State, with the remainder being others.
By 2012, there were 76,246 eligible voters, 60,590 registered voters, 20,064 Democrats, 23,896 Republicans, 12,712 Decline-to-State and the remaining were others.
Between 2004 and 2014, the voting eligible population increased by 3,504. However, registered voters decreased by 3,179. That’s a swing of about 6,000 potential voters. Democratic voter registration stayed virtually the same, as did Decline-to-State, but Republican registrations decreased by 3,242. Conclusion: Republicans are fading away.
In 2010, the liberal cabal of progressive organizations, liberal media and millions of regular Americans began to make modest financial donations to national and local candidates and causes. Regular people are still registering to vote, but the negativity directed at government took and continues to take its toll. The downward spiral in popularity of Congress coincided with the election of 2010. Nevada County trends continued as they had begun in 2004.
President Obama’s re-election in 2012 offers a glimmer of hope that our country has finally moved beyond the negative attitude many regular people have regarding the actual role and necessity of a functioning government. Unfortunately, Congress is still stuck in its nonfunctioning posture. Our responsibility as citizens and voters is to create a functional Congress.
Nevada County is continuing its trend; in 2013, there were 76,004 eligible voters, 61,567 registered voters, 20,298 Democrats, 23,315 Republicans, 13,449 Decline-to-State, and the remainder were other voters. A vote for Congressional Candidate Heidi Hall in Region 1 (including Nevada County) in the June 2014 Primary and November 2014 general elections will bring Nevada County into the mainstream of California and American politics.
But, this is just the beginning. Historically, midterm (nonpresidential year) elections have a lower voter turnout (above 55 percent) than presidential year elections (above 75 percent) in our area. In 2010, the midterm election with its typical lower voter turnout helped cause the gridlock and dysfunction in Washington, D.C. So, the 2014 midterm election needs to reach an above 75 percent turnout. Plus, voters must vote a complete ballot.
In addition to a regional contest for U.S. Congress, there are statewide candidates and local supervisor, judge, district attorney and Nevada City Council contests with multiple candidates. In 2008 and 2012, Americans elected and re-elected President Obama. But he is just one person — and one person cannot solve the myriad of challenges facing our country or our county.
As a voter, I promote and choose leaders who reflect my values and vision. I do this at every level, from U.S. president to the local school board. I might not agree with every position these people take on every issue of importance to me, but my choice of a politician is not based solely on his or her position on gun safety, or environmental regulation, or a women’s right to choose, or foreign trade or any number of “hot button” issues.
I often disagree with my liberal and conservative friends or family on one issue or another. But on balance, I will always choose a person who will move our country, state, region or city forward, rather than backward. I am not a single-issue voter.
A lot of blood has been shed throughout American history so that we have the right and privilege to vote. Many people sacrificed and worked tirelessly so that women, minorities and adults younger than 21 could cast ballots. Soldiers and civil rights workers died fighting for our right to vote. We owe it to them to exercise our civic responsibility.
My vote is my voice.
Jim Firth lives in Grass Valley.
Regular people are still registering to vote, but the negativity directed at government took and continues to take its toll.