As we inch ever closer to the most exciting midterm elections in recent memory, the Democratic Party is crossing their fingers and praying with all their might for something called a “blue wave.” Passionate Democrats across the country have annoyed their friends and family with stories of how Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is going to speak for everyday New Yorkers or how Randy Bryce can finally represent another vital facet of blue-collar America.
The upswell of support for the Democratic cause (or the upswell of anger over the presidency of ol’ whatshisface) is supposed to carry the Democrats to control of the House and Senate, and all will Disney cartoons and blue skies.
It’s not going to happen. Sorry.
Skipping on past the fact that all waves are blue — should it just be called, “the wave”? — there’s still a whole lot of ground to cover between now and early November when the time comes to hit the polls and cast a ballot. That’s a long time to keep people fired up about potentially swaying the delicate balance on a Capitol Hill most of us think is corrupt.
We’ll tune in for the big stuff, but most of us just want Washington to do their thing without bothering us too much. So, a lot of people don’t vote in midterm elections, because politics is boring and rooting for rich assholes is way more fun when they get to really hit each other like in football.
That’s not entirely true, of course — not the thing about rich assholes; politicians and pro athletes are both rich assholes. It’s not true that no one votes in midterms. When election day rolls around, there is one group of Americans that will mobilize en masse to make their mostly conservative opinion known.
Old people: the only Americans willing to take time off from retirement to get down to their voting center and do their civic duty.
Old People Vote All the Time, Every Time
In 2016, people over the age of 45 made up 55 percent of the total electorate. Now, obviously, 45 year olds aren’t old people, but I’m working with the numbers I’ve got. At any rate, the point is that people entering their golden years are more prone to vote Republican than they are Democrat. By a pretty significant margin, actually.
The geriatric contingent is even more prominent in midterm elections when everyone else fails to turn up. In fact, in 2014 voter turnout was the lowest in 70 years. The reason it was so low 70 years ago was that a bunch of voting adults was off fighting in a war.
The reason voter turnout was so low in 2014 was that E! ran a 12-hour marathon of Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
Elderly people make up one in five members of the Republican Party and on election day, they show up to play.
Old People Aren’t the Only GOP Secret Weapon
Even without the grey harvest, predictable as the tides in Egypt, the Republicans have made good use of their time in power, stacking the deck in their own favor by redrawing voter lines to minimize Democrat voting power.
A poll from the Brennan Center conducted in March of this year determined that partisan gerrymandering in big swing states favored the Republicans so heavily that Democrats “need to win the national popular vote in 2018 by the biggest margin in a midterm since 1982.”
While Democrats have been working to, you know, respond to the needs of the citizens (theoretically), Republicans have worked overtime to ensure that they don’t have their legislative duties bogged down with such trivial concerns.
Don’t Count on Old People Changing Their Minds
You might occasionally see uplifting articles with headlines that indicate the elderly are swinging more to the blue side of the aisle. That’s technically true, old people are getting more liberal. As the number of geriatrics with college degrees increases, for some reason, the number of elderly Democrats increase, as well. Wonder what the correlation is there?
As interesting as those fundamental shifts in the status quo are, they’re not going to happen between now and November. For the time being, the GOP can count on their grey horde to get the job done when voting counts. They’ll probably even vote early. Like, literally first thing in the morning. Don’t worry, though, the polls are open until after work.
Pull the Trigger on Citizenship
Hard truth time, Democrats. You’re lazy voters. Even President Obama said in 2014 (after the Democrats got the crap kicked out of them in the midterm elections), “In midterms, we get clobbered.”
That may not be in direct relation to voter turnout, but the fact that Democrats don’t vote in off-years probably doesn’t help very much. You can celebrate the small (primary) victories or rail on about how nasty and negative Donald Trump is all you want. It doesn’t count for anything more than hot air, however, if you’re not willing to take the time to cast a vote during the midterm elections.
All the righteous outrage in the world won’t beef up the very real numbers that Democrats need to win. If you really care about taking back Congress (or keeping things going the way they’re headed), make sure to get properly registered and get ready to do the citizenship thing.
Otherwise, the elderly people down the street will slowly creep their way toward victory, just like they do every time.