“Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”
– Yogi Berra, Hall of Fame catcher and king of the malapropism
Your local polling station is one place that won’t be too crowded come Election Day. And chances are many, perhaps most, of us who stop by will be old enough to have watched Yogi Berra play ball. Ditto for those who drop their ballots in the mail.
The candidates know it. Some of them count on it. When he visited with our editorial board a few weeks ago, supervisorial candidate Ernie Carpenter said, “We’ve done our research. We know who’s going to vote, and we’re talking to them.” According to Carpenter, 80 percent of regular primary voters are over 50. He thinks that gives him an edge against his 31-year-old opponent, Efren Carrillo.
Norman Solomon also knows that most primary voters don’t come from Carrillo’s generation. The west Marin congressional candidate just posted a video ad/endorsement from actor Mike Farrell, a veteran Hollywood peace activist. (You can see the video here.) Farrell is best known for playing Capt. B.J. Honeycutt in the TV series M*A*S*H, which went off the air when Hollywood hawk Ronald Reagan was president and Carrillo was in diapers. Farrell, like Yogi Berra, may be ancient history for the Internet generation but not necessarily for voters in the June 5 primary.
Besides who is going to vote, candidates are focused on how many people will vote. In the general election four years ago, turnout in Sonoma County was 93.4 percent. For the 11 primaries since 1990, the average turnout is 52.2 percent. But that figure is skewed by turnouts of 64 percent and 65 percent in 2000 and 2004, when presidential primaries were held in March in a bid to wield greater influence over the nominations. Excluding those two elections, the average turnout is 49.7 percent for presidential primaries and 49.5 percent for non-presidential primaries.
This year’s election is a presidential primary in name only – Barack Obama is the only candidate on the Democratic ballot, and Mitt Romney already wrapped up the Republican nomination. Of course, the Green Party has a three-way primary featuring yet another name from Hollywood past, Roseanne Barr. I’ll spare you a video link to what Time magazine described as “quite possibly the worst rendition of ‘The Star-spangled Banner’ ever,” performed by Roseanne at a San Diego Padres game in 1990. That’s a case of déjà vu that no one wants all over again.
– Jim Sweeney