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Why Democratic Candidates Haven’t Been Able to Energize Voters



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After the debacle of the Iowa caucuses, the old quip attributed to Will Rogers seems just right: “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.”
Actually, that broad Democratic coalition encompassing Southern segregationists, working-class union members and Northern liberals used to be one of the party’s electoral strengths. Today’s coalition is much less ideologically diverse, but the central challenge remains to bring it together — and energize voters.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., with his wife Jane O’Meara Sanders, speaks to supporters at a caucus night campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa, Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The most worrying news out of Iowa for Democrats is that the voter turnout appears to have been far below that of 2008, when Barack Obama brought people out in record numbers. The 2020 turnout so far looks a lot like 2016 — not a year to emulate. Many Democrats have pinned their hopes on opposition to President Trump to galvanize the party. Iowa suggests that negative energy is not enough. (Republican turnout, by contrast, broke previous records for an incumbent, according to the Iowa GOP.)
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