Primary season ahead of the 2018 midterm elections is winding down, with only a handful of state primaries left at this point ahead of the general election. Former President Barack Obama is conscious of the situation and will soon be hitting the campaign trail, with his party aiming to take control of the U.S. House, hold onto their portion of the U.S. Senate if not take control of that body as well, and grow their control of state and local governments across the country.
A speech in Illinois — where he jumpstarted his political career — this Friday will kick off the efforts. He will be speaking at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in part about the importance of getting out to vote.
His communications director Katie Hill explained:
He will echo his call to reject the rising strain of authoritarian politics and policies. And he will preview arguments he’ll make this fall, specifically that Americans must not fall victim to our own apathy by refusing to do the most fundamental thing demanded of us as citizens: vote.’
Democratic failure to turnout to the polls was a significant driver of Hillary Clinton’s defeat in the 2016 presidential election, at least to some. In states whose vote totals ended up crucial to Trump’s victory, she finished with significantly less votes than Barack Obama had in 2012, while Trump maintained a level of support that was fairly comparable with past Republican turnout.
In Wisconsin, for instance — which did, to be sure, struggle under the weight of an oppressive voter ID law in 2016 while facing low turnout — Trump finished with about the same number of votes that Mitt Romney had in 2012. Clinton, though, garnered the support of some 230,000 fewer voters than Obama did in 2012.
There are signs that the low voter turnout trend is turning around. In the recently held Florida Democratic primaries, huge numbers of voters turned out, more than had in decades. There was a 75 percent increase in turnout over 2014 — and the change showed some results, too. The favored gubernatorial frontrunner with the political pedigree Gwen Graham lost to the upstart progressive, Bernie Sanders-backed Andrew Gillum.
There’s still work to be done, though. The midterms aren’t over yet.
In coming weeks, following his speech at the University of Illinois, Barack Obama will reportedly campaign in California, Illinois, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
He has released an initial round of endorsements ahead of the general election that hardly includes everyone he could throw his support behind, a move that might at least in part be strategic. He wouldn’t want to drag down already vulnerable Democrats running in states Trump won by large margins with his name association.
Some Democratic candidates he hasn’t endorsed yet, though, look forward to Obama possibly standing with them.
Ohio’s incumbent U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown explained:
‘I’d love for him to come to Ohio and help us with voter turnout for [gubernatorial candidate Richard] Cordray and for me.’
Fellow Democrat and incumbent Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Bob Casey also welcomed any help from Obama, commenting:
‘We look forward to campaigning with him, we hope, in the fall. I hope to. I don’t know what the schedule will be.’
One thing’s for sure — Trump can’t escape the currently unfolding outpouring of Democratic support ahead of the midterm elections.