No More Excuses! Why Democrats Need to Vote in 3/20/2018 Primary


Why Democrats need to vote in the March 20 2018 Primary

By Chris Johnson

         It’s widely believed that Republicans turn out in higher numbers for primaries than Democrats, especially in midterm years like 2018.  And here in DuPage County, many Democrats have felt that voting in primaries was an exercise in futility, because so few races offered any choices for us – in many cases, no Democratic candidates at all.  Well, whether or not those things have been true in the past, we’ve reached a new day and a new year, and the Illinois primary election on March 20, 2018 is crucially important for Democrats.

1.   We have a wealth of candidates!  In 2014, the last midterm election year, a total of 30 Democrats appeared on primary ballots in DuPage County for state, county and U.S. Congressional offices that are also being contested in 2018.  This year (drum roll, please) we have 81 Democratic candidates or slates running for those same offices!  In 11 races where there was not a single Democratic name on the ballot, we now have 19 Democrats, plus 4 Democrats running for two circuit court judicial vacancies.  And the increases aren’t just in the highly-publicized U.S. Congressional District races, but across the board:  17 candidates for state executive offices, compared to 6 in 2014; 15 candidates for state representative, compared to 8 last time; and a whopping 17 candidates for County Board, compared to just 4 in 2014.           

2.   While voter turnout in the primary is not a good predictor of turnout in the general election, do you know what is?  Competitiveness!  Elections with the most competitive races draw the most voters.  The number of Democrats on the primary ballot this year gives us a real opportunity to choose strong candidates who will be truly competitive in November and will draw even more Democrats to the polls.  Do your research (the DGTDO website,, has links to websites for most candidates, with more to come) and be a part of picking the strongest candidates for the Blue Wave of 2018.    

3.   Research suggests that a motivated, enthusiastic party base wins general elections.  A 2014 study of electoral behavior suggested that party enthusiasm can make a difference of several percentage points in voter turnout, and more than that in highly competitive races.  Enthusiasm within the party is very possibly even more important than persuasion of swing voters.  Remember 2010?  So, who is that party base?  I think we all know the answer – it is us!  And the first hard, incontrovertible evidence of that motivation and enthusiasm will be a big turnout in the primary.

The bottom line, of course, is that we can’t win unless we vote Democratic, and motivate those around us to do the same.  March 20 will be our first major electoral opportunity since November 2016 to act on our beliefs.  Let’s do everything we can to get out the primary vote, build enthusiasm, and choose the strongest candidates, who will run the best, most competitive races in the Blue Wave that is coming in November!