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Opinion | Looking forward at 2024 election: Voter apathy

Americans are not too enthused to see this replay.

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This is a presidential election year. Our GOP Presidential Primary is our election in the Heart of Dixie. We are a one party state, especially in presidential races. Alabama is one of a group of states that will hold its Primary early, March 5th to be exact.  Therefore, we will be going to the polls in less than two months to vote for President.

The presidential contest will more than likely be a rematch between Democratic sitting President Joe Biden and Republican former President Donald Trump. Americans are not too enthused to see this replay.  I have never seen such a weird presidential matchup or unusual scenario in my lifetime.

The old political truism, “more people vote against someone than for someone,” will definitely come into play in this presidential race.  More people would rather vote for anyone than Trump or Biden.  I have never seen two candidates for president with this high negative polling numbers.  Indeed, if Republicans were to nominate anyone besides Trump, they would beat Biden. By the same token, if the Democrats were to nominate anyone besides Biden, they would beat Trump.  If indeed Biden and Trump are the nominees, you will see a low voter turnout come November.

As I remind you every four years, we do not elect our president by direct vote. You vote for electors that go to an Electoral College and cast their votes.  Under the “winner take all” Electoral College System, if a candidate wins a state by one vote, they get all of that states electoral votes.  We have become such a polarized partisan electorate there are less than 10 of our 50 states that matter in a presidential contest. The race for president will be determined in Arizona, Nevada, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, and Georgia.  The few truly independent voters left in these pivotal swing states will decide the presidency.  Both parties will concentrate their efforts and resources in these states.

The straight party lockstep voting mentality of American voters has become so entrenched that in at least 40 states the race for president has been predetermined.  As I have often said, “If Mickey Mouse were the Republican nominee, he would carry Alabama.  By the same token, if Donald Duck were the Democratic nominee, he would carry California.”  It will be fun to watch.

We do not have many good races to watch in Alabama.  We have four seats on our State Supreme Court up for election this year.  However, popular Republican Justices Will Sellers, Jay Mitchell and Tommy Bryan are all running unopposed and will be back for six more years.  Justice Sarah Stewart is opting to run for Chief Justice, leaving her seat open.  It will be filled by Republican Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Chris McCool, who like Sellers, Mitchell and Bryan garnered no opponent, Democrat or Republican.

The Chief Justice Race is the only contested Supreme Court Seat.  Justice Sarah Stewart has two opponents, Bryan Taylor and Jerry Michael Blevins.

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The Democrats have fielded a candidate in the Chief Justice Race.  Montgomery Circuit Judge Greg Griffin will be on the ballot. However, winning a statewide race in the Heart of Dixie as a Democrat is difficult to say the least and not only improbable, but maybe impossible.  There are 29 elected statewide positions in Alabama, all 29 are held by a Republican.  

There are two Republican Assistant Attorney Generals, Thomas Govan and Rich Anderson, running for Chris McCool’s seat on the Court of Criminal Appeals.  Both are well qualified for this appellate post.

Under the federal court’s decision to realign our Congressional District lines to try to create a new minority Democratic district in the state, all of our powerful incumbent Congressmen have altered districts.  However, our veteran seniority member’s districts have probably been enhanced to their benefit.

Republican Congressmen Robert Aderholt, Mike Rogers, and freshman Republican Dale Strong have no or token opposition. Democratic Congresswoman Terri Sewell is also getting a free ride.

This is not the case in the newly drawn first district. Two incumbent Republican Congressmen, Jerry Carl (Mobile/Baldwin) and Wiregrass Republican Barry Moore were placed into the same district and will be pitted against each other in a March 5th primary contest that will be decided that day as it is a super Republican district.

By far the biggest race in Alabama this year will be for the newly drawn open second congressional district in Montgomery to Mobile.  We will discuss that race next week.

See you next week.

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Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.

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