Poll after poll has shown Republicans with a clear lead for the House and a fighting chance of taking the Senate. Democrats are struggling to remain in control, and they may have one last trick up their sleeve to help them secure a victory.
Split-ticket voting, especially in midterm elections where multiple offices are up for election, is a way for a party to “divide and conquer.” The literal definition of split-ticket voting is voting for candidates of more than one party, which sounds quite common and mundane, but in this coming election, could change the tide for Democrats.
Split-ticket voting was used in the 2016 presidential election when voters were casting votes for both the presidential candidates and a candidate for the House of Representatives in their voting district.
In this situation, split-ticket voting would have looked like a voter casting their ballot for Republican Donald Trump for the presidency while simultaneously casting a vote for a Democrat to be their representative.
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Why Split-Ticket Voting Is Done
The question that has been evading analysts for decades is why a voter would vote for one party to be in the White House and another to control Congress. When the government is divided in such a way, it interferes with lawmakers’ ability to pass important legislation, especially if the legislation is considered to be partisan.
According to Wikipedia, one reason why people might split their ticket is they might prefer candidate A, but they don’t think they’ll have a shot at winning, so they vote for candidate B, who is in a different party, because they are a better option than candidates C, D, and E.
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How Will It Affect This Election?
In this year’s election, there are many instances where the Democratic candidate for the Senate is outperforming the candidate for governor or vice versa. In most of the battleground states, like Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, the Democratic candidate for Senate is outperforming the candidate for governor.
Split-ticket voting may not be able to help Mark Kelly in Arizona, Raphael Warnock in Georgia, Catherine Cortez-Masto in Nevada, or John Fetterman in Pennsylvania. These candidates are locked in close battles with their GOP counterparts, and no one will likely be able to predict the outcome.
With increased nationalization and polarization among the parties, split-ticket voting has been on the decline. However, they can still be decisive in key races.
In this election, it seems that Trump-aligned Republicans and most Democrats will vote along their party lines but that the split votes may come from traditional Republicans. In Pennsylvania, for example, 79% support Mehmet Oz for the Senate, but only 60% back their gubernatorial candidate, Doug Mastriano. Almost a third of traditional Republicans have actually thrown their support behind Democratic candidate Josh Shapiro.
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