Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
dwalters@sacbee.com
Published: Monday, Jun. 23, 2014 – 12:00 am

Although election officials are still counting votes from the June 3 primary election – and a few contests are still in doubt – the lukewarm tenor of the Nov. 4 general election is evident, and that could be bad news for California’s dominant Democrats.

The record-low voter turnout in the primary – about 25 percent of registered voters – is very likely to be reflected in November for many of the same reasons.

The outcome of the top-of-the-ticket contest between Gov. Jerry Brown and Republican challenger Neel Kashkari is virtually certain months in advance, there’s no U.S. Senate contest, and there will be no barnburner ballot measures to motivate occasional voters.

The most heavily contested races will be at the legislative or congressional levels, but only a handful – scarcely a dozen – of the 153 districts involved are truly competitive.

Given this year’s lackluster dynamics, the steady erosion of voter turnout that California has been experiencing, and the pattern of past non-presidential, non-senatorial elections in the state, we could see a record-low general election turnout.

Four years ago, with high-octane duels between Brown and Republican rival Meg Whitman for governor and Sen. Barbara Boxer and Republican Carly Fiorina, voter turnout was 59.59 percent of registered voters.

It followed a well-established pattern of higher turnout when both the governorship and a Senate seat are at stake and lower when there’s no Senate contest.

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