Why Off-Year Elections Are Important Too

Tomorrow is our infamous “off year election,” where local elections are in focus and the president watches returns to see whether he finishes his term with a friendly Congress or an opposition in control.

Voter turnout is always lower when The Big Prize is not on the ballot. That’s a huge opportunity for the party faithful to try and swing the election with fewer voters to convince. Historically, the party which doesn’t occupy the Oval Office will gain seats in the House and Senate. That’s one reason the race for our Senate seat from North Carolina, which involves a first-term U.S. senator being challenged by a state senator, has become the most expensive senate campaign in history.


RRM Off Year Elections

But besides that, our district’s ballot includes elections for a congressman, state senator and state representative, the county sheriff and district attorney, three commissioners, and a bevy of judges and local officials.

Why should we be concerned about all these local and state elections? Because the candidates vying for national office usually started with something much smaller:

  • Andrew Jackson started as a district judge in Tennessee
  • Grover Cleveland was the sheriff of Erie County, New York
  • Calvin Coolidge was mayor of Northampton, Massachusetts
  • Harry S Truman was first elected as a county court judge in Missouri

Some started in state offices…

  • George Washington and Thomas Jefferson first served in the Virginia House of Burgesses.
  • Abraham Lincoln started in the Illinois state house and Barack Obama, in the state senate.
  • Theodore Roosevelt was first elected as a New York state assemblyman, and Franklin Roosevelt, in the state senate.
  • Bill Clinton was Arkansas’ attorney general
  • A total of seventeen presidents, including Clinton, Reagan, George W. Bush, both Roosevelts, and Thomas Jefferson, served as governor of their state

In fact, only three presidents had never held elected office before – Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, and Dwight D. Eisenhower (all three retired generals). (There is an interesting list here.)

Think seriously about the choices you make “down the ballot.” Those offices are important today, and those races will shape the choices your children have for President or Congress down the road. You might look at your county council or district attorney’s race and decide, “No national prospects there!” –and statistically speaking, you’re probably right—but remember those are the kind of men and women who end up on candidate search committees, platform committees, and nomination votes. Those people may not appear on the ballot later–instead, they may have a hand in who does appear.

All races are important–don’t ignore them. Please, go vote.

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Tonight on our podcast, Making Biblical Family Life Practical, we’ll be talking about how to teach your children about government and liberty! Listen live at 9pm Eastern or download from the archives later…