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In California midterm election's tight races, voter turnout is key

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Turnout key for Democrats

In general, higher turnouts favor Democrats, who have a built-in advantage with 44.5 percent of registered California voters (compared with 30.8 percent who are registered Republicans and 20.2 percent who “decline to state”), but if their base doesn’t show on Election Day, that advantage is out the window.

Jessica Levinson, political reform director for the Center for Governmental Studies, says Democrats would be pleased if 60 percent of their base, and 55 percent of the electorate, turned out on Election Day, but her best estimate right now is for only a 41 percent overall turnout, well below the 59.2 percent that voted in 2008, a presidential election year.

“Both Republicans and Democrats are spending lots of money to get out the vote,” says Hal Dash, CEO of Cerrell & Associates, a Democratic strategy consulting firm. “Democratic constituencies usually are harder to motivate in non-presidential years,” he says.

Rob Stutzman, a senior campaign adviser for Republican Meg Whitman, who is running for governor, says Whitman staffers are mainly concerned with getting out the Republican vote.

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