North Dakota Democrats Continue to See Weak Turnout for Their District Conventions

More than 200 attended the Districts 11, 13, 16, 21, 22, 27, 41, 44, 45 and 46 Democratic Convention at Carl Ben Eielson Middle School on Feb. 3. John Hageman / Forum News Service

“High turnout for Democratic convention in Fargo,” reads the headline over a weekend article by Wendy Reuer.

Unfortunately, the headline is inaccurate. Little more than a regurgitation of talking points put out by the political activists on hand.

“At least 200 voters attended the convention,” Reuer writes, and while that’s not a bad crowd, it’s pretty underwhelming considering that this convention was intended to cover no fewer than 10 legislative districts. We’re talking about an average of maybe 20 people per legislative district? Including candidates?

If we remove the candidates, and the various party staff and organizers, we’re talking about less than 20 people on average for those 10 districts. That’s not good.

Assuming Democrats filled all of the legislative races in the seven odd numbered districts that are up this year – they didn’t at the recent convention for Grand Forks area districts – there should have been at least 24 candidates in the crowd. Meaning a big chunk of that crowd were the candidates themselves, and various party operatives, which in turn means the buy-in from the general public for (again, 10 legislative districts with 7 of them on the ballot this year) was even smaller than it might seem.

If we remove the candidates, and the various party staff and organizers, we’re talking about less than 20 people on average for those 10 districts.

That’s not good. All the more so when you consider that Fargo is our state’s largest community and one of the few areas where Democrats have had some electoral success in legislative races.

But don’t take my word for it. At the recent Grand Forks district conventions Democrats drew a crowd of about 100 people. For just three legislative districts. And that wasn’t a particularly strong turnout.

Democrats pulling around 200 people – even if we charitably count candidates and party organizers – for 10 Fargo-area legislative districts is not good. Add in the disappointing turnout for the Grand Forks area districts and you’re talking about 300 total people for 13 legislative districts in two of the state’s largest communities.

A stark reminder for the state’s Democrats that, as much as they want to think that President Donald Trump and national politics has fired up their progressive base, it appears so far as though it hasn’t.

The Forum article doesn’t tell us how many of those Fargo-area legislative races the convention nominated candidates for. In Grand Forks Democrats ended their convention with four legislative races unfilled.

UPDATE: This post was written as though all 10 of the Fargo districts were on the ballot this year. That was my mistake. Only the 7 odd numbered districts are.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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