I’ve wondered from time to time about what it might be like to live in one of those presidential “battleground states,” where candidates flood the local TV airwaves with ads and residents’ mailboxes with campaign circulars.
Living in Texas for the past nine presidential election cycles has inoculated my family from that kind of political browbeating. The presidential candidates haven’t fought for our votes.
Ahh, but then we get to 2017and little ol’ Amarillo has received a tiny smattering of what our battleground-state residents endure every four years.
Amarillo Matters has taken root in our city. It has generated a fair amount of interest in Saturday’s municipal election. Voters who haven’t cast their ballots early are going to show up at polling places to cast their votes for all five City Council seats.
Then the mini-deluge from Amarillo Matters will end.
My doorbell has rung three times during this campaign as Amarillo Matters volunteers have handed out circulars. My mailbox has contained campaign material almost daily for the past two weeks. Today, my wife and I returned from our daily walk through the ‘hood and listened to the tail end of an Amarillo Matters robo-call on our home phone.
I’m glad to see such activity in our city. Amarillo Matters has sought to generate some increased interest in our municipal election, and not just for the City Council. It’s been working as well on behalf of candidates for Amarillo College Board of Regents.
Amarillo Matters has kicked a lot of money into this campaign as well, reportedly spending a significant six-figure amount to back the slate of City Council candidates it has endorsed.
I haven’t heard a lot of grumbling about all this attention, although there’s likely been some muttering under people’s breath around the city. That goes with the territory.
But here comes a dose of bad news.
All this juice from a well-heeled, deep-pocketed political action committee isn’t likely to boost total voter turnout in Amarillo to anything remotely significant. Mayor Paul Harpole, who isn’t running for re-election, said on Panhandle PBS that he projects a turnout of 12,000 to 14,000 voters. Hmm. That’s slightly more than 10 percent of the city’s registered voters.
To be candid, I am far less concerned about whether Amarillo Matters’ slate of candidate wins on Saturday than I am about the dismal turnout we can expect when all the ballots are counted.
Ten-plus percent turnout doesn’t grant bragging rights to anyone.
Thus, Amarillo Matters’ infusion of interest in this campaign has a long way to go to declare victory.
Still, I now have a smidgen of an idea of what occurs in those presidential battleground states. If only it translated to more involvement at the polling place — where it really counts.