End of ticket-splitting? Perish the thought

Mary Landrieu’s loss of her U.S. Senate seat in Louisiana might be the least surprising part of the 2014 mid-term election.

She was the last statewide Democratic officeholder in Dixie.

What does surprise me — and unpleasantly so, I should add — is that according to one veteran political observer, the ’14 mid-terms have ushered in the end of ticket-splitting.


More and more Americans are voting for the party rather than the candidate.

Stuart Rothenberg, writing for Roll Call, says voters are just hitting the straight-ticket spot on their ballot and that voting for individual candidates’ is becoming a rare occurrence.

What a shame.

Rothenberg attributes this to the growing ideological divide between Democrats and Republicans. The parties have become branded as standing for certain things and voters aren’t wasting their time studying candidates’ stands on key issues of the day.

Democrats are being identified as the party of liberals such as Sens. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Al Franken of Minnesota and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. The Republican brand includes the likes of Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas, two favorites of the TEA party movement within the GOP.

The casualty, therefore, becomes the practice of examining what the candidates say about issues, relying instead on the party’s message.

I would prefer we did away with the straight-ticket voting option. If someone wants to vote straight Republican or straight Democratic, then make them go through the ballot race by race, candidate by candidate and make them think — if only for an instant — about the candidate they’re about to endorse.

Why can’t we require voters to at least go through the motions of thinking about their vote?