There’s no definitive way to measure that, of course, but I think there’s a good proxy: look at the number of comments in the Washington Post for articles dealing with: a) the Virginia 2015 General Assembly elections, which I’d remind everyone are just 42 days away; and b) the 2016 presidential elections, which are significantly further away. For instance:
*With Virginia Senate up for grabs, a mad dash for cash in key contests was posted Monday at 4:15 pm, now has a grand total of 1 (one) comment; Scott Walker, an early contender, makes surprise exit from 2016 race was posted at 7:35 pm Monday, now has 552 comments. That’s a more than 500:1 ratio in comments on the 2016 presidential story vs. the Virginia 2015 State Senate story. Hmmm.
*Defending one of rural Virginia’s last bits of blue – article about the crucial Virginia State Senate race for the seat held by John Edwards (D) in the Roanoke area – posted on Sunday, has 14 comments; Ben Carson says he would not support a Muslim for president, also posted Sunday, has 470 comments. That’s a 34:1 margin in favor of the Carson story over the Edwards story.
I checked the RTD, by the way, but for whatever reason that paper’s articles hardly get any comments. I also checked a couple leading conservative Virginia blogs. On Bearing Drift, Brian Schoeneman’s post yesterday about Ben Carson, ENOUGH WITH THE RELIGIOUS BIGOTRY ALREADY, has an astounding 207 comments; in stark contrast, Shaun Kenney’s post – also yesterday – on a key Virginia State Senate race, VA PILOT: MCCOLLUM’S “STUPID” MISTAKE CONTINUES TO SHOCK OBSERVERS, has just 1 comment. At The Bull Elephant, a post on Saturday entitled (ironically, given the results I’m finding here?)) Why Local Politics Matter, has 3 comments; while a Friday post about 2016, Pale Faced Liberals Speak With Forked Tongue, has 27 comments. I’ve also consistently noted more interest in/comments on posts here at Blue Virginia – let alone at leading national progressive blog Daily Kos – about 2016 presidential politics than about the Virginia 2015 elections this November. Sensing a pattern?
By the way, I’m also hearing this same thing in conversations with Virginia House and Senate political operatives and candidates, many of whom are struggling to get attention and funds for their races, while most people focus – to the extent they follow politics at all – on 2016 national stuff.
So here’s the utterly crazy thing: your vote, activism, monetary contributions, commentary on websites, you name it, matter proprortionately WAYYYYY more for local/state races than for the 2016 presidential contest. Not even close. Also, again, the Virginia elections – which will determine, among other things, control of the State Senate for Gov. McAuliffe’s final two years in office and beyond – this year are in just a few weeks, while the first 2016 presidential contest isn’t until the Iowa caucuses on February 1, 2016. Yet most people I talk to or see commenting on websites are overwhelmingly focused in the opposite direction. Of course, we are the same species that pays much more attention to many other things that are far less important (e.g., celebrity gossip, shark attacks, football, whatever) than things that are far more important (e.g., climate change, economic inequality, the refugee crisis in Europe). So sure, it’s human nature not to put the appropriate amount of attention and effort onto certain things relative to other things, but still, as someone who believes strongly in the slogan, “think globally, act LOCALLY,” I’ve got to admit I find it frustrating.