Will dismay over top of the ticket affect voting on down-ballot races?



Political analysts believe some voters might skip this year’s presidential race because they don’t like either of the major party candidates.

Dissatisfaction with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump might lead some voters to bypass that race and focus on other things on the ballot, said Rider University political science professor Ben Dworkin.

“You have a very cynical public. You have two candidates who are extremely unpopular, and, because of this, no one is really sure whether voters will simply skip the presidential contest and vote for everybody from Congress on down,” he said.

Seton Hall political scientist Matthew Hale said he doubts there will be much of that.

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“I actually think if people have decided to skip the presidential race, they’re going to skip everything, and I think that those folks are going to stay home,” Hale said. “That being said, I do think that both sides are potentially attracting people who traditionally haven’t voted. So that might even everything out in terms of turnout.”

Monmouth University Polling Institute director Patrick Murray said voter turnout could be lower than other recent presidential elections because of negative perceptions of Clinton and Trump.

“What we might end up seeing is a similar number of votes cast for president as cast for Congress, for example,” Murray said. “If that’s the case, that means that people skipped voting for president because we always see under voting down ballot rather than at the top of the ballot.”

Because of a recent law, this is the first presidential election that New Jersey school board races will appear on a November ballot.

Murray said most voters will be focused on the presidential race and might not vote in the school board contests.

“We always know that, down ballot, falloff keeps going the farther down the ballot you get, and school board is almost at the very bottom of the ballot,” he said. “But it’s hard to say whether they’re going to get lost in the shuffle because there will be more votes for school board in this election than there have been in any April election.”

Hale said he sees it another way.

“I think that once people get in the voting booth, they tend to vote for everything that’s in front of them,” he said. “There’s probably not a lot of information about school board candidates. People are going to go in sort of wondering who these people are, and then it’s really about party, and it’s really about name ID that’s going to decide those races.”

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