Thanks but no thanks

Welcome to the week’s Reno News & Review.

I wrote a few times in recent weeks about my perception that all the out-of-state activists who were encouraging local voters to vote early were having a negative impact on local democracy. My argument is this: Local media, including us, have strategies about covering elections with increasing intensity up to Election Day. That means people who vote early vote with less information than people who vote on the big day. Out-of-state activists only care about their candidate, so they are perfectly content to see voters go to the polls uninformed.

We’ve resolved to change our own reportage, debates and endorsements in coming years—knock on wood—but I do think the “activist effect” is a phenomenon we’ll see again. I think the only way to offset the effect is for local activists who are involved in national campaigns to at least inform the out-of-staters about local issues and candidates.

Now, let me point out a related phenomenon that I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere else in the press, but I believe to be true. When so many California progressive advocates and activists are in Nevada, who’s watching the farm in California?

I’ve heard a great deal about how people who were against gay marriage outspent and out-campaigned gay marriage proponents in Proposition 8. I know how rare volunteers are. So if those activists were promoting a presidential candidate in other states, weren’t the numbers of liberal activists working to defeat Prop 8 decreased?

I’ll bet there are people in California today who wish they’d concentrated on their own backyards. I think it’s likely Nevada would have gone blue in any case, but even if McCain had carried the state, it would have made little difference in the electoral vote, and the possibility exists that both Nevada and California would have been better off for it.