Progressive prosecutors have swept to power across the country. Most have enjoyed funding from billionaire George Soros. Many believe he is engaged in a campaign of influence based on the discretion prosecutors hold to decide who does and does not go to jail.
“Progressive prosecutors” like Philadelphia’s Larry Krasner and San Francisco’s Chesa Boudin have benefitted from Soros money.
An overlooked factor of these victories is that they also occur in off-cycle elections where turnout is lower and only the most politically engaged vote.
It is cheaper too.
According to The Washington Free Beacon:
Off-cycle elections do not depress turnout equally, but tend to afford disproportionate power to those more able to engage in and invested in the political process. For example, research indicates that the school boards governing majority-non-white school districts in four states are mostly elected by majority-white voters. And Hartney’s research finds that candidates backed by teachers’ unions are more likely to win school board elections in off-cycle years than in on-cycle years, both because the unions can exercise more influence over a smaller electorate, and because highly motivated teachers account for a larger share of the electorate.
As political scientist Richard Hanania has argued, one of the key facts of contemporary politics is that the most politically engaged are disproportionately likely to lean left. Progressives are significantly more likely to donate to campaigns, sign petitions, and go to protests. If an activity selects on political engagement, then the people who engage in that activity will be disproportionately progressive. This suggests that not only are local elections low turnout, but also those who do show up likely lean to the left of the community average.
Candidates like Boudin and Krasner succeed in part thanks to the support of liberal donors and activists, particularly the hundreds of thousands of dollars they receive from Soros. In a low-turnout election, those dollars go much further, because turning out the progressive base is all you really need to do to win.
There are lots of nonpartisan reasons to support on-cycle elections: They reduce redundancy and therefore cost, improve turnout and therefore representation, and curb the power of special interests. But for conservatives, who are sometimes wary of “electoral reform,” on-cycling may nonetheless prove a way to check prosecutors like Krasner or Boudin and subject them to fuller public scrutiny. In ideologically charged races in particular, progressives may be playing an outsized role, and on-cycling could help dilute their influence.
It appears it is time to start paying attention to off-cycle elections.