The mid-summer election cycle of 2014 began July 18th, with a stronger than usual turnout for an early voting period that will last through Saturday, August 2nd.
When the final votes are tallied late on the evening of election day, August 7th, several factors will no doubt have affected the outcome — ranging from dissension among Democratic activists regarding party endorsements for judicial candidates to controversies surrounding key campaigns to candidate matchups that will either settle old scores or create new ones.
It is no accident that ferment among Democrats is a key factor in what happens in the run-up to August 7th and beyond. The Democratic Party began the campaign year with something to prove.
In 2010, all Democratic candidates for county office were defeated by their GOP counterparts, and the scope of that defeat, in the face of what had seemed a formidable demographic edge for the Democrats in a majority African-American county, occasioned a reaction among local party cadres that was equal parts chagrin, disbelief, suspicion of being cheated, and a resolve not to let it happen again.
But Shelby County's Democrats, who in theory should have a more pronounced demographic advantage than even four years ago, are in fact threatened with the prospect of another Republican sweep. This is due more to a series of Democratic misadventures than to any artfulness on the part of the Republicans, though the GOP's substantial edge in financial resources is a factor to be reckoned with, as well.