How to win 99.6% of the vote
Too many members of Congress are running unopposed
DAYS before he seeks re-election to Congress for an eighth time, Representative Mike Capuano of Massachusetts has yet to order a single bumper sticker or“I Like Mike” lawn sign. That is not as risky as it might sound. In his district, a Democratic bastion that covers the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, chunks of Harvard University and swathes of blue-collar Boston, Mr Capuano faces no Republican opponent—or opposition of any kind. His is the only name that will appear on the ballot on November 4th.
在他第八次进行国会再选的前几天，马萨诸塞州的众议员迈克·卡普阿诺打算购一款车尾贴，或者“我爱迈克”之类的草地竞选标语。这并不像听起来那么冒险。在这个地区，民主党堡垒覆盖了麻省理工学院、哈佛大学大片地区以及波士顿大部分的蓝领阶层，卡普阿诺没有任何共和党对手，也没有任何反对派。他是唯一一个会出现在11 月4 日竞选名单中的人。
This is no novelty for Mr Capuano. After he first won the seat in 1998, he never faced a Republican opponent again, often cruising to victory with such Cuban-style scores as 99.6% of the vote. Pondering past races, he struggles to recall details of the few independents who have challenged him. “I had a Communist, right?” he asks an aide. “A Socialist? Six years ago?Four?”
Few others in Congress have been as safe for as long. But Mr Capuano has more company than before. Ever-fewer races for the House of Representatives are closely fought, leaving four-fifths of that body's 435 members with little to fear on polling day. Their doomed challengers—formerly stirred to action by a mix of idealism, ambition, vanity and (at times) self-delusion—seem at last to be noticing the odds against them. Add on the soaring costs of any election, and a growing number are quitting the field.
In 2014 Republicans have put up no challenger in 37 House races, while Democrats are ceding 32 districts without a fight, according to David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report. A further eight House districts will see no contest between the main parties, thanks to a “top two” primary system used in Washington state and California, in which ordinary voters (rather than just party members) can pick the two candidates who compete for each seat in the general election—a move sold as a cure-all for partisan extremism, but which can turn safe districts into blue-on-blue and red-on-red fights. That total of 77 single-party House races is high by recent standards and marks a big jump since 2012, when there were 45 of them. Stephen Colbert, a comedian, once persuaded aFlorida congressman running unopposed to tell the camera that he liked cocaine and prostitutes,by arguing that it didn't matter what he said because he couldn't possibly lose.
据库克政治报告的大卫·沃瑟曼称，2014 年共和党在37 场众议院竞选中都没有遇到对手，而民主党毫不抵抗地放弃了32 个选区。在另外八个众议院选区中，由于华盛顿州和加州使用了“两大”主系统，这两个州中普通选民(而不是只有党派成员)可以选择两位候选人在大选中争夺各自的席位，因此主要党派之间都不会发生竞争。这项行动是解决党派极端主义的良药，但也会将安全区域变成党派内部斗争。据最近的标准来看，77 场单党派众议院竞选数量很多，而2012 年只有45 场，这标志着自2012 年起的一次巨大飞跃。喜剧演员斯蒂芬·科尔伯特曾经劝说一名没有遇到对手的佛罗里达国会议员在镜头前称他喜欢可卡因和妓女，并争辩说他说什么都没关系，因为他不可能落选