The presidential race between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump is generating intense public and media interest, but there are other offices to be decided on the Nov. 8 ballot.

All U.S. House of Representatives seats will appear on the ballot, and in some states one of two U.S. Senate seats will appear, as well. The importance of these races is sometimes overshadowed by the presidential race, which itself sometimes has an effect down ballot.

"The presidential race gets most of the attention because it is so media driven," said Terry Lathan, chairwoman of the Alabama Republican Party. "But I think it is incumbent for each citizen to know who they want to represent them."

Lathan said with the technology available on phones and mobile devices, there is no reason Americans can't be better informed about candidates.

"In 30 seconds, I can find out where the Kardashians were last night and what they were wearing," she said. "In the same 30 seconds, I can find out who's running for county commission or Congress and what they stand for."

While the party that dominates Congress can be a bane or burden for a president, some observers don't see much change in store for Alabama.

"I don't anticipate any changes in the Alabama congressional delegation, no matter what happens in the presidential election," said Bill Stewart, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Alabama.

"I don't think the Democrats in Alabama are in a position to put up strong candidates to face Republican incumbents, all of whom bear the proud 'C' of conservative by their names," he said. "It's hard to kick out somebody who proclaims his or her conservatism because Alabama is a very conservative state."

Jess Brown, retired professor of history and political science at Athens State University, agrees.

"In Alabama, the dynamics of the presidential contest won't affect the outcome of many down-ballot races," he said. "Alabama is one of the six most conservative states. Alabama is crimson red, whereas Rhode Island is navy blue."

In states like Alabama, that lean heavily Republican, there isn't enough competition from the Democratic Party to put incumbents on their guard, Brown said.

But in states that have competitive elections, some down-ballot races could be affected by the presidential race, especially in areas where the Hispanic vote turns out, he said.

"When I look at some of the polling data, I don't think Trump will get as much Hispanic vote as some polls say," Brown said. "Some give him 20 percent, but I think that share will drop. Trump's rhetoric about Hispanics and immigration will have an effect."

Alabama, meanwhile, is likely to remain loyal to the Republican Party.

Democrats are biding their time, waiting for the tide to turn, officials said. Some think that has begun with the conviction and removal from office on felony ethics violations of Speaker Mike Hubbard, the suspension from office (again) of Chief Justice Roy Moore, and the possibility of an investigation into the actions of Gov. Robert Bentley on allegations of using state resources while having an affair. 

"Democrats in Alabama will have a future when so many Republicans get indicted and have to leave office, which causes the Republican electorate to vote Democratic out of disgust," said Billy Underwood, chairman of the Colbert County Democratic Executive Committee.

Robert Palmer may be reached at 256-740-5720, or robert.palmer@TimesDaily.com. Follow on Twitter @TD_RobertPalmer.

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