The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Friday, October 07, 2005

Something For You To Think About

From the Third Way's Politics of Polarization report:

Over the past thirty years, the ideological segmentation of the electorate has barely budged, but the authors found that ideology is a far greater predictor of voting behavior than in years past. For Democrats, the ramifications of the great sorting-out are mostly negative as there are three conservatives for every two liberals. Thus, compared to a generation ago, blue states are bluer, red states redder, and swing states fewer. Citing one example, the authors note that Jimmy Carter captured 72% of the liberal vote and won, while John Kerry captured 85% of the liberal vote and lost.

- From Ezra Klein

Let's tie that in with...

[The Democratic] party's problems are structural and can be explained by three numbers: 21, 34 and 45. According to the network exit polls, 21 percent of the voters who cast ballots in 2004 called themselves liberal, 34 percent said they were conservative and 45 percent called themselves moderate.

Those numbers mean that liberal-leaning Democrats are far more dependent than conservatively inclined Republicans on alliances with the political center.

-via EJ Dionne, Washington Post, through Kevin Drum

And finally...

Between 1974 and 2004, the party breakdown of House members from the eleven former states of the confederacy reversed — from two-thirds Democrat to almost two-thirds Republican. As everyone who follows politics knows, this massive transformation is the key to understanding the Republican Party's capture of Congress in the 1990s.

-via the new book, Off-Center, through Kevin Drum

Mere base mobilization is just a poor strategy for our side. But how do we win then? Part of it is message work, but another part of it is actually dessiminating the message. We haven't done too well at either of those sides. It's also not hiding our successful candidates because they don't fit into what the activist portion of our base finds to be a 'good Democrat.'

Case in point, Bob Casey. Cleary beating up on a battered Rick Santorum (he's up about fourteen points on the incumbent Senator right now), some bloggers are talking about hiding him and his story for fear of confusing voters about what Democrats stand for:

Bob Casey Jr. has extended his lead from 11 to 18 in the most recent Quinnipiac poll.

From September 27 - October 3, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,530 Pennsylvania voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points.

If the 2006 election for Senator were being held today, and the candidates were Bob Casey Jr. the Democrat, and Rick Santorum the Republican, for whom would you vote?

Bob Casey: 52% (50)
Rick Santorum: 34% (39)
Don't Know/Other: 14% (12)

...

For the past few months, I have always thought Casey's numbers would go down; it was just a matter of time. But maybe this thing really will be a blowout that never materializes into a real race? We can only hope. To the extent we can keep his race out of the national spotlight (which a close race would be), we minimize further national confusion about what we stand for as a Democratic Party.

Right. Because what some voter in Missouri or Montana is gonna do is look at the US Senate race in Pennsylvania, look at his candidate, turn to his/her Senate race he needs to vote for, throw his/her hands up in frustration and think- "Well now I don't know what the Dems stand for," and vote for the other guy. Does anyone see the disconnect in this? Guliani and the Governator run around trying to put as much distance between them and the Republican platform as possible and get rousing cheers at the RNC, with presidential speculation too boot. But we 're demanding ideological purity?

And for everyone who is sick and tired about talking about the South, then you shouldn't look back at this country's political history. Thirteen presidents have come from the states of the old confederacy (just under a third of all presidents), while more US Speaker's, House Majority and Minority leaders, and Senate Majority and Minority leaders have come from the south than any other geographical region/grouping. I'd give you the exact numbers, but I'm gonna have to rummage through and find an undergraduate civil war history notebook to fight it. It's not something that suddenly came about due to Atwater's Southern Strategy.