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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

(New) Morning in America?

The latest Democracy Corps report is titled “New World: Bush in Peril“. While Democracy Corps can sometimes be a bit over-optimistic in their poll interpretations, in this case their optimism seems justified.
In their latest survey, they find some significant evidence that the tide is turning. For example, they find that the Democrats now have a 5 point lead in party ID, a lead that first emerged in their polling five months ago and now seems solid. DR has been arguing for awhile that this was occurring and Democracy Corps is kind enough to credit him with correctly predicting the emergence of this trend.
The poll also finds that likely voters give Democrats a 7 point lead in a generic Congressional ballot and give Kerry a 4 point lead over Bush. In addition, by 13 points, voters say the country is off on the wrong track and by 8 points they say they want the country to go in a “significantly different direction” than the direction Bush is headed in. They also say they want to go in a significantly different direction in a wide variety of specific areas: by 32 points on the federal budget; by 25 points on health care; by 22 points on prescription drugs for seniors (more evidence that the GOP has lost the debate on the prescription drugs bill); by 22 points on jobs in America; by 15 points on the economy; by 11 points on taxes (another highly significant finding); by 10 points on creating more employment opportunities; by 9 points on income and wages; and by 9 points on middle class living standards. (For more detail on these sentiments, see Democracy Corps’ recently-released report on focus groups with swing voters.)
Democracy Corps also finds that independents and voters in swing areas are moving rapidly away from Bush. In their Bush-Kerry trial heat, independents favor Kerry by 11 points, voters in swing states favor him by 6 points and voters in swing congressional districts back Kerry by 4 points. And, on the question about whether the country should go in a significantly different direction, independents favor a different direction by an impressive 23 points (60 percent to 37 percent), voters in swing districts favor a new direction by 11 points and voters in swing states want the same by 10 points.
The latest Newsweek poll has more on the increasingly chilly climate for Bush. The poll finds his approval rating at 48 percent, with 52 percent saying they would not like to see him re-elected, compared to just 43 percent who say they would (an all-time low in this poll for Bush). He also receives poor ratings on tax policy (45 percent approval/47 percent disapproval); the situation in Iraq (45 percent/44 percent); the economy (41 percent/52 percent); health care (37 percent/50 percent); and (a new and interesting question) job creation and foreign competition (32 percent/55 percent).
So, if it is morning in America again, it definitely isn’t the kind that Ronald Reagan had (or proclaimed) in 1984. It’s a new morning, whose results, both for the GOP and for the country as a whole (thank goodness), seem likely to be quite different.

14 comments on “(New) Morning in America?

  1. Peter on

    Chandler won because of name value, not because he’s a Democrat. And he is in for a far tougher fight this summer and fall.
    I haven’t seen any discontent towards the GOP in my state, not in anywhere besides the metro areas. To most Americans, GOP = heroes on terror and purveyors who keep the homosexuals and liberals in line. Sad but true.

  2. apostropher on

    I’m in North Carolina (granted, the most solidly Democratic part of it, but still…) and I sense a shift. The small-L libertarians I know are peeling off in droves and I’ve heard several Republicans I know state that they were considering staying home on Election Day because they just don’t like Bush. He still has a good-sized number of partisans – particularly in the churches – but I think an Edwards candidacy would actually put North Carolina in play. Hard to tell whether Kerry would have the same effect, but if the military is becoming disillusioned with their state under GWB (I’m pretty far from the military bases, but the NG families I know are mighty unhappy), I wouldn’t be surprised to see them vote Kerry in larger-than-usual numbers.
    For what it’s worth, by 2008 I fully expect both NC and Virginia to be legitimate Democratic targets.

  3. laura on

    Hi everyone, i live in the upper left too in a heavily democraic area but my brother lives in Wisconsin and he keeps me posted about attitudes and values out there amongst the new barbarians. he isn’t seeing a shift at all except a vague sense that the rebubs might favor the rich… his coworkers and neighbors, if they discuss politics at all, still express a sense of pride in what they see as a successful war against terrorism. i know the polls say people don’t care about the war but that might be because of the widespread misperseption that the war is over and we won. Democrats need a coherent principled foreign policy. right now we are allowing the Bush administration to put forth the idea of a war against terrorism. Our politicians aren’t attacking this concept or exposing Bush’s real agenda ( eventual domination of Syria, Libya, Iran etc.) No one would vote Republican if they new they were voting for Perle’s fifty years of war aginst Islamic oil-producing nations.
    perhaps our alternative could be a foriegn policy of global co-operation to achieve environmental goals .This would include energy independence as well as humanitarian assistance to impoverished nations
    I have been scaring and deptressing myself with kaplan’s book The Ends of the Earth, the journal of his travels through the chaotic and socially psychotic nations of west Africa, the middle east and indochina. We are in real danger from the religious fanaticism which is growing out of the poverty and cultural dislocations caused by overpopulation, deforestation, and over-rapid urbanization. Also a recently published pentagon study defined global warming as a national security issue. We need to provide leadership in building sustainable communities as the cornerstone of our foreign policy becasue this is the only effective way to decrease trerroism and prevent wars for resources.

  4. Erik on

    Especially after the Chandler victory in a Repub district in the Repub south of KY.
    Not so sure about Partnership for America. Might not resonate. Sounds to much like domestic partnerships which leads to civil unions to gay marriages. But on the right track.
    It is a great idea of running against Reaganomics when Reagan even rasied taxes three times. Bush is putting forth these same failed voodoo trickle down theories that where debunked by Clinton when he rasied taxes on the top 2%. This will resonate with the people. It wasn’t that long ago that everyone had jobs and were getting better jobs than they had. Must also point out that the Repubs at the time were against it and it worked and they are against it again becuase it will work. The Repubs don’t want to see this policy enacted and work a second time. Because the public will see that supply side economics doesn’t work. We must start attacking this.
    Agree completely with the transit idea. Our governements(state, local, and federal) should also have fleet services that use alternative fuel vehicles/renewable means of energy. Some municipalites have done this. They ordered a fleet of some type of hybrid car in CA somewhere I believe. One step would be to move all the transit systems towards hybird/alternative/renewable energy. Should be a major push towards these environmentally safe and terrosim safe technology.

  5. MAtoNC on

    nice set of ideas, especially on the support of transit.
    I don’t have any of the math worked out, but some of these can be encompassed in the “Green Tax Shift” idea promoted by some environmentalists.
    Simply put, we try to move the burden of taxation off things that are good for people to produce (i.e. income) and towards things we do not want them to produce. (i.e. pollutants)
    It is time to raise the gas tax, and it is time to require superior fuel economy among ALL vehicles (not just cars, SUVs are currently exempt). Much of the increased revenue from new gas tax revenue would fund better public transport throughout the country.
    Indeed, this is one of the major sticking points of the ongoing debate over the re-authorization of the TEA-21 transport bill before Congress.
    See more here:

  6. JeffA on

    I agree completely about broadening the goal, and I see a potential added benefit of doing so. It has seemed, and I’m not certain if there’s any actual data to support or refute this, that there has been the beginnings of a re-enfranchisement of disillusioned voters getting worked up enough to come back into the system to vote, contribute, or even campaign. The major turnout in primaries and caucuses thus far would seem to support this. I think a lot of credit needs to go to Howard Dean’s campaign for bringing these folks out of the woodwork into the fold, and I think that’s something that we need to acknowledge and embrace going forward.
    My point is that to continue this, fostering an optimism for the Congressional seats as well as the White House could add a greater sense of personal empowerment in races where individual votes carry even greater weight. It could also add the psychological incentive to previously disenfranchised voters (or non-voters) that their efforts can have an impact on more than just the one front.
    It’s an uphill climb, what with the DeLay redistricting machine and all, but if the tide indeed is changing, perhaps it can wash a few more away…

  7. chris on

    Agree completely that offering a complete, easy-to-understand set of principles would do wonders to both nationalize the Congressional elections and allow D’s to demonstrate vision. Rather than debating names, what should those principles be?
    My offerings:
    1. Tax policy should reward work, not wealth;
    2. Rebuild our tradional alliances (stolen from W ’00);
    3. Use environmental laws to both protect the environment and stimulate business regulation;
    4. Spend the Highway Trust Fund to build effective mass-transit systems;

  8. Upper left on

    DR has a link, in the Political Strategy section, to a new Greenburg atricle titled “Contesting Values.” I think it is outstanding. It definitely ties into the discussions we have been having about themes and values.
    I love the idea of running against Reagan and Reaganomics. I also agree with his idea that Democtats need to stand up for our values. We have let Repubs be the party of values. Dem have values too: democracy, equality, diversity, and protection of the minority from the tyranny of the majority.
    We will never win back Congress and have a mandate for change unless we tell the voters what we stand for. The Repubs have stood for tax cuts, limited government, and strong defense. Dems need to stand for restored democracy, equality of opportunity, support for families, and strong world leadership through international cooperation.

  9. Upper left on

    I agree with franklyO about the desirability of an overarching theme for Congressional Dems. In a couple of posts I suggested “American Values, American Dreams,” but I never got any feedback.
    Regarding, the suggestion for a “New American Covenant,” Didn’t Clinton already use something like that? I personally find that sort of overtly Judeo-Christian reference discomforting given the post 9/11 environment. It sounds too much like Bush’s “crusade” comment. The last thing we need to do is suggest to the Muslim world that we think God is on our side. However, I am a raging secularist, and I am sure things look a bit different in Texas.
    FranklyO stated, “there is a wave of disgust …” I certainly sense something like that here in my little, upper-left, corner of the universe: Portland, Oregon. However, Portland is not by any means a representative sample of the country. This is an overwhelmingly Democratic city. I am curious about the impressions of others around the country?

  10. Brian Y on

    Frankly0, I completely agree. As a suggested theme, why not “Partnership with America”? It sets up a nice contrast with “Contract for America”, which always sounded like a business contract to me. Conversely, “partnership” implies more of a community sense, of working together to solve the nation’s problems. In other words, more in line with Democratic policies.

  11. frankly0 on

    Just to follow up: in 1994, the Republicans came up with the infamous “Contract for America.” The Dems need a like theme and gimmick.

  12. frankly0 on

    Given the numbers, and the way this election is likely to play out, I think there is a very good prospect that Bush can be ousted by a relatively sizable margin.
    What I wonder is whether the Democrats might not try to do think even larger and do something even larger: take back the Congress.
    In many ways, it seems that there is a tide of anger and disgust sweeping much of the nation over the policies and actions not only of Bush, but of the entire Republican party, which is at base so little different from Bush himself.
    In many ways, 2004 could be the obverse of 1994, when a large part of the public decided to throw the bums out — though back then they were the Democratic bums. I see no reason that the Republicans in Congress are not susceptible to the same kind of revulsion, in no small part due to their own abuse of power, and their smug expectation that that power can never be taken away from them.
    But if the Dems are going to make that happen, it is time to sound that theme, and get the voters themselves thinking about how they can decimate the Republicans, one Congressman at a time.


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