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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The Secrets of Bush’s Success…..and How Democrats Can Come Back

I collaborated on an article with John Judis and Marisa Katz, “30 Years War: How Bush Went Back to the 1970s“, which has just appeared in The New Republic. Here are some excerpt from the article, but I think you’ll be interested in reading the whole thing.

George W. Bush’s victory shows that the political strategy that conservative Republicans developed in the late 1970s is still viable. Bush won a large swath of states and voters that were once dependably Democratic by identifying Republicans as the party of social conservatism and national security. Massachusetts Senator John Kerry rallied a powerful coalition of minorities and college-educated professionals based in postindustrial metropolitan areas like Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles. In the future, this coalition may triumph on its own. But, in this election, Democratic successes in the Northeast, upper Midwest, and West could not make up for Republican successes in the South, the border states, the Southwest, and the Great Plains. Fittingly, the election was decided in Ohio–a state that combines the metropolitan North and the small-town South.
…Bush recreated the Reagan-era coalition by combining Brooks Brothers and Wal-Mart, the upper class and the lower middle class. He won wealthy voters–those who make over $200,000–by 63 to 35 percent. But he also won voters who had not completed college by 53 to 47 percent. If minorities, who voted predominately for Kerry, are excluded, Bush’s margin among working voters was even higher. He reached these voters, who made up the bulk of his support, through opposition to gay marriage and abortion and through patriotic appeal as the commander-in-chief in a war against terrorism that seamlessly unites Osama bin Laden with Saddam Hussein. According to the Los Angeles Times, Bush’s voters accorded the most importance to “moral/ethical values” and “terrorism/homeland security” in deciding their vote.
Kerry’s Democratic coalition, by contrast, was composed of low-income minorities and upscale, college-educated professionals–two groups that, not coincidentally, were the least likely to accept the president’s contention that the Iraq war was part of the war on terrorism. In national exit polls, Kerry got about 70 percent of the nonwhite vote. He tied Bush among voters with college degrees and bested him by 55 to 44 percent among voters who had engaged in postgraduate study. Kerry’s voters, as one might expect, cared most about jobs and the war in Iraq. Luckily for Bush, however, voters without degrees still outnumber those with them. In Colorado, Kerry won voters with college degrees by 50 to 48 percent and those with postgraduate study by 55 to 43 percent. But Bush, by winning voters without degrees by 58 to 41 percent, was able to carry the state fairly easily.
….Kerry won not just big cities, but most of the large metropolitan areas dominated by professionals and immigrants. Kerry did very well in the West, Northeast, and parts of the Midwest because of the growth of high-tech metro areas. Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, and New Hampshire are now solidly in the Democratic fold. Illinois, New York, and California have become as thoroughly Democratic as Massachusetts. But, outside these states, Kerry’s support among urban voters failed to carry the day. In North Carolina, Kerry actually did better than Al Gore in the state’s key metro areas–Gore lost Charlotte’s Mecklenburg County in 2000, but Kerry won it 52 to 48 percent. Nevertheless, Bush again won the state by about 13 percent, because he slaughtered Kerry outside Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, winning 64 percent in the Greensboro area, 60 percent in the rural, small-town east, and 59 percent in the mountain west.
…Bush was also fortunate in his opponent. John Kerry was an able debater, and his experience in Vietnam and on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee partially neutralized arguments that would have been made against other Democrats like former Vermont Governor Howard Dean. But Kerry, an aloof New Englander, operated at a distinct disadvantage among white, working-class voters. Unlike Bill Clinton, he had trouble convincing voters that he “felt their pain.” In interviews conducted on the eve of the election, we asked white, working-class Bush supporters in Martinsburg, West Virginia, what they thought of Clinton. Even those who praised Bush for his “family values” said they had voted for Clinton and thought he was an “excellent president.” But it wasn’t Clinton’s politics they preferred; it was Clinton himself, despite the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Gore had exactly the same problem with these voters in 2000. The Democrats need to find a candidate that can talk to both PhDs and tractor-trailer drivers.
If they do this, the Democrats will be able to win presidential elections. Kerry, after all, came very close to winning this time despite his inadequacy as a candidate. Democrats showed that they can hold their own in states like Colorado (where Democrat Ken Salazar was elected to the Senate), Arizona, Nevada, and Virginia. In many of these states, demography is on the Democrats’ side. Colorado is going to become more like California and less like Utah or Montana, and Virginia is going to become more like New Jersey and less like South Carolina. The future of Ohio is Franklin County, not Butler County. Democrats also showed that they can compete in raising money without relying on corporate contributions and that the Internet is an important vehicle for organizing.

37 comments on “The Secrets of Bush’s Success…..and How Democrats Can Come Back

  1. cloudy on

    still no one has addressed the issues raised of long standing of the Democrats AND media 1) failure for five months to respond to the flipflop spin even though, as many including Jonathan Chait in the Oct 18 issue of New Republic explained is was bogus — a “mere spin” AND 2) their failure in the last three weeks of the campaign to address the Matt Bai distortion suggesting that Kerry was less willing to confront Al Qaeda militarily than Bush when the opposite is the case. This kind of chorus of silence guarantees defeat. Note that the first questioner in the 2d presidential debate said that THE MAIN REASON her friends (in Missouri) didn’t want to vote for Kerry was because they thought he was too “wishywashy”. The same dynamics that drove the failure to address this issue I have pointed out then continue to drive the commentary now. Only when Democrats are willing to address the whole pack of hounds that didn’t bark will they even have a chance at winning. If they are deferential to they agenda, they lose. If you go along with that, you might earn kudos for yourself, but the causes put forward here lost as the price of your selling out. Just because everyone is going along with the agenda doesn’t do anything to protect the planet or the majority of people on it whose interests are the ones sold out by all this political default.

  2. thecreature on

    Someone wrote this in Washington Monthly a while back, but it bears repeating, I think.
    The Republicans of the 2000s bear a remarkable resemblance to the Democrats of the 1970s. Their power looks huge on paper, but the party is increasingly entranced by special interests, whose interests they frequently mistake for the nation’s interests. The party is also growing unwieldy, with a large faction disagreeing with the direction the party is heading (McCain, Hagel, Lugar).
    In the 70s, the one thing the Democrats could agree on was more government. Now, the one thing that Republicans can agree on is more tax cuts. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the tax cut bills were the only bills that met with almost no Republican resistance. Tax cuts are the only thing that both Susan Collins and Trent Lott can completely agree on.
    In 1980, Carter fought against the irrational pro-government expansion wing of his party and looked weak, particularly after losing. This convinced the neo-New Deal crowd that the candidate ought to be an old-style liberal, and they nominated the badly-defeated Mondale before realizing that a centrist policy (which Carter ironically had tried to use in 1980) would be needed.
    In 2004 Bush encouraged his party’s worst tax-slashing and base-pandering instincts, thus looking strong and narrowly defeating his opponent. But the effect of the Bush win will be the same as the Carter loss. The Republican base is now convinced that it was right all along.
    At the risk of looking too optimistic, look for the Republicans to nominate a far-right-winger in 2008, as the base claims credit for the Bush victory and steamrolls the moderates out.
    If the Democrats pick a reasonable and modestly charismatic centrist, the Republican Mondale won’t stand a chance.

  3. George Phillies on

    New Hampshire? This was one of two states in the Union where the Libertarian Party was not on the ballot for President, did not field a candidate for Governor, had a state chair that ran fundraisers for the Republican gubernatorial candidate, and undoubtedly coincidentally had had a series of distinguished members appointed by the Republican Governor de-elect to a major commission. Absent these circumstances, the Republicans would have done a bit worse than they did this year. Even if a Libertarian candidate does not draw votes directly, by raising issues and phrasing questions he or she can have a significant effect on candidate debates, as seen in the NH Governor 2002 election.

  4. Laura on

    “we lost because our guy was emotionally distant – another stiff like the last one, except this one was P-whipped by an annoying rich woman with a knack for saying stupid things”
    Once again another example of how even our side buys into and repeats GOP and media spin points, “stiff”, “aloof”, “elite” etc. PEOPLE, THIS SUMS UP WHY WE LOSE. We not only allow our candidates to be defined by the media and opposition, we repeat these spin points and then blame the candidate himself. This same tactic was used on Gore.

  5. standa on

    This article is sure to raise hackles…
    Bush’s architect ‘will be last man out the door’
    November 8, 2004 – 1:28PM
    In first few hours of counting, John Kerry still seemed to be in the game and the political world held its breath.
    But Rove told Bush that the crucial state of Ohio was in the bag and that he would be re-elected.
    “Karl was calling states long before the networks did,” a Bush confidant said. “His grasp of reality was totally uncanny.”
    Evidently more questions are being raised like by Keith Olbermann
    Secondly good coments on how the Dems held ground in upper Midwest.
    Dem wins in state legislative chambers e.g. OR, WA, WI, CO etc ( but not the South ) is terrific and makes a strong case for what/why/where/how Dems need to do in 2006 and 2008.
    That means concentrating resources and firepower in the Northeast + PA, MD, VA, upper Midwest, and Southwest/West. In other words forget the South for next 4 yrs. ( sorry Dems supporters you’ll have to hang in there ).
    Unless the Dems pick up a few more seats in Congress and win back WH in 2008 I’m afraid it won’t matter much anymore.
    Rove is going to concentrate his efforts in the Upper Midwest ( most EV’s at stake ) because the Dems can protect the Far West and Northeast. This will be the biggest battle in 2008.
    Some thoughts…
    1. Dems cannot win with a candidate from the NE because Republicans always seem to find a way to place the “liberal label” and smear.
    Forget Hillary Clinton in 2008 – would be a disaster much worse than Kerry.
    2. Howard Dean needs to be new DNC Chairman.
    3. Forget the South for next 4 yrs because the Dems would waste too many resources with little chance of gain.
    4. The Dems need to concentrate efforts on NE, upper Midwest, and Southwest/West. This country is very divided and the BLUE STATES find Bush’s “regressive reality as intolerable.
    Who to run…
    I think a Senator or Governer from an Upper Midwest State like Evan Bayh, Senator from Indiana who is a centrist that appears to be Karl Rove smear proof. Team him with a dynamo like Barack Obama and we could have a winning ticket in 2008.
    Assuming the election was not stolen John Kerry will be extremely valuable in the Senate along with other Dem power players like Biden.
    Edwards is going to be out of the poltical limelight since he gave up his Senate seat.
    The Dems need all the strong players they can muster since their number in the Senate is now just 44. I see Kerry being a valuable bridge to the moderate Republicans like the Senators from Maine ( Snowe and Collins ), Chafee from RI and so on since the extreme right wingnuts like Frist and Santorum are going to try and press their moral mandate.
    Now go back to the article I posted at top…
    “Bush is counting on Rove to devise strategies to get his conservative agenda passed by the new Congress, and to have five more Republican senators elected in 2006 to bolster Bush’s final years in office.
    Moreover, Rove already has begun pulling together a master plan to increase Hispanic support for Bush and attract millions of young voters to the Republican Party.
    “Bush wants a policy legacy and a political legacy,” a senior strategist explained, “and he counts on Karl for both.”
    The Dems had better be ready for the mother of all political battles over the next 4 years,
    I am serious !

  6. Laura on

    Tom you are buying into GOP and media spin points. Kerry was not putting on an act when he went goose hunting. The fact of the matter is he has been hunting all of his life. But your statement shows that part of the problem that Dem candidates have is the persistent misinformation campaign by the GOP spin machine and the media echo chamber. Remember all the garbage thrown at Gore, “inventing the internet”, “earth tones”, “love story”, “love canal” etc.? All of these fake stories invented to portray a characature of Gore and turn him into a “phony”, “liar” or a joke. But all of it was bogus. But these things get repeated often enough and enough Americans bought into it.

  7. Gabby Hayes on

    Assuming the election wasn’t stolen, we lost because our guy was emotionally distant – another stiff like the last one, except this one was P-whipped by an annoying rich woman with a knack for saying stupid things.
    On personality points, we’re lucky we lost close. It’s a testatment to how badly many people dislike Bush. I look at the Democratic party and see many people who would make a better candidate, but they didn’t run. George Mitchell, Bob Kerrey, or Joe Biden, to name three.
    Any of those three could have beaten Bush.
    Kerry is hopelessly ponderous when speaking. He lacks the common touch, and that is fatal in a world where the TV image is who you ARE.
    We need to stop jerking ourselves around over losing by the narrowest of margins. If we want to kick ourselves in the ass, I say we go back two years to 2002, when the party collectively caved in on Iraq in the fall and let Bush do what he wanted.
    I have no interest in trying to “get” the evangelics. Anyone who thinks we can win the battle of the spiritual snobs is suffering from a bad case of the lobotomies. 25% of the people said “values” was their top issue. And guess what? 100% of those people think voting Democratic is a sign of Demon possession.
    Centrist talk and policies are fine, but if the candidate is a stiff, the issues won’t save him.
    Kerry did a great job debating, but he did lousy job of presenting his issues, and his campaign was a bona fide disaster until the Clintonistas took partial control at the behest of party regulars.
    The sad truth is that we have created a nominating process that picks whoever the people of two small, unimportant states think is groovy at that moment in time.
    Bring back the smoke filled rooms. Get the party officials back in the process. We need to pick some top candidates and let them vie. We don’t need to continue trotting out the kind of zoo we did last time. Kucinch, Braun-Mosely – who let these two run? THEY are part of the reason the country perceives the party as a bunch of honking geese. We leave all our good ones at home, and trot out the turkeys.
    Why? Because our system of picking a nominee assures that we will only get candidates who don’t have anything better to do than run for president for two years.
    I’ll take choices by smoke filled rooms over the smattering of party regulars in Iowa, who can’t even deliver their own lousy 7 votes.

  8. Badger on

    I am surprised that Thomas says that Wisconsin is going the same way as Missouri. We have a democratic governor and two democratic senators. Russ Feingold, the only senator to oppose the Patrit Act, won handily. Kerry won by a greater margin than Gore. Kerry attracted a crowd of 80,000 in Madison. Madison generated a democratic margin for Kerry comparable to St. Louis. What’s the difference, then? No southern/western heritage for George and Laura to pander to.

  9. PWestre on

    I really don’t think that MN/Wi are going to shift South.
    Actually I think its the opposite. Pres. Bush made 8 visits to MN during the campaign. That should have resulted in the Repubs holding their substantial state house Majority. Instead they lost 13 seats. (The most important election result was that the right wingers were the ones defeated!) The DFL came within a whisker of regaining control of the house. Gov. Pawlenty will have a much harder time shoving his far right agenda through with his vastly diminished majority. This election rejuvenated the MN DFL. I personally believe that the DFL is going to put the F and the L back in the party. (Farmer and Labor). Mn is probably serving as a harbinger of the decline of Republican hegemony in the US.

  10. PWestre on

    I really don’t think that MN/Wi are going to shift South.
    Actually I think its the opposite. Pres. Bush made 8 visits to MN during the campaign. That should have resulted in the Repubs holding their substantial state house Majority. Instead they lost 13 seats. (The most important election result was that the right wingers were the ones defeated!) The DFL came within a whisker of regaining control of the house. Gov. Pawlenty will have a much harder time shoving his far right agenda through with his vastly diminished majority. This election rejuvenated the MN DFL. I personally believe that the DFL is going to put the F and the L back in the party. (Farmer and Labor). Mn is probably serving as a harbinger of the decline of Republican hegemony in the US.

  11. David T on

    “Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, and New Hampshire are now solidly in the Democratic fold.”
    I think “solidly” is an exaggeration for New Hampshire–a one percent victory by a Demcoratic candidate from next door. And I’m not even sure it’s accurate for Minnesota.

  12. john on

    To me the constant harping on “Halliburton”, Bush’s “failures” even reaching all the way to the flu vaccine shortage- as well as the misleading “Tax cuts for the rich” – none of which were believable -showed the paucity of the Kerry campaign. Too bad he didnt have a real plan that I could believe in because he did articulate a few good ideas.

  13. Mike on

    Looking at the election results in Missouri, I wonder about the EDM thesis. In the urban areas and core suburbs , such as St. Louis County, City of St. Louis and Jackson County(Kansas City), Kerry out-performed Gore substantially, with the coalitiion of African Americans, knowledge workers and union families, just as EDM would predict. But the gain of 120k voters for Kerry was swamped by 260k additional voters for Bush, who came from the rural areas and the collar suburbs around Kansas City and St. Louis. In particular, I don’t think EDM gives a good explanation of the dynamics of the collar suburbs or exurbs, places like St. Charles County in Missouri. The middle class residents of these places are often from traditionally Democratic family backgrounds and certainly do not have compelling economic reasons to vote Republican, yet they do, in increasing numbers. Unlike the rural areas, collar suburbs are rapidly growing and are integral parts of knowledge based economies, often as preferred residences for mid level technical workers.
    Combine the collar suburbs with a rural vote that has become overwhelmingly Republican over the last decade, and you have a state that was heavily Democratic as late as the 1996 and 1998 elections, but is now owned by the Republicans, who control both houses of the legislature and most statewide offices.
    If Democrats cannot compete in places like Missouri, then we are a minority party, pure and simple.

  14. K. Brown on

    I think you need to put your statement “states and voters that were once dependably Democratic by identifying Republicans as the party of social conservatism and national security..” in a bit of historical context, at least as far as the South is concerned.
    Let’s remember that the GOP is the party of Abraham Lincoln. For this reason (as well as the New Deal) a lot of Southerners shied away from affiliation with the GOP (Jeez, Strom Thurmon was a Democrat at one point). At present, both Lincoln and the New Deal are distant in the political rear view mirror and the GOP now connects better with the average Southerner, at least as far as social concerns go. Clearly, connection with GOP fiscal policies is more mixed, but that seems not to have been a hot button issue in 2004.

  15. cloudy on

    The dirty little secret of Bush’s success is the elephant in the room that no one will admit: JUSTIFYING THE LYING. By not responding to the flipflop spin, and to the Matt Bai distortion in the Oct 10 NY Times Magazine that formed the basis of the last three weeks of the Republican campaign in the media as well as by the candidates — the Democrats and the 527s and the media’s uniform silence guaranteed “reporting for duty” defeat.
    You can’t win unless, behind all the ballyhoo and all the tramoya, you’re really fighting to win, and the Democrats were just throwing the election by refraining from devastating these two spins as they could easily. Why the uniform silence? All the things about this system that simply aren’t admitted: a machine with an agenda. I said many times during the campaign that this was happening and that the machine agenda is a better predictor of outcomes than the polls. Which it was and is.
    Never mind all the palaver about having a Yankee on the ticket etc etc etc. If you don’t face up to machine politics and the justifying of the lying, all the triangulation and all the populism and all the GOTV and so forth in the world ISN’T WORTH A HILL OF BEANS. If there’s a machine agenda, it wins out unless you have the courage to expose and oppose it. With everyone just trying to earn kudos coming up with alternative explanations to this truth of the matter, the outcome is what it is FOR THAT VERY REASON.
    I am for REAL democracy, not justifying the lying to lubricate a machine agenda and engineer the appearance of a “mandate” as the powers that pee dictate. But that sort of REAL democracy takes moral courage. The courage at Omaha beach in WWII was one kind of courage. The courage to get together and stand against this kind of machine politics instead of dismissing this meticulously proven (in previous postings) reality is a different kind of courage, one that requires going AGAINST what is respectable, and that is often harder to find in human experience.

  16. David on

    Thank you for the excellent blog site. The information and analyses you’ve shared have been very helpful.
    One request: Will you (or others) be providing an assessment why the pre-election polling and analyses were off? The exit polling analyses has been useful. However, I haven’t seen anything that talks to what happened in the pre-election polling.
    Thank you.

  17. Franklin Delano Sinatra on

    Thomas, in Mnnesota we had some gains in the state leg. that were impressive. My guess is that that state never really tips red, but maybe becomes pink-er. As for CO, immigrants are going there. I think that will account for any D-leaning tippage.
    Kerry was good & tough, just not enough. It’s fun to ask what the perfect Kerry campaign would have been: 50 million dollars more to compete harder earlier in a few more marginal states, an injection of beliefs into his politics *from day 1*, and a consistent simultaneous critique of Bush and populist appeal to the working class from day 1.
    Sure, the populist part would have been harder for him to pull off. It would be better for him to be from, say, the Midwest, too. But there’s only so much issuespace out there, and Iraq/9-11 took up so much. Luck is a very, very big factor too.
    Or better yet, the perfect Kerry would be Wesley Clark entering the race a year earlier with the best operatives in the party coalescing around him. But that’s not reality.

  18. Frank on

    1. Only in America could someone who was a legacy admission to Andover, Yale, and Harvard portray himself as a man of the people. Is this a great country or what?
    2. There have been and are Dems who can go against the effete intellectual stereotype. The late and lamented Mel Carnahan in Missouri, for example, and Paul Wellstone in MN (both were simultaneously highly educated and authentic individuals). We can find these folks, now, but they will probably not come from the ranks of serving Senators. Better to find them in the ranks of the governors.
    3. The Dems lost every tactical battle. Here’s my take on why. If you look at the SBVT ads, they had the effect of causing Kerry to go off-message, while the Press did its usual nonsense (Whitewater journalism). But they had another effect as well, to move the issue of VietNam-era character from the table. Bush, by attacking Kerry’s strength, left the Press with a profound sense of weariness re the entire issue. So they didn’t cover the fact that Bush was basically a doped up party boy during his so-called tour of duty.
    What would have happened if the Dems had started in on Bush’s failure to prevent 9-11, the fact that he “peed his pants” as Paul Begala said, the fact that he missed Bin Laden etc. from the beginning. Would that have taken the issue “off the table”? Or, pointed out that the number of abortions has gone up during Bush’s admin.?
    As Robert Redford said in “The Sting:” He cheated. But he’s better at it than you.

  19. alex on

    One thing democrats could do that would shift a lot of rural and semi-rural blue collar white men is to change the gun control debate. Howard Dean, alone among the candidates, understood the enormous emotional force of this issue. It isn’t about the guns as much as the perception among rednecks that the “guvmint” doesn’t trust them. These guys won’t trust and won’t vote for politicians who don’t trust them to be safe with their favorite recreational toys. This should be a state-by-state or county-by-county issue. Holding rural peole to urban standards (which they don’t understand) is deeply insulting to them and they vote against their best interests in reaction to it.

  20. Mady on

    …..his “inadequacy as a candidate.”
    I hope you misspoke. Some flaws, but jeez, he fought a great campaign. I didn’t find him inadequate in the least. He won a higher percentage of the vote losing than most recent Democrats have winning.
    What is wrong with this party that when it has a defeat, it immediately turns on itself, instead of finding a way to use the colossal amount of talent in this campaign, and going on from here.
    I liked what I saw, it was an aggressive fighting party with a good platform, enthusiastic crowds, and its base message intact.

  21. Tim H. on

    I don’t think you really need to strategize much about the next election. Whoever comes out against offshoring and for protectionism first will win.

  22. dk on

    It doesn’t matter who are candidate or our message is if we can’t get it out. The media gives the US Rush and O’Reilly, Fox News, cable talk shows with Coulter, Novak and Buchanan, and Tim Russert on MTP challenging Kerry on if atrocities were committed in Viet Nam. We have to downstream Air America, TIVO Jon Stewart & Bill Maher, blog, and watch Donahue get cancelled by MSNBC because he dared to bring Rosie on to challenge Bush’s war. If we continue to try to swim upstream once every four years, we won’t be heard let alone believed. We need to create a media outlet that gives all of the US easy and daily access to our message. Rove has proved if you say it often enough and loud enough – it is true! Mandate is just the latest example.

  23. Laura Belin on

    There is much interesting analysis here, but you and your co-authors ignore some important facts.
    First, it is quite possible that Kerry did win Ohio–there were many irregularities in that state. To cite just one example, we will never know how many thousands of people did not vote in Democratic stronghold areas (urban centers, college towns) because they did not have three or four or seven hours to wait in line. Although turnout was high in Republican areas as well, there were plenty of voting machines there, so no one was forced to spend half the day voting. The punchcard machines also produced some 95,000 “undervotes” in Ohio, largely in Democratic stronghold precincts, because poor areas have the oldest machines, most prone to error.
    I am baffled by your argument that the aloof New Englander Kerry failed to connect with voters the way Clinton did. Clinton only managed 43 percent of the popular vote despite the aid of Ross Perot, who drew votes disproportionately from Republicans. Clinton only managed 49 percent of the vote as an incumbent facing a poor opponent and Perot once again.
    The supposedly aloof Kerry won 48 percent of the vote against an incumbent president during wartime. If he had been helped by a Perot-type candidate (prominent businessman who seems like a Republican but incessantly makes the case against the Republican incumbent), he would have won easily. As it stands, he almost won the popular vote.

  24. Kim Hartman on

    As a Colorado resident, I am curious to know why you feel that Colorado will become more like California i.e. more liberal and less like Montana. Most people in Colorado who study these matters feel that the influx of Californians in to Colorado over the last two decades has been comprised of conservative, Republican-leaning Orange County residents.

  25. Thomas on

    Colorado is becoming more like Arizona, which in turn is becoming more like California.
    And Virginia and, eventually, North Carolina will become more like New Jersey.
    But with Arkansas becoming more like Texas, and Missouri becoming more like Texas, and Iowa becoming more like Missouri, with every indication that Wisconsin and, eventually, Minnesota will follow that example, we still don’t know how it will all turn out. Or, rather, we know that Republicans are ahead, but Democrats have areas of opportunity. Short-term, we’re much closer to the Republican tide dominating than we are to a reversal.

  26. Agnes on

    Ruy, can you please comment on this critique of your book “The Emerging Democratic Majority”? I read your book and agree with the premise that Democratic leaning ideapolises appear to be the future. This concept is also explored in The Great Divide (retro vs. metro.) But if demographic trends favor an eventual Democratic majority (although that Bush drew more hispanic voters in 2004 has me concerned), will this be enough to win with a system that favors rural voters? Do you still believe a Democratic majority is possible under the current system, in light of what we have learned since your book was published? Thank you.

  27. Tom Hering on

    Was it that Kerry couldn’t talk to tractor-trailer drivers? Or was it that tractor-trailer drivers didn’t want to listen to him, because they thought Kerry was putting on a “regular guy” act (think goose hunting), rather than just being himself. I don’t think regular guys resent aloof Massachusetts types anywhere near as much as they resent fakes (or perceived fakes).
    Now, why regular guys don’t resent Bush’s manufactured persona is another question …

  28. Badger on

    Your article fails to account for the Republican practice of pandering to the cultural prejudices of the West and South. George and Laura Bush, as traditionalist Texans, are the living personification of this strategy. They have successfully exploited deeply ingrained regional prejudices. This is the third century in which the Republicans have played this card. To cite Stephen Douglas (D-IL) from his Freeport debate with Lincoln, “The moment the North obtained the majority in the House and Senate by the admission of California, and could elect a President without the aid of Southern votes, that moment ambitious Northern men formed a scheme to excite the North against the South, and make people be governed by their votes along geographical lines, thinking that the North, being the stronger section, would outvote the South, and consequently they, the leaders, would ride into office on a sectional hobby.”

  29. SteveH on

    Air America Radio, today had a report that as a result of
    findings of over-votes for Bush with e-machines the
    largest Fredom of Information Act suite in history is now
    under way. A “Blackbox Fund has also been setup to raise
    funds for futher investigations into any voting fraud that
    might have taken place with the e-machines.
    It seems that in states where paper ballots were used,
    the Exit Polls were correct. But in states were the e-machines were used the Exit Polls were the opposite
    of the e-machine outcomes.
    While I realize that it is doubtful that enough over-votes
    for Bush can be identified in order for Kerry to overtake
    Bush and be declared the REAL winner of the election.
    Now that Kerry has conceded, what would happen if indeed
    the best case scenero is realized at enough overvotes are
    shown or a re-vote is ordered and Kerry does prevale ?
    Does Kerry’s concession, prevent him from a retraction and
    being elected ?

  30. Miscsf on

    You mention in the article that Coloraodo most likely will become more like California and less like Montana. I was wondering if you could comment on Texas.
    With all the software jobs being created there and the many immigrants I hear about going there for jobs, I wonder if you have an information on how Texas is changing. Any chance you could make a prediction on if/when it will turn blue?

  31. Don in Colorado on

    Democrat Ken Salazar is not only our new Senator in Colorado; Rural Colorado also elected John Salazar to the U.S. House and Democrats became the majority in BOTH houses of the state legislature for the first time in 40 years.
    The Salazars are a fifth-generation Hispanic ranching family here, and they apparently know how to talk to rural voters.
    Colorado could become a blue state very easily if Democrats would run someone like a Wesley Clark, who likely would have won this state and perhaps a few of the southern states.

  32. Alan Atwood on

    I think there is something to be said for finding candidates that can connect with all classes of people. I also think there is something to be said for getting the Democratic Party back to being a party that knows how to fight and to stand up (LOUDLY!) for working people.
    Please see Thomas Frank’s op/ed in today’s NY Times: Why They Won
    Non-expiring link: http://tinyurl.com/5bx73

  33. Cal D on

    I find this post interesting and all but with all due respect, we already know it’s possible for even Democrats to elect a Bill Clinton. The problem is not that we don’t know that. The problem is that super-intelligent, handsome and charismatic governors with amazing political skills don’t exactly grow on trees.
    We’re obviously not the only ones who have that problem either. Look at some of the people the Republicans have been running lately.
    Kerry was a good solid candidate who would have made a great president if elected. Of the people who applied for the job, no question in my mind we made the best choice. And you can’t reasonably expect to do much better than that every time at bat. If the Republicans can elect a guy like George W. Bush, we sure as hell ought to be able to get a guy like John Kerry elected.
    I tend to want to focus more on organization, teamwork and taking back the language. No matter how good your message is, and I think ours is pretty good, you’re never going to break thorugh with it as long as:
    – right wing radicals can get away with calling themselves “conservative”
    – bigotry can be passed off as a “value”
    – tolerance is regarded as a moral failing
    – fairness is equated with weakness
    – promoting equality is perceived as giving hand-outs to losers
    Welcome to America in the 21st century. Now what are we going to do about it?

  34. Mass on

    Let me ask a question . I dont understand the fascination with Clinton.
    The man got less votes in 92 than Dukakis in 88. So he probably alienated votes somewhere else because Dukakis was not even a good candidate.
    I know I have stated this point several times now, but when I looked at numbers (and these numbers are clearly presented by John Belisarius in the previous thread), I fail to understand why you guys make so much of Clinton.
    In fact, in my view, Kerry accomplished a lot more than Clinton, and we need to understand why and what more can be done, and I am not sure Clinton is the example.

  35. Eric on

    “Massachusetts Senator John Kerry rallied a powerful coalition of minorities and college-educated professionals based in postindustrial metropolitan areas like Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles. In the future, this coalition may triumph on its own. ”
    The assumption is that these groups will increase in size. However, one of the biggest complaints about this administration is that it is gutting the middle class and making it harder for people to go to college.
    Interesting. It appears that what they are doing is purposefully destroying the country’s economy to increase their constituency.

  36. richard on

    “The Democrats need to find a candidate that can talk to both PhDs and tractor-trailer drivers.”
    It’ll never happen, but if you saw Elizabeth Edwards doing Q&A campaign stops on C-SPAN, you’d have seen that candidate.

  37. Roman Berry on

    In 2003 and early 2004 we had a candidate who could talk in plain language to both PhD’s and tractor trailer drivers. He was the only Democratic candidate in recent memory who cut to the chase and painted the broad themes of optimism and shared sacrifice that at one time were the parties callling card. He was tha candidate that all of the “smart people” said could not win but across the three states of the south that I live and do business in (Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi) he was generating quite a bit of interestet. I think then “smart people” outsmarted themselves when they worked together to bring down Howard Dean. Dean could have won. (Yes, he could.)


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