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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Inside the “Wave,” and Why Bloggers Don’t Like Hillary

I’m about to do a series of posts about the YearlyKos conference in Chicago this weekend (having chosen against weekend blogging, which hardly anyone was going to read).
It was quite an event, aside from the presidential forum on Saturday. The most frequent comment I heard, uttered by confirmed Kossacks and more mainstream types alike, was that the conference reflected the maturing of the netroots from an anguished collection of self-conscious outsiders into an accepted constituency group (overlapping with many others) of the Democratic Party. The focus was less on intra-party disputes than on the question of how to win in 2008. And the atmosphere was more ecumenical and less left-triumphalist than I expected. These are all relative terms, and I’m not suggesting all or even most of the participants have lost their edge, for good or for ill. But the whole thing felt like a normal and healthy Democratic gathering–with about 800 laptops. (I’ll mention a few stranger moments as I go along).
As indicated in my Friday post, the first thing I attended in Chicago was a panel on public opinion. If you read the previous staff post about Democracy Corps’ latest strategy memo, you’ll get a sense of what Stan Greenberg had to say: the basic dynamics of public opinion going into 2008 are actually better than those Democrats enjoyed two years ago. Indeed, said Greenberg, the deterioration of Bush’s approval ratings and the intensification of “wrong track” sentiment has accelerated more since 2006 than it did between 2004 and 2006. All seven of the targeted Republican Senators up in 2008 have terrible “re-elect” numbers. And given the very strong position of the “Class of 2006” of House Democrats, and the persistent vulnerability of many Republicans, additional House gains look plausible as well.
On the same panel, Mark Blumenthal, a.k.a., the Mystery Pollster, focused on the Democratic presidential nominating contest, and stressed the exceptional volatility of public opinion in the pre-primary period, with John Kerry’s astonishing rise in 2004 being just one of many historical examples. One particularly interesting nugget he offered was the hypothesis that Iowa and New Hampshire’s impact represents an inchoate feeling that voters there have paid greater attention to the candidates than those in “later” states, and essentially serve a vetting process for the rest of the country.
In the Q&A after this panel, one audience member asked about the disconnect between Hillary Clinton’s popularity among rank and file Democrats, and her lack of support in the blogosphere. Chris Bowers jumped on the question with encyclopedic thoroughness, going through the demographic characteristics of progressive bloggers (disproportionately white, male, upper-income, self-identified liberal, and secular) and concluding: “If the Democratic electorate looked like the blogosphere, Hillary Clinton would be in big trouble.”

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