Thursday, February 17, 2005

Keeping It Real Politik: Long-term Trends, Long-term Hope for Dems?

Howard Dean, the new Democratic National Chairman, inspires grassroots support and brings new people into the democratic process. He has been innovative in the use of technology, raising money, and political organization -- all vital parts of the DNC position. Further, he was a successful Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association when he was the Gov of Vermont.

I think Howard Dean will do a great job as DNC. But the overall situation points out that the Dems really can't do much worse than they have over the last six years (dating to the '98 midterm elections) and trends show they're likely to make gains in the future.

The not-so-secret secret is that the Democrats are about as down right now as it is possible for them to be. They've already been nearly knocked out of the South (outside of highly urban areas) and redistricting in places like Texas have now taken all the toll intended.

Now the good news: immigration patterns, demographics, and population growth foretell Democratic success in the future, not failure.

In presidential politics, the GOP may hold a nearly unbreakable base in the Mountain West and South at the moment, but the Dems have a solidifying blue hold on the Northeast, West coast, and important states like Illinois and Michigan. Not so long ago, California and Illinois were considered battleground states, but no longer.

Add to that recent Democratic victories in bright red states such as Kansas, Montana, and the not as red Arizona, and the long-term outlook becomes very interesting. In fact, it's quite possible that the Southwest could become a major battleground in '08 and beyond. The Midwest has kind of settled into Michigan/Illinois for Dems, Ohio/Indiana for the GOP, with Wisconsin and perhaps even Minnesota as the remaining battlegrounds there.

A tiny shift in voting in the Southwest -- say, if Arizona and Nevada shift firmly blue, let's say -- the entire national picture is altered dramatically.


The Sore Loser said...

I don't know much about the demographic shifts, but I think that the Republicans are very close to shooting themselves in the foot (especially if they pass social security reform). If the democrats run a competent bubba (i.e. someone not from the Northeast) in 2008, they should do fine.

Eric Berlin said...

Please elaborate on the shooting in the foot. And how would passing SS reform help?

Who's your bet for competent bubba? Edwards, Mark Warner of Virginia, Wes Clark?

The Sore Loser said...

I just think that the Republicans are going to crash and burn. Their budget busting policies are going to lead to financial deterioration (they already are). And if SS reform is passed, then they'll really feel the heat when seniors abandon them because of reduced benefits. But "unfortunately" that won't be for at least another 10 years.

The Sore Loser said...

Oh, and I think Edwards makes for a fine Bubba. Clark is a bit too stiff for my tastes, and I really don't know much about Warner.

Eric Berlin said...

I think it will take a major hit to people's pocket books to really take a toll on the GOP's '06 and '08 chances. People just don't care about deficits right now. Howard Dean is brilliant in saying that the Democrats are the party of balanced budgets. I hope that it will bite at some point, but I'm skeptical.

You've mentioned that Edwards will allow the Dems to do "fine." But do you think he can capture the nomination? There will be a number of heavyweights and up-and-comers going after it in '08, and Dems will be hungry to anoint a "sure" winner.

My bet's on Clinton to capture the nomination (thought it's ridiculously early still).

The Sore Loser said...

I'd bet on Edwards right now. Hilary is too polarizing, and the Dems are desperate for a win. They won't take a chance on someone as unpredictable and caustic as Hilary (though I recently read an article which claimed that Hilary's negatives are way down -- at least in NY). So who do you think are the "heavyweights" that could wrest the crown from Edwards?

Eric Berlin said...

Certainly Clinton's at the top of the list. She's already making a strong move to capture the "center." Hers will be a strong DLC-model move based upon her husband's success. With Bill in her corner, I can't believe that her critics aren't taking her more seriously to go all the way.

Who else? Kerry, if he decides to run again, will be a force, though how big is very hard to say. He could help to play king (or queen) maker, however.

Finally, Bill Richardson may be formidable. The Southwest (and Latino) vote will both be important battlegrounds. I believe the most fertile territory for Dems to "flip" blue is in the Southwest (Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico) and Richardson would be the perfect candidate to lead that charge. He's got an incredible resume, with only a questionable period as Sec of Energy (I believe) that the GOP will of course use to let the dogs out on.