I Told You So

November 18, 2008

By Stephen Noriega

I posted the blog on September 15th, 2008. It was right after the GOP convention, when everyone loved her. I said this was the worst pick for the John McCain campaign. Now I get to say, “I told you so” with pride, annoying volume and belligerent indignation.

sarahpalin21

Photo by The National Inquirer, distributed 2008

It came to pass quickly, Senator McCain, that your only path to winning an election was doing things that may damage you further than this campaign. Governor Palin took John McCain places that he will regret. In the heat of this contest, with veneers of anger shrouding the obvious, McCain fell into the Palin trap of off-message rants and poisonous speeches designed to illicit fear and xenophobia, not optimism or hope©.

Governor Palin made it quite clear that she wished to be an active, policy-making Vice President. This is simply a continuation of a modern trend. Starting with Richard Nixon and his ambassadorial skills, the Vice President has slowly become more important. Al Gore was often criticized for taking an excessive role in helping Clinton with policy issues. Dick Cheney took the office to a whole new level, holding secret meetings, being in charge of entire policy realms and showing a true disdain for Congress and even the voters.

Did McCain really want a powerful vice president with whom he could barely get along? Sarah Palin did not answer the third grader’s question incorrectly. She meant that she wanted to have power and influence over the Senate. Perhaps Sarah Palin is not ignorant about constitutional issues, at least compared to most other people. Sarah Palin has been an executive of larger and larger offices and she saw this as a path to even more political clout. She will certainly not be another Thomas R. Marshall (considered the laziest Vice President under Woodrow Wilson). She wanted to be another Dick Cheney. Perhaps she knows painfully little about the Constitution. This is even more frightening than a politician’s ambition. With the clothing scandal, she may end up being another Spiro Agnew, constantly messing with McCain’s authority like Agnew did with Nixon until being pulled asunder by a petty transgression. (http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oew-edwards-lichtman5-2008sep05,0,5935217.story)

It is not just Palin’s eye on power that had McCain in a bad way because of her. Palin is a politician, and politicians seek power. That is what they do. But Palin couldn’t even follow the talking points of the campaign. McCain must have developed serious reservations about how she will follow policy talking points once comfortably in Washington, D.C. When the issue of Palin’s clothes emerged as a thorn in the campaign, everyone tried to stifle the nano-scandal and move on. Not Governor Palin. She continued to defend the $150,000.00+ makeover.

Even people in the McCain campaign revolted. Anonymous rats, stinging with bitterness of being in the wrong campaign, started to take shots at the candidate with the anxious ears of the press wide open.

“She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone… She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else. Also she is playing for her own future and sees herself as the next leader of the party. Remember: divas trust only unto themselves as they see themselves as the beginning and end of all wisdom.” (CNN – 10/2008)

Palin has shown sides of this in the media view. Instead acting humble, especially after some disastrous interviews with infamous soft-ball-throwers like Katie Couric, Palin went on the offense. She spewed venom at rallies that incited the lunatic fringe of her party with never a speck of clarification or apology. When McCain saw the potential destructive nature of this, he voiced his disapproval of the personal hatred campaign, something an honorable person does. Palin apparently never got the memo.

With each bumble, misunderstanding of history, petty scandal and word of aggression, Governor Sarah Palin demonstrated how she was the worst pick the McCain campaign could have made. This is not about gender. This is not about politics or political agendas. This is about a person who did not deserve, because of a lack of competence, any consideration of such an importance office.


A Terrible Tie

October 31, 2008

By Stephen Noriega

This could possibly happen, so I’m going with it in my election predictions. It would be tantamount to betting that the top three horses in a race will fall but I think the odds are actually better than that. Due to some unusual provisions in our Constitution, this election could result in an Obama / Palin Administration. Don’t batter me with hostile question marks and laughter, yet.

McCain could surge and wins every battleground state except Colorado, Pennsylvania and New Mexico (and he has a great reputation for comebacks). The Bradley Effect could help him in certain states like Virginia, Ohio and Nevada. Voter suppression efforts could help him with North Carolina and Florida. Colorado and New Mexico have filled with liberal migrant voters and are turning blue. Pennsylvania has Philadelphia and Pittsburgh to make it safe for Obama. This would result in a 269 – 269 tie.

http://news.yahoo.com/election/2008/dashboard?name=StephenN1|content=111100000110101011100000111111000111100011111010101

So, per Article II of the Constitution, the choice for President goes to the House of Representatives. Each state has one vote in this procedure, so states with more of one party will vote along those party lines. Currently, there are 27 states with more Democrats in the House of Representatives, 21 states with more Republicans and 2 that are tied. Thus, Obama would win that vote and would become the 44th President.

However, it is not the House of Representatives that decides who is Vice President. It is the Senate. Per the Twelfth Amendment, each member of the Senate gets one vote to decide the V.P. Currently there are 49 Democrats and 49 Republicans in the Senate. One person, Bernie Williams, would vote for Biden. One Independent, Joe Lieberman, may vote for Palin as he has campaigned for the Republican ticket all along. This would result in a tie in the Senate. Guess who breaks ties in the Senate? That’s right, Vice President Dick Cheney would break the tie and Sarah Palin would be the choice.

I know there are variables even within this probability nightmare. Chuck Hagel, an occasional Democrat sympathizer could swing the vote I the other direction. Joe Lieberman might decide to abandon his love of Republicans once his friend McCain is no longer the winner.

Naturally, this scenario is remote from its inception. However, it sure is wild to even see it as a possibility. Remember, the last time there was a tie in our obsolete Electoral College, a similar coupling resulted and our first Treasury Secretary was shot to death by said Vice President (Aaron Burr) over it! Duels are illegal now but what a sitcom to have Barack Obama and Sarah Palin trying to run a country together.


My Friends, My Friends, My Friends

October 8, 2008

By Alicia Long

There were high hopes for last night’s debate between Senator Obama and Senator McCain.  With Obama widening his lead in the polls (his current lead is around 4-9 points nationally), McCain really needed this debate to help him turn the trend back into his favor.

The high hopes that McCain fans had for this second debate were justified.  Late last year, McCain had all been counted out in the race for the Republican ticket.  Some blogs even had reader polls as to when McCain would drop out (The Right’s Field had the longest running poll on this topic).  But McCain fought his way back using town hall-style meetings with thousands of New Hampshire residents all across the Granite State, and ultimately winning the January primary and rocketing his way to the Republican nomination.

Town hall meetings are McCain’s favorite way of communicating with voters, and he typically does very well in this format.  Many politicos felt that since the second presidential debate was a town hall, McCain had a good opportunity to reignite his campaign.  Unfortunately, he did not succeed.

I’m not saying McCain didn’t do well.  In fact, both Obama and McCain did well in this debate.  The popular opinion amongst the talking heads was that McCain needed this debate to be a game changer –  he needed to make a strong, new attack against Obama, or Obama needed to make a big gaffe – neither of which happened.  Both candidates stuck to their tried and true tactics and nothing really happened that made the performance of either candidate stick out.

This is not good for McCain.  This debate retained the status quo for voters, so one could argue that Obama “won” the debate.  Not because he did anything special or made better points than McCain, but simply because he came out of this debate the same way he came in… ahead in the polls.

CNN analysts thoroughly picked apart the debate last night.  This group is informative because it is compromised of Democratic and Republican analysts, as well as non-partisan journalists.  Overall, they rated Obama with a “B” and McCain with a “C.”  You can read more about their individual grades and opinions HERE (you can also give your personal grades through CNN’s online poll).

Just to mix things up a bit, I created tag clouds of Obama and McCain during the debate.  These tag clouds visually represent the 40 most frequently used words, with the biggest words being used the most frequently.

OBAMA TOWN HALL TAG CLOUD:

Visually, Obama definitely kept to the issues that are strong for him.  Health care, energy, and change were among the topics he kept bringing up.  Amusingly, the word he used most was “going.”

McCAIN TOWN HALL TAG CLOUD:

One thing I am not surprised to see in McCain’s cloud is the word “friends.”  I don’t think I’ve heard anyone say “my friends” so many times in 90 minutes.  This is something he says frequently in his town halls, and last night was no different.  However this came off as less of a personable remark and just became annoying after the first half hour.

Thanks for reading my post, my friends.


Palin Is Your Worst Pick

September 15, 2008

By Stephen Noriega

I have given myself pause after the convention, after the initial excitement and after the first interview to give my humble opinion on the Sarah Palin pick for Vice President. I must admit that when I first heard of the pick, I thought to myself, “What in the heck we’re you thinking?” After long deliberation and after looking at all the possible future permutations of your campaign, Senator McCain, I have just one thing to say.

What in the heck we’re you thinking?

This piece is not a hatchet job on Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin is a politician that has risen to a high office and deserves the respect of that accomplishment. This obviously will not be a worship piece on her either. Once the ether wears off and people begin to study her, they will rally to her less. Becoming the governor of Alaska is no small task. For this, Palin should be commended. As a flash of interest and short-term strategy, Governor Palin was a brilliant pick by the Republicans. However, the time of her brilliance and her reality had better be more than fifty-some days if the Republicans don’t want to be embarrassed this November.

It is silly to attack Governor Palin for being a mother and future grandmother. I couldn’t care less about that stuff. If I ever cared about anyone’s family obligations and their ability to serve, I would advocate for candidates to only have one child (in college or older) before they could run for a higher office. That just doesn’t compute. Nancy Pelosi has five children and seven grandchildren. She does just fine. This may sound harsh but I could care less (except for historical curiosity) that she is female. We have been taught that men and women should have equal chances in all avenues of life. Thus, I have no reason to like or dislike the pick based solely on gender.

There are three reasons why Palin is a horrible choice.

First, she will only solidify part the base in the end.

I know that she has induced a spike in likely female voters. This looks promising but I believe that women voters are the most educated, issue-aware segment of the voting population. When some of her stances on choice, education and health care become evident, that spike will disappear. Palin has energized the far-right base right now. However, even fellow conservative have knocked the choice. David Frum said about Palin’s experience, “Ms. Palin’s experience in government makes Barack Obama look like George C. Marshall.” Of course, Frum’s statements, the first time Obama has been compared with the author of the Marshall Plan, could be dismissed as conservative chauvinism. Not this one. Dr. Laura Schlessinger sharply criticized the Palin pick from a conservative viewpoint of female roles and the family. I could not disagree more with her position but I think it might erode at some conservative voters when they really start thinking about Palin’s situation. McCain might think he can strip away some PUMA voters. This group is like any typical protest voting block. Andrew Dice Clay could be McCain’s pick and the PUMA’s would still vote for him because of how Obama treated Hillary. Thus, Palin does not do much to pick up votes there.

Some of Governor Palin’s conservative credentials will simply not pan out. She claims to be an enemy of earmarks, rebuking the Bridge to Nowhere and bragging about Alaskans building things for themselves. The truth, well-known now, is that Palin initially supported the Bridge to Nowhere.

News.Spreadit.org, 9/2008

The truth about earmarks and Alaska is simple. Alaska receives more earmark dollars per capita than any other state in the union. According to Mark Murray of MSNBC, Palin as Governor requested hundreds of millions in earmarks every year. Fiscal conservatives would not be happy to know this. Social conservatives may not be super happy to know that she smoked marijuana when it was legal in Alaska (Anchorage Daily News, 8/6/2006 – http://dwb.adn.com/news/politics/elections/governor06/story/8049298p-7942233c.html). Of course she said she didn’t really like it and certainly does not currently use it because it would be a bad influence on her kids. Religious conservatives might be in love with Palin now. However, when some of her church stuff gets out there, some might hesitate. Some clips from the Assemblies of God Church in Wasilla seem to imply that Alaska has a special role to play in evangelizing the world. The evangelists in Missouri that believe the rapture will begin in Jefferson City might have a real problem with that! But seriously, she might be put in a position to renounce something her church says and then the Right might start to peel away from her. Some of Palin’s political stances will totally line up with the far-right of the Republican Party. However, the Political Middle and the GDI (God Dang (another word) Independents) will not eventually be comfortable with her stances. She has an absolute stance on abortion. She believes it should not be legal in cases of incest or rape. Governor Palin also believes that intelligent design should be taught along side evolution in schools. According to On The Issues (http://www.ontheissues.org/Sarah_Palin.htm ), Governor Palin strongly favors teacher-led prayer in school. I’m sure that is under the assumption that the teacher will lead the students in a Christian prayer! The independents will become less and less likely to follow her. America is often characterized as center-right. The center will not subscribe to these beliefs in the end.

The second reason Governor Palin is a poor choice is her inexperience. I concede that experience is not the main characteristic necessary for getting elected and even being a successful president or vice president. However, sometimes inexperience has a dreadful outcome. For every John F. Kennedy there is a Jimmy Carter. As far as inexperienced Vice Presidential candidates, for every Harry S. Truman there is a James Stockdale.

Dan Quayle was questioned on his apparent inexperience even tough he had been elected twice to the U.S. House and twice to the U.S. Senate. Dan Quayle ended up serving as a perfect Vice President, at least for Saturday Night Live and the pototo(e) industry. Barack Obama is getting shelled constantly on the experience question. This is a valid argument. It is an argument of strength for McCain. However, he turns around and selects an inexperienced running mate. The campaign hid this inexperience through rehearsed speeches and catch-phrases. However, in her first, edited, fairly easy interview, Palin showed her inexperience through rote answers and she showed her ignorance by simply not knowing what the Bush Doctrine was. The legitimate press will tear at her experience like the tabloids will feast on her daughter’s pregnancy. She will either have to avoid shows like Hardball, Meet the Press and Face the Nation or hope that she is an incredibly fast study on matters she has never had to worry about.

There were other, more experienced women from whom to pick. Senators Olympia Snowe and Kay Bailey Hutchinson are respected Republicans. I know, I know, John McCain needs a non-senator. How about Elaine Chao, the Secretary of Labor? She has great experience and has helped with overtime reform. Perhaps McCain feels he needs a true executive. How about Governor Jodi Rell from Connecticut or Governor Linda Lingle from Hawaii? Lingle is a Republican Governor in an extremely Democratic state, with an approval rating of 71%! All of these women have more experience than Palin.

The third reason this is a bad choice is that Palin totally outshines McCain. One of the funnier lines on Saturday Night Live was, “The race is tightening up. McCain now finds himself only six points behind Sarah Palin.” (SNL – 9/13/2008)

Palin is on the cover of TIME, Us Magazine, People, The National Enquirer, etc. She is everywhere. Aliens, foreigners and those who spend most of their lives in caves know Palin but not McCain, the twenty-six year veteran of the Senate. Sarah Palin is a huge media phenomenon right now. Pictures of them together look Palin look even better, and McCain even older.

Newsbusters.com, 2008

However, if her star fades, McCain will have no comparable light to keep the attention on him. If Palin had accomplished something outside Alaska, her brilliance would be less vulnerable to a press that likes watching heroes fall even more than falsely giving rise to them.

Now I know that everyone is currently in love with Sarah Palin. She is looking like the smartest V.P. pick since Thomas Jefferson. I know that the polls have bumped in her and McCain’s favor. Reality and Saturday Night Live will have something to say about Palin and McCain. The reality is that home foreclosures are still destroying the housing market. The Dow Jones just sank 500 points in one day. Hurricane Ike might result in gas going up from the imagined affordable level of four dollars a gallon. Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy. All three American auto makers are teetering on the verge of oblivion. Unemployment is at a five year high. Inflation is rising while relative income is shrinking. These are not Democrat talking points. These are economic facts that could become Teflon coated spears for the shiny object – Palin and her older sidekick McCain.

If reality doesn’t work, and it doesn’t always for voters, the LIBERAL MEDIA might. The LIBERAL MEDIA might start asking Governor Palin about things beyond her personal story in an attempt to discover if she is truly qualified to be president just in case a 72 year-old man doesn’t make it through a rigorous presidency. Ever see how fast presidents age? Tina Fey will do her best to satirize Governor Palin. This may seem small but I remember how Chevy Chase ‘framed’ Gerald Ford. People may not listen much to CBS and the New York Times but many do listen to SNL, Colbert and Stewart.

John McCain, you once said about Iraq that you would rather lose an election than see our country lose a war. Are you now ready to lose an election in order to win an election? We’ll see if your pick was insane genius or desperate politics soon enough.


Schaffer Versus Udall: Clash of Negatives

August 28, 2008

If this wasn’t a presidential election year, this one could be put on pay-per-view. Bob Schaffer, with oil and gasoline exuding from his pores, clashes with Mark Udall, spotted owls flying from his nostrils. One is a fascist. The other is a communist. They are both faithful, poison-tipped spears from the far right and left. Both of these fine demons from different hells will fight until humanity is annihilated just so they can get elected to the U.S. Senate.

In many senate campaigns, one can hardly tell the difference between Democrat and Republican. Ken Salazar demonstrates this all the time. As candidates dance to the middle to get elected, they hide from their extreme bases and their core beliefs. This will not be happening in the Bob Schaffer – Mark Udall Armageddon, I mean Election. Colorado will have a wild choice to make. Some will call this a Hobson’s Choice because of the extremes to choose from.

So far, the campaigns have spent over 8 million dollars in negative advertisements (Michael Riley – Denver Post, Public Ad Buy Information – 8/22/2008). By the last total on Friday, August 22nd, the anti-Schaffer forces have spent 2.68 million. The anti-Udall forces have spent 5.95 million. For a senate race in Colorado, that is a whole lot of character assassination!

The Schaffer camp wants to paint Mark Udall as a deep ecologist, willing to let American children starve rather than drill next to a couple of caribou and gulf water shrimp. They want to show him as a flip flopper and an absentee legislator.

The Udall camp wants to frame Bob Schaffer as a hired mercenary for the oil companies, hoisted up into this campaign to make sure that Colorado’s beauty is strip-mined of its shale and that Exxon-Mobile can ravage the earth with impunity.

Now these are 527 hench-groups, with some of their own agendas and freedom to be looser with the truth. However, the messages are not being renounced or forbidden. The war is on. Schaffer and Udall have already met in debate. Schaffer successfully cornered Udall to promise he would keep Congress in session until an energy bill regarding offshore drilling was ironed out. Udall’s plane was late getting back to Washington and he was blamed for ruining the lives of millions of people.

This is only the taste of things to come. Bob Shaffer is an admirable and terrifying debater. Many people in Colorado politics remember how he disemboweled a rather highly regarded but political inexperienced Pete Coors in a primary contest. T.R. Reid wrote it well how Schaffer outplayed his fellow Republican:

In a debate, the wily Schaffer demanded to know whether Coors agreed with Paul Martin on U.S.-Canadian trade. Coors fell right into the trap. “I’m not sure I know who Paul Martin is,” he said warily. Schaffer pounced: “A U.S. senator needs to know who the prime minister of Canada is.”

-T.R. Reid, The Washington Post, 7/25/2004

In a debate meant to address energy issues, Shaffer pulled a great debating trick over Mark Udall on the Iraq question. He quoted one of Udall’s pre-Iraq statements that was pro-invasion. The crowd exploded with cheers and boos. The anxious mediator implored the crowd to stand down. The war continued.

Udall gave an answer but Schaffer won this joust, knocking Udall off his horse. Udall’s campaign will be wise to avoid too many rounds with the debater from hell. He will have to rely on his personal appeal and on Schaffer’s attachment to oil companies. The environmental 527’s have done this well, highlighted, in my opinion by a well-designed commercial from fingerprintbob.com and the League of Conservation Voters.

This fight will be energetic because it plays to two sides of Colorado culture, both wanting more power than they have. Bob Shaffer represents true conservatives. Mark Udall represents true liberals. They have to get nasty to influence those in the middle. Believe it or not, most people in Colorado want energy independence and a protected environment. Most people in Colorado are more reasonable than the ads that have played and that will come. The winning candidate may very well be the one who convinces Colorado voters that the other is farthest to the extreme, whether it is to the left or the right. The war will continue.

Stephen Noriega


Is Biden Good for McCain?

August 28, 2008

So now that the Democratic National Convention is in full swing, buzzing with promising speeches, celebrities and well-meaning anarchists, let’s talk about the Republican. John McCain, and the rest of us, now knows who the vice presidential candidate will be. Barack Obama announced Joe Biden as his running mate at 3:00 in the morning (Saturday) in a texting blitz to his closest trillion followers. Joe Biden is an interesting and strategic pick for Obama. Biden’s acceptance speech at the DNC was serviceable, almost paling in comparison to his touching biography and introduction by his son, Beau Biden. Joe Biden looked really happy to be the candidate for Vice President and his energy and smile looked younger than his years. For McCain, there are openings to go at Biden as a VP choice but some serious pitfalls as well.

AP Photo by Charles Rex Arbogast – 8/7/2007

Joe Biden is a seasoned senator and politician with decades of experience in Washington. This length of experience is jaded less by the fact that he really seems to be a good, Catholic family man, avoiding the personal scandals of many of his colleagues. Joe Biden is a gray haired (Hair Club for Men?) sage character with plenty of spring left in his step and lots of wind left in his lungs.

That is where McCain can get him. Joe Biden has probably said more words while in the Senate than any other politician. Ever. He is famous and infamous for his verbosity which at times has run him afoul of the press, the people and even his own party. Some patience should be required but Biden will probably say some things that get him in trouble. He will know how many houses he owns but he will also end up offending the Realtor Association and immigrant house contractors.

Gary Markstein, Copley

McCain shouldn’t think that one episode of Biden’s foot-in-mouth disease will carry him through to the election. Biden is quite capable of apologizing for remarks (something he has had to do many times) and his friendly charm gets him forgiven quickly, often within a news week (Monday at 8:00 to Friday at 3:00)

Another caution McCain should take is not to extrapolate Biden’s loose tongue and treat him like a dolt. Actually, McCain has known Biden since the beginning of the Triassic and he will not underestimate him. If his campaign does, they will pay the price. Joe Biden is an expert on international affairs. He talked about the federalism of Iraq before others and worried about Afghanistan when most eyes were still in Baghdad. His acumen and experience might make him an insider but he is a very capable compliment to Obama’s fresh look and perceived inexperience. Biden is a classic lawyer and has kept his debating knives sharp and serrated for any unprepared schmuck that might face him on television in the fall.

The McCain campaign must use four things against Biden to neutralize him as an effective vice presidential candidate.

  1. Biden’s mouth.
  2. Biden’s time in government.
  3. Biden’s plagiarism trouble in the past.
  4. Biden’s hair (for radio pundits only)

We have already discussed his mouth, so just wait and play when he oververbosifies.

Joe Biden won his first election to the Senate in 1972, making him one of the most senior members. He sits on very prestigious committees, like the Foreign Relations Committee. Sometimes this is good to demonstrate experience. This can also be held as a walking symptom of government that does not work, crushed by the weight of career politicians. At the same time, McCain must be painted as the Maverick or else the same argument can be hoisted upon him

Joe Biden “borrowed” a speech written by a British politician (Neil Kinnock) in 1987 during his first presidential campaign. That pretty much ruined his run at the white house (http://www.famousplagiarists.com/politics.htm). In his first year in the Syracuse Law School, Biden was accused of plagiarism on a paper. He was not disciplined as far as the records indicate but the suspicions can carry their own weight (http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2008/08/joe_bidens_plagiarism_problem.html).

This can be brought up again to erode at his credibility, especially if he happens to give a great speech. The attack dogs can wonder out loud, “Geez, I wonder where he got that one?”

Biden has some interesting hair. He is obviously bald when viewed from the back. However, he had a nice, gray bird’s nest in front. Who knows if those are plugs or a runaway comb-over or what. The official campaign should leave it alone but if any intelligence comes in about bit, it should be disseminated to the Limbaugh network. The comedian/pundits will tie the comb-over in with insincerity and “follicle plagiarism” if they can.

The McCain campaign should not go after him as an elitist or some rich guy with a trophy wife. Joe Biden has a very good reputation for working for the common person and less wealthy groups. He also championed the National Domestic Violence Volunteer Act in 2007 (Huffington Post, 2007), something that McCain and others voted against. Joe Biden lost his first wife and daughter in a car accident in 1972. He remarried after an appropriate time of mourning in 1977. Joe Biden goes to church, for real. His wife is attractive, but not right out of high school (Thompson) or looking like she’s worth 300 million dollars (McCain).

Dr. Jill Biden – flickr.com

So McCain can neutralize Biden but must be smart about it. Joe Biden could be a valuable asset for Barack Obama. If he can keep his feet on the floor and out of his mouth, his value rises past any strategy on McCain’s part. If he does slip, then his other faults can be exploited and the McCain campaign can drag Obama down by the tongue of his vice presidential pick. So far, in five and a half days of campaigning, he hasn’t left an opening for the McCain camp.

Stephen Noriega – The McBeat


Demographic Disaster for the GOP

August 4, 2008

The Disappearing Republican Voter

Ronald Reagan dreamed of turning the GOP into America’s permanent majority—but his dreams were designed for a different time, a different people.

Republican voters are disappearing. The Republican Party built its power on the white vote, the church-going vote, and the male vote. But each of these groups are shrinking as a share of the electorate, while groups with little taste for the GOP are exploding. Consider the chart below: voter groups colored red tend to vote Republican for president, while blue colored voting groups are Democratic—sometimes by immense margins (for complete 2004 data, see CNN exit poll archives).

Which of these sets of voting blocs are shrinking and which are growing? It’s quite basic—whites, men, and weekly church goers are all shrinking as a share of the electorate every year. White, weekly church going men are shrinking fastest of all. And there’s the heart of the problem for the GOP

A demographic disaster awaits the Republican party. Barack Obama represents a fundamental transformation in the American electorate. The GOP majority built on white, church-going men is collapsing as new voters reduce the Republican party to the status of bewildered minority.

GOP Struggles with Southern Strategy Legacy

It was back in the 1960s that the tectonic plates of today’s electoral landscape were forged when the two parties took their stands on the politics of the day. The Democratic party stood with the civil rights movements, with the rising force of feminism, and with a “counter-cultural” vision of a non-religious state.

On the other hand, The Republican Party followed what Nixon called a “southern strategy.” Republican strategists measured the demographics and concluded that they could stand with the white south against civil rights, with patriarchs denouncing feminism and with evangelicals defending the role of Christianity in schools and in public life—GOP leaders concluded back then that such a strategy would win elections.

One of the architects of the southern strategy, key Nixon advisor Kevin Phillips, described the GOP’s strategic choice to repudiate black voters and welcome southern whites back in a 1970 New York Times interview (James Boyd, May 17, 1970, “Nixon’s Southern strategy: ‘It’s All in the Charts,'” The New York Times).

“From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don’t need any more than that… but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.”

Following a 1981 interview with Lee Atwater (another key Republican advisor, and Bush the First’s campaign manager), New York Times reporter Bob Herbert summarized the heart of the GOP’s continued reliance on the “Southern Strategy.”

“The truth is that there was very little that was subconscious about the G.O.P.’s relentless appeal to racist whites. Tired of losing elections, it saw an opportunity to renew itself by opening its arms wide to white voters who could never forgive the Democratic Party for its support of civil rights and voting rights for blacks.”

Today’s Diverse Electorate Going Democrat

The southern strategy might have worked back then, when whites were 90% of the electorate, and male and rural churchgoing voters outpaced their counterparts. But today, The “Southern strategy” electorate has become a minority, and the most rapidly growing groups are voting Democratic.

In the 2006 elections, 69% of Latinos, 57% of women, 90% of blacks, 60% of voters under 29 and 57% of independent voters voted Democratic.

Today, only 2% of all GOP voters are Latino. Only 1% of Republicans are Black. Barely 15% of GOP voters are under 35. The GOP is built on an aging, dying electoral coalition.

Chart Source: http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB118895742058917747.html?mod=blog

When Obama rolls into town, the largest demographic in American history will be people aged 18-29 (see previous posts on “Millennials Rising” and “The Obama Generation”)—and they will vote Democratic in record shattering numbers. The Latino vote will be the largest in American history—and it will be about 70% Democratic. Women and Black voters will be in Obama’s camp.

Newsweek’s Michael Barone and other observers have made the counter-argument that demographics are actually tilting in the Republican party’s direction, by pointing to the fact that red states that tend to lean Republican in their presidential votes are growing more rapidly than blue states, and that they will therefore receive more electoral college votes (and seats in the House of Representatives) following the next U.S Census.

Here’s the list of states that are predicted to gain and lose House seats and Electoral College votes following the 2010 Census.

But this kind of analysis misses the possibility that pro-Democratic demographic transformation that may be sweeping through these traditionally red and blue states, just as it is the rest of the country. Some red states like Utah and Texas are likely to remain reliably Republican. But “red” states like Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina and Arizona are brimming with new Latino voters, increasingly educated “creative class” voters, and other such demographic changes that point the states towards the Democrats—not the Republicans.

Facing demographic disaster in 2008, the Republican party may pursue new variations on the Southern strategy, trying to maximize the ever-shrinking conservative white vote. Expect familiar demonization of immigrants, tired broadsides against black welfare-queens, and continual Rush Limbaugh denunciations of femi-nazis and gays as destroying the American way of life.

In the short run, The GOP can count on the old Southern strategy to keep its grip on white, male, frequent churchgoers—but the problem for the GOP is that these same voter groups are losing their grip on America.