Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The 2008 elections

John Zvesper begins to consider some of the electoral strategic calculations for both parties for 2008. While it may look as though the GOP is better situated, the Republicans have to think strategically, and their victory is by no means assured. Very thoughtful. A sample: "Marginally expanding the blue states is also a desperate strategy for the Democratic Party more generally, because even more doubtful than its success would be its success having any coattails. The incumbency advantage in Congress—which for so many years protected Democrats from partisan realigning forces—now protects Republican majorities, which are therefore likely to be less precarious than at any time since they first appeared in both houses in 1994. (In state legislatures, as well, Republicans continue to hold a small majority of chambers, though Democrats made gains in 2004.)

Against this gloomy outlook (for the Democrats), there remains one often denied but reasonably undeniable fact: this presidential election was very untypical, because it was a judgement of an incumbent president’s conduct of the nation’s affairs during a war. In fact, as enemy actions and speeches attested, the election itself was part of the war."  

Discussions - 3 Comments

I didn’t include it in my essay, because I don’t know quite what to make of it, but one thing that comes out of the (CNN) exit polls, on the "vote by size of community," is that Bush increased his 2000 vote much more in cities (big cities +13, smaller cities +9) than in suburbs (+3), small towns (-9 !), or rural areas (+0). This raises the question about why there was such a decline in Bush voting in small towns. It also supports my and others’ argument that this election was not mainly a red-blue civil war battle.

Also supporting this argument is the obvious but neglected fact that there are no red or blue states or even counties, so much as various shades of purple, with the vast number of counties in the middle of the spectrum. Nicely illustrated by:

http://www.princeton.edu/%7Ervdb/JAVA/election2004/

And there is a histogram (along with various cartograms, which adjust counties and states for population) at:

http://www.research.att.com/~suresh/cartogram/

As Tina Brown found at her dinner party, there are Bush voters even in New York.

This is all purely speculation on my part, but perhaps the reason for the decline in Bush support in small towns does have something to do with the economy. I happen to think that the economy is on the mend, but I think small town industries might be slower to see the upturn and factory closings in small towns are far more dramatic than closings in bigger areas. For this reason, perhaps some of Kerry’s economic message resounded in such areas more than it did elsewhere.

Another theory is that Bush probably did rather well in these communities as a general rule, so a drop-off in his support may not mean that he did poorly there. The chart that Peter posted a few days ago showed that Bush lost some support in some typically Republican states such as Wyoming and South Dakota, yet his overall numbers there were still dominating. Perhaps this can even be attributed to Bush’s spending and the frustration that it has caused some on the conservative side of the spectrum.

As I said, all just speculation. I’d be interested to hear if anyone has any hard evidence to explain the change as well.

For further argument that "moral values" is a misleading category, and the wrong way to interpret the meaning of the 2004 presidential election, see Charles Krauthammer’s remarkes:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A44082-2004Nov11.html

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