Progressive Majority Rising

From the start of the 103rd Congress in 1993, to the start of the current, 109th Congress in 2005, Democrats lost 56 seats to Republicans (source). Interestingly, their losses have been geographically symmetrical: 28 of the seats lost have come from within the eleven states that once formed the Confederacy (from 77 to 49), and 28 of the seats have come from the other 39 states (from 181 to 153). In another occurrence of that same number, the Cook Political Report currently lists 28 seats as either toss-ups, or as leaning toward a shift in party control. All 28 of these seats are held by Republicans. Only six of those 28 seats, FL-13, FL-16, FL-22, NC-11, TX-22, and VA-02, are in the eleven states that once formed the confederacy.

One thing few people ever bother to point out about the 1994 Republican takeover of the House of Representatives is that "the South" never lost control. Democrats still have a majority of non-southern seats in the House of Representatives, just as we had before the 1994 election. Although it happened to little fanfare, Democrats re-took their non-southern majority in the elections of 1998, and have never lost it since (although it was tied from January of 2003 until February of 2004). However, when the south switched to majority Republican control in 1994, Republicans took over Congress. Whatever transfer of power took place between the two parties in 1994, the majority of the south has remained in unbroken control of the House of Representatives since 1955, the year after the Brown vs. Board of Education decision by the Supreme Court.

If Democrats win control of the House of Representatives in this election, there is basically no way that they will control a majority of southern seats. While Democrats need fifteen seats to win a majority in the house, they actually need seventeen seats to win a majority of congressional districts in the south. The Cook Political Report only lists 11 southern seats among the top 59 Democratic targets, meaning that in order to win back majority of the south this year, Democrats will need to pick up something like 75 or 100 seats. That just isn't going to happen. Thus, if Democrats win control of the house, it would mark the first time in the post-civil rights era that a party has built a majority coalition in the House without a majority of the south.

A Democratic win in the House would thus have the side effect of geographic shift of power in this country away from the South, and toward places often-maligned by conservatives such as San Francisco and Massachusetts. In fact, in addition to San Francisco's very own Nancy Pelosi becoming Speaker of the House, some of the most progressive locales and representatives of all would control committee chairs: Currently, the ranking members on 29 committees and subcommittees are CPC members [Congressional Progressive Caucus], and progressives are in line to chair at least seven committees if the Democrats take over. Rep. Henry Waxman (Calif.), the ranking member on the Government Reform Committee, is a progressive, as are Reps. Charlie Rangel (N.Y.), the would-be Ways and Means chairman, and Barney Frank (Mass.), the ranking member on Financial Services. New York City, San Francisco, Boston, Hollywood--these would be the new seats of power in the House of Representatives. That sort of blue state and blue district domination of power will be made possible largely because most of the incoming seats for Democrats will not be in the south, and because no matter what happens in this election, Republicans will maintain a comfortable lead in southern congressional districts.

This geographic shift has brought with it an ideological shift in the Democratic Party, as the southern majority has always been a conservative majority (despite several clear exceptions among some southern reps). While both the Blue Dog and New Democratic Caucuses in the House are shrinking, the Progressive Caucus is expanding in size. In fact, the Progressive Caucus, with 62 members, is almost the same size as the Blue Dogs and New Democrats combined, which boast 63 members. If Nancy Pelosi were still in the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which she left in order to become minority leader, it would be a tie (and having the party caucus leader on your side more than breaks the tie). Only two years ago, there were 38 more Blue Dogs and New Democrats in the overall House Democratic Caucus than Progressives (source). For it to now be tied is a thunderous and rarely noted shift within the ideological center of the Democratic Party. For it to happen concurrently with a major reversal in Democratic electoral fortunes over these past two years could not be any stronger a rebuke of the notion that Democrats must move to the center, the right or the South in order to defeat Republicans. The House Democratic Caucus did the exact opposite over the past two years, and our electoral fortunes are soaring.

It could be argued that there are other reasons for Democratic improvement in 2006 other than the general progressive shift in the party. Clearly, the netroots, the Democracy Alliance nexus, and the people-powered progressive movement have provided unprecedented infrastructure support to the Democratic cause over the past two years (more on this here). Still, it can be clearly argued that the left-wing shift has not hurt House Democrats in any way, shape or form. We hold our largest lead in the generic ballot in over three decades. We have by far our best chance to retake the House since 1994. We have a good chance to take more Republican-seats than in any election since 1974. And we did it all while the House Democratic Caucus moved decidedly to the left in a short period of time.

The gains Democrats are making in this election are not the result of becoming more moderate. The gains Democrats are making in this election are not the result of doing a better job of talking to "values voters." The gains Democrats are making in this election are not coming from rebuking the party's liberal wing. The gains Democrats are making in this election are not coming from moving to the right on national security, immigration, or taxes. The gains Democrats are making in this election are not the result of recapturing "the Bubba vote." It is easy to tell that the Democratic gains in this election are not the result of any of those things, because Democrats have not done any of those things. We have, instead, built significantly improved political infrastructure, moved to the left, and rallied a broad, people-powered coalition against Republican extremism. Most importantly, unlike all the CW advice I listed above, this has actually worked. When the media starts discussing how Democrats won this election, they will not be able to honestly turn to the familiar CW they have swallowed for two decades on how Democrats must win. This will be the first post-Dixiecrat, post-Blue Dog, post-DLC, post-triangulation, post-moderation victory for Democrats in a long, long time. It will be the first victory of the people-powered progressive era. At the rate we have moved over the past four years, it certainly does not appear that it will be the last.

Tags: Democrats, House 2006, Ideology, netroots, progressive movement (all tags)



Lakoff and Partisanship

For me this really bears out the old Lakoff chestnut that everybody has progressive AND conservative tendencies to some extent - Democrats behaving like moderates or conservatives tries to tap into the conservative tendency that conservatives are better able to tap into anyway, whereas behaving like progressives actually pulls non-progressives in by activating that tendency in them.  Who'd have thought that guy who seemed like he was right would turn out to be right?

by I voted for Kodos 2006-10-10 05:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising

I think you need to consider North Carolina as part of the new "border states".  In a few years we might have to slide the voting Mason-Dixon line down below the heart of ole Dixie.

by Robert P 2006-10-10 05:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising
The changes happening around the Research Triangle area are of particulr interest. That certainly is not the "old south" at all.
by Chris Bowers 2006-10-10 07:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising

Don't forget the southern liberal intellectual tradition that we all know from the great American novels and plays. The universities in the Central North Carolina predate the RT by many years.  The good news is that the intellectual base has been a seed for economic growth which has drawn in more progressives.

What you may not realize is that there has also been a large influx of immigrants from Mexico and Central America to North Carolina. Progressives need to develop ideas that deal with immigration issues fairly and effectively.  It's a thorny problem, but it's important.

Western NC is also changing rapidly because the Ashville area has become a cultural Mecca. I'll let folks who live there tell you more in due time. The bottom line is clear. Rapid change is happening now. With new ideas that combine libertarian and progressive concepts, Democrats can build a solid base across the south. I believe that the Republican assault on our freedom is in conflict with the independent values of the south and west. The government intrusion into our lives by the Bush administration and the Republican Congress is something every southerner and westerner knows is wrong.

by FishOutofWater 2006-10-10 08:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising

You sir, are a scholar and a gentlemen.  That was an excellent review.

by Robert P 2006-10-11 08:55AM | 0 recs
Blue NC

Don't give up on NC and our progressive traditions of Sam Ervin, Terry Sanford, and Jim Hunt.  If NC-11 and NC-8 fall the way we hope they do, North Carolina will have 8 Democrats in the House to just 5 Republicans.  Of those 8 Dems, 5 could certainly be considered as Progressives:

David Price NC-4
Brad Miller NC-13
Mel Watt NC-12
Larry Kissell NC-08
GK Butterfield NC-01

Even Bob Etheridge NC-2 and Heath Shuler NC-11 could fall into the group on many issues.

And what's even better is that none of the 5 remaining GOP reps are worth a crap.  Not distinguishable in any way.  At least 2-3 of them could be vulnerable to a strong Democratic challenge in 2008.  In fact, they have legitimate Dem challengers this year, but have been overshadowed by the races in NC-11 and NC-8.  

If a true blue tidal wave develops, who knows how close these other races could be?  The Congressional races are at the top of the ticket in NC this year - we have no partisan statewide races and no statewide voter referendums.  

Only a scandal-plagued Democratic Speaker of the House is weighing down our hopes in NC this year.  But the scandal does not involve live boys or dead girls, just good old fashioned money and power, so it remains to be seen how much impact that may have.

It's a blue moon election in NC - our first since 1994. We are working to turn that tide back from red to blue.  


by Bear83 2006-10-10 09:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising

Big picture.

Democratic Governor
Democratic House
Democratic Senate
Democratic US Congressional Delegation (minimum of 7-6 in next election, although as noted below could be 8-5)
Democratic SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION (who I just met and couldn't remember why I knew her name, dammit!!!)
Democratic TREASURER

These are all the statewide offices controlled by Democrats.  The Republicans?
2X Senate (until 2008)
Ag Commissioner (3000 votes)
Labor Commissioner

That's it.

by Robert P 2006-10-11 09:02AM | 0 recs
What about Georgia & Florida?

With the growth of Atlanta and the retirement communities in Florida, both of those states are not tradtional Southern states. On the other hand, some Northern state are very "Southern" in parts: Southern Ohio or Rural Pennsylvania.

In fact, I usually feel that the Urban/Rural polarity is a better correlation to for the Northern/Southern political values.

by MetaData 2006-10-10 08:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising

Chris, I think you're giving the progressive movement a bit too much credit for the possible 2006 Democratic victory. No doubt the netroots and other progressive components have helped with Democratic infrastructure and will help return Democrats to power.

But moderate and conservative Democrats in the South and the West - hardly a liberal bastion - are still part of winning back the Congress and White House also. A big part of the victory is going to be from Republican corruption. I'm not sure that American's are necessarily rejecting conservatism and embracing liberalism with the 2006 mid-terms.

by jmstarnes 2006-10-10 06:10PM | 0 recs
Yes, a grain of salt is necessary, but...

... to the extent that this election says anything about ideology, it is telling us to take a firm stand on the progressive issues that define the party, not to move to the center. It may be that at this time the GOP has screwed up so bad that we can't help but run to the opposite end of the spectrum, but politics is so complicated that sometimes correlation is the best you can do -- we're moving left, we're fighting for something, and we seem to be winning.

I, for one, am ecstatic to see the progressive caucus dominate the left side of the aisle, and hopefully soon the entire chamber. But after the election we should take stock of who's voting how in the CPC, and how well their idea of "progressive" matches up with ours.

by msnook 2006-10-10 06:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising

True, it's not a pure progressive majority, but the progressives are driving the bus. A Congressional victory, if it occurs, would signal a massive shift leftward for this country. There really isn't any way to deny that. While some of the massive Democratic majorities had enough progressive/liberal elements to probably constitute a liberal majority, this will be the first without the Southern conservative elements in it at all.

Southern populism (with its reactionary flavor) was a strong part of the New Deal majority, but it was more of a veto-power than a true leading role.

But that political force got the leading role in the GOP majority. It was a far slimmer majority, but disciplined, and the Southern reactionary elements dominated the caucus. It was made even more reactionary by shedding the African-Americans and the Southern progressives in favor of the most reactionary and conservative Southerners of them all. And it's destroyed the GOP majority in the process, turning the rest of the country against it (along with some truly disastrous foreign policy decisions).

While it's not directly an embrace of progressive politics, it's pretty damn close. It's at least a rejection of conservative politics. I think if the Democrats wanted to do some truly progressive things on the environment, or wage laws, or health care, they could do it. Well, they could make Bush veto it, at least. And make McCain vote against it ...

by BriVT 2006-10-10 06:58PM | 0 recs
Our rosiest prospects add up to a 'liberal elite'

... (excuse the expression) in committee chairs, overseeing a Dem caucus whose political center of gravity has shifted to the right.

Look at our top 15 pickup opportunities and tally the liberal/progressive candidates. Do the same for the next 15, and the next. They ain't there.

In the Senate, out of our top 7 (or 10) opportunities, Sherrod Brown is the only contender who is arguably left of current-world caucus center of gravity.

We'll pick up more Governors, who runto the right of Dem legislators.

Yes, a power shift is a move left for the Congress, but a move right for the party. Long-term effect depends on what sticks in 2008, and how centrist our more progressive pickups in conservative districts have to play it.

For the record, in this cycle I don't see voters flocking to the D's, not for anything we did ... I see them fleeing the R's (who abandoned the center).

And the next Progressive Era still doesn't start til 2012.

by RonK Seattle 2006-10-10 07:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Our rosiest prospects add up to a 'liberal eli

In the Senate, out of our top 7 (or 10) opportunities, Sherrod Brown is the only contender who is arguably left of current-world caucus center of gravity.

Does a quavering fear of opposing torture with submission to all that is craven mark a liberal in your opinion?

Even Jim Webb lent a strong clear voice to liberal populism that would cause Sherrod Brown to faint dead away though even Webb was caught in the current illiteracy foisted on us by the DLC'ers of calling the down-and-out "middle class."  The clearest liberal expression of all is from Jon Tester with the courage to confront the loss of liberty and aggregation of power of our new god king head-on.  Anyone who cannot thrill to Tester's attack on the Patriot Act ain't no liberal nor patriot either.

Thank you so much, Chris.  Brilliant analysis.

Best,  Terry

by terryhallinan 2006-10-10 08:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Our rosiest prospect - Tester's message heard

Tester's message will resonate across America if we help spread it. Tester is a true patriot who defends liberty at home where most threatened - by Republican extremism. I have been waiting for a voice in the wilderness and I have heard it - from John Tester.

by FishOutofWater 2006-10-10 08:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Our rosiest prospects add

 let's argumento you are right, the party moving left of center rather than left of where the Republicans are (DLC type trinagulation of the last 15 years) is a leftward shift regardless of how you slice it.the fact is as I try to note below- the only thing that has held the country back from moving leftward are the social conservative issues of the South. once the south is no longer part of the caculus where does the right have a strategy for winning that does not require it to shift similar to what the torries in England have had to do? IN other words, the definitions will once again change, but they will change in the left's favor so in a sense you are right- in that moderates are being driven to the democratic party, but what type of moderates? they certainly aren't of the type coming out fo the south- which matters a lot in terms of coalition building.

by bruh21 2006-10-10 08:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Our rosiest prospects add up to a 'liberal eli
Power within the caucus is decidedly moving to the left, as evidenced by the relative fortuns of the various intra-party ideological caucuses. This will alter the behavior of all Demcorats, both incoming and not, no matter how progressive they may seem right now.

But why am I even talking to you? Hell, I'm surprised you are on this blog. You told me a while back that you never take anything I write seriously (of course, at the time, you were on the front page of dailykos and I was a lowly commenter without a blog). If what I write so utterly fails to require serious attention, I'm surprised you keep reading it.
by Chris Bowers 2006-10-10 09:07PM | 0 recs
By 'relative fortunes' you mean head counts?

I don't think you've made your case in re next years' caucus IF a Democratic tide rolls in.

Pelosi has moved right, Hoyer is solid, his chief rival (Murtha) farther to the right, Rahm will get three wishes, and the new House is more prone ot pass English-only legislation than take up tax increases.

Here you are, mindlessly mashing numbers together, ignoring contrary indications, conflating coincidence with causation. Same old smae old.

You showed your first signs of sophisticated thinking recently, even if you got the conclusions wrong. Keep up the good work.

by RonK Seattle 2006-10-10 11:20PM | 0 recs
And as long as you asked nicely ...

... I saw "Progressive Majority" in the title, and thought the post might have soemthing to do with my friends at Progressive Majority.

by RonK Seattle 2006-10-11 11:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Our rosiest prospects add up to a 'liberal eli

I basically agree with you, but I think I differ on degree. I don't think it'll be a pure Progressive Majority; I think it'll be a Democratic Majority with the progressives the largest bloc.

I do disagree about the Senate, though. Bernie will be added to that caucus, Whitehouse is pretty progressive, Tester is strongly progressive on some issues (in his populist Western sort of way), McCaskill ... well, she's pretty center of the Democratic Party. But that's a major shift nationally considering where she's from. Ford and Webb will, I'm sure, frustrate progressives endlessly from their seats in the Senate, were they to get there. They're both significantly more conservative than the center of gravity for the caucus.

Basically, I think the Democratic Party will shift very slightly left due mainly to the leadership and the gradual shedding of conservative elements over the last decade, but the big change is that now that's a majority position, leading to a true Progressive Era in the next 4-6 years (I think 2010, but 2012 coukd be right).

by BriVT 2006-10-11 03:46AM | 0 recs
d'oh! I forgot Sanders

But Jeffords and Sanders occupy the same relative rank positions in their respective bodies: Jeffords around 10th from the left in the Senate, Sanders around 50th from the left in the House.

Have to disagree on Whitehouse. Tester's an unknown quantity, but a lot of his pitch is pitched to the government-hating strain of MT ethos. Casey too darned conservative.

Both bodies shift left - no doubt about that - but both D caucuses shift right (as does the House R caucus ... not sure about the Senate R's).

by RonK Seattle 2006-10-11 12:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising
I agree with BriVT--of course there are other factors, but progressives are the ones driving the bus. Also, 2005 showed the smallest gap between liberal and conservative self-identiifers in 29 years. I expect that when 2006 is done, it will show an even smaller gap. People are indeed rejecting conservatism, largely because Bush is giving it a bad name.
by Chris Bowers 2006-10-10 07:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising et al

I agree that progressives are "driving the bus" but a Democratic victory isn't from a national shift leftward as much as a national rejection of a do-nothing, Bush rubber-stamping congress. Being more assertive is great but it doesn't signal the rise of progressive movement to power. I think the RonK Seattle is right to charactize it has a leftward shift regarding congress not the nation.

If you want to see a lasting progressive majority, it's going to have to deliver on results and not overreach. The worse thing that Democrats can do - here and in congress - is overstep the mandate the people give us on November 7th. Going too far left too quickly could do just that.

by jmstarnes 2006-10-10 08:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising et al

The biggest mistake would be to expect the media to play ball with the Dems and frame the media narrative to their advantage.  Given a victory.. and that's still an if... Dems should not expect any allies in the media.  The frame will be what the Republicans want it to be.  

It will take a while for the CW and media to change.  Dems should realize this now and strategize accordingly.

by wintersnowman 2006-10-11 07:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising

Good job Chris - I'd feel a lot better if I thought we'd win Connecticut...

by Karatist Preacher 2006-10-10 06:14PM | 0 recs
great piece

I think it's important to separate the two things you are doing here:

1. you are highlighting a potential major geographic shift in the make up of the majority in the House of Representatives: it's "geographic power base" and spell out what that means for national politics.

2. you are making a point about how that shift relates to ideology.

For me, point 1 is stronger.

Moving the geographic power center away from the South has huge repercussions. In that regard, this essay is a HUGE wake up call to the possiblities present in November's election.  Great piece.

by kid oakland 2006-10-10 06:31PM | 0 recs
Re: great piece

Doesn't shifting the power from the South to the other regions also mean a shift from social conservatism? Other parts of the country are conservative, but none are from what I understand as socially conservative in terms issues the South.

by bruh21 2006-10-10 06:41PM | 0 recs

I've always thought that the most interesting tactical move/question...if the GOP went down this fall...would be how the 2008 GOP hopefuls: McCain, Huckabee, Romney, Alexander, Giuliani...would take up some kind of "New Republican" mantle:

Good Government, a return to fiscal conservatism (whatever that can mean now), and try to stitch together something out of the social conservatism...maybe, as you imply, rebrand it away from the South.

How the Democrats brand a victory, seems to me to be  critical.  Which is why I wrote for an era of good governance.

by kid oakland 2006-10-10 07:12PM | 0 recs
Re: dunno

I think it would be difficult for the Republicans to create some kind of DLC type approach of triangulating with its Southern base, and addressing the other regional approaches to politics such as the West, SW or NE or NW. I think frankly they have boxed themselves into a bad spot electorally over the next few election cyles. The only way they can win is if the social conservatives decide to let them slide on the social conservative issues, but frankly, that would make no sense because they are drawn by only stuff like abortion and gays to the Republicans. Without that- the house of cards I think falls. Most of the social conservatives are really at base moderate economically- so why would they want to lose their grip on what matters to them - the social conservatism and to obtain an economic position that is against their interest?

by bruh21 2006-10-10 07:20PM | 0 recs
Re: dunno

So why did Roy Moore fail so badly? Was it because the social conservatives felt that they needed Republicans who could hide the pandering to get things done?

by MNPundit 2006-10-10 09:31PM | 0 recs
Re: dunno

Republican Governors can triangulate ... indeed, from the outside, it looks to me like that is exactly what the Governator has done to regain his standing. But the process of triangulating Republican Governers becoming triangulating Republican Senators is a slow moving affair, not something to look for over the next two years.

In the People's Chamber, there will still, of course, be a Conservative Democratic wing in the House. After all, under Bush's leadership, the Republican Party has turned its back on Goldwater Conservatism. So, in a two party system, they have to become Conservative Democrats to get into office. Which means that the progressive caucus, even if it dominates leadership, will have to learn a whole new type of architecture for constructing progressive programs, if they want to put together programs that will attract the willing support of the Conservative wing.

by BruceMcF 2006-10-11 07:28AM | 0 recs
Re: dunno

Yeah.. there's no point in changing your ways until you lose one.  If it's working.. don't fix it.  At least that seems to be the CW with Republicans.  Until they lose the Presidency, I think you'll see more of the same.

by wintersnowman 2006-10-11 09:10AM | 0 recs
Re: dunno
Moderates have been so thoroughly beaten out of the Republican party, that if it becomes CW that Republicans need to become moderates, they won't have anyone to turn to. In the end, they will become trapped inside the same base that brought them to power in recent years. The conservative movement becomes its own prision.
by Chris Bowers 2006-10-10 07:32PM | 0 recs
Re: dunno

Also, I seem to remember Kos writing a few months back that this election cycle isn't even suppose to be the best cycle for Democrats in terms of the Senate. The real realignment won't really start happening until 2008 due to which of the 33 Senators will be up for reelection- how does that fit into this calculus of region realignment, and a shift from southern style conservatism to something more moderate to left leaning?

by bruh21 2006-10-10 08:22PM | 0 recs
Re: dunno

Yes the conservative movement has painted itself into the far right corner ....but...

Progressives must have values that resonate across America not just the coastal states. Otherwise, the presidency will be lost in 2008.

by FishOutofWater 2006-10-10 08:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising

If this means we can dissolve the DLC, I will be tickled!  Of course, they exist without DNC umbrella.  Mayber we can urge challengers to their self-important aura.  But however it it's done, they must go...


by NaomiC 2006-10-10 06:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising

Yeah, I've noticed plenty of schemes tend to work when the other side drops 12 passes and commits 9 unforced turnovers.

Why don't we examine today's version against a similar thread a mere eight days ago from the same author. Here's October 10:

"...moved to the left, and rallied a broad, people-powered coalition against Republican extremism."

OK, now here's the same author on October 2: 32/926

"There are two primary reasons for the improvement of Democratic prospects in 2006 compared to other recent election cycles: Republican implosion and the maturation of the progressive movement."

"and not that we have a clear agenda (we aren't any clearer now than we were in 2004)."

Remarkable how our strategy has changed in eight days. On October 2 we don't have a clear agenda, but on October 10 it's obvious we moved to the left and that's a major reason for the current advantage.

On October 2 the GOP was imploding, the first thing highlighted. On October 10 we "rallied a broad, people-powered coalition against Republican extremism." No mention of gifts from the other side.

The progressive intrastructure, particularly on the web, has matured wonderfully and the top dogs deserve full credit. But let's not pretend it would have produced results threatening the current situation minus self-inflicted ferocity from the other side. I don't intend to be critical but it's similar to what I deal with every day in Las Vegas, handicappers suddenly brilliant when the teams they are opposing flounder, seemingly on cue. Amazing how they are scrambling for new strategy once the situation normalizes and the opponents less generous.

What happens if the GOP nominee in 2008 is not viewed as a radical extremist, and lacks an approval rating in the 30s?

The change from 2002 and 2004 to today is women. Specifically white women, including the suburban types with children. The gender gap has reopened in our favor and that's the difference. Check every crosstab. We didn't win them back as much as they got fed up with Bush and drifted back in our direction. Whether they remain in our camp determines the Democratic fate in '08 and forseeable. I'll stick with that handicap. You guys can make it up as you go along every eight days.

by Gary Kilbride 2006-10-10 06:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising
The strategy didn't change at all. The expansion of hte Congressional Progressive Caucus is one of the ways that the progressive movement has matured. However, in this article, I chose to focus on positive things Demcorats have done to win control, rather than constant Republican mistakes.

The positive things Dems have done almost all have their origin and driving force within the progressive movement. The negative things Republicans have done are gneerally inevitable. Their policies would lead to disasters. Their desire to keep power at all costs would lead to things like Foley. Those are mistakes by Republicans--thsoe are inherent to their current system of governance.
by Chris Bowers 2006-10-10 07:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising

I think its reasonably clear that the shift toward a larger progressive caucus among House Democrats has been in spite of, and not because of any deliberate strategy of the Democratic Party.

And equally clear that without the Republican Implosions, a Democratic pick up of around 15 would have been a reasonable reward for the 50-state strategy.

However, the Republican Implosions are not accidents. They are a consequence of how they have been running both the White House and the Congress and what they have been trying to do. And that is what makes recovery from the implosions so difficult for the Republicans to recover from ... what they have been in the habit of doing to overcome political troubles is the root source of their political troubles, and the fight between those who see that and insist on changing the SOP (for the sake of their own political survival) and those who insist on sticking to the SOP (for the sake of their own political survival) is likely to be a bloody one.

However, sooner or later the momentum from being the countervailing force will ebb, and the Democratic party has to start generating forward motion on its own initiative, or hand the initiative back to the winners of the strategy fight inside the Republican Party.

There is a lot that the Democratic party can do over the next two years if it wins the House with a majority of 10 or more seats ... but if it gains that majority, it has to deliver victories that both progressive and conservative Democratic candidates can run on in their home districts.

by BruceMcF 2006-10-11 07:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising

You see a lot of discussion of Nixon's "southern strategy". How the Republicans "went after" the southern white vote. Maybe I haven't been looking in all the right place, but it looks like the Southern Strategy simply meant for the Republican Party to transform themselves into the new Dixiecrat Party, with a smattering of western anti-tax libertarians thrown into the mix. And the old-line southern Dems were always big government/big corruption.

Just like the new Republican Party.

by Stoic 2006-10-10 06:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising
For 70 years, Democrats were a long-term minoirty party because they were the Dixiecrat party. The same thing can happen to Republicans if we play our cards right.
by Chris Bowers 2006-10-10 07:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising

there may well be enough for the DLC-media narrative to survive intact, for example:

*Golly! Former Republican Jim Webb beat George Allen (they'd ignore the netroots support)

*Gee whiz! Angry Ned Lamont couldn't beat centrist nice guy Joe Lieberman!

*Mercy! Bob Casey is pro-life!

*Jiminy Jillickers! Harold Ford is the new face of the Democratic Party!

*Gosh! Look at all the Iraq War veterans! That must drive the nutroots crazy!

and so on.

In other words, the MSM isn't exactly a part of the reality-based community either.

by KevStar 2006-10-10 06:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising

Lamont is on the offensive, and now within 3 points of Lieberman. I don't think your second point will hold.

by lightyearsfromhome 2006-10-10 07:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising

Well I hope you're right, but as a wise man once said, "Hope is not a strategy."

Oh wait--he wasn't a wise man...but you get the idea.

by KevStar 2006-10-11 06:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising
     Great, great, post, Chris.
     But as the Blues Magoos once sang "(We Ain't Got) Nothing Yet". This is the matrix for the November 8th article, and a vision of what we have seemingly within our grasp. But they get to hit in the ninth.
by Ron Thompson 2006-10-10 06:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising



Sorry, but I get really excited when someone mentions a killer slice of '60s garage punk like "(We Ain't Got) Nothing Yet".  I'm actually listening to the Music Machine right now as I type this.  Another appropriate song title for this discussion could be "TALK TALK"!

by HellofaSandwich 2006-10-10 10:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising
I suspect that when the data is in after the voting, it will be shown that one area where the Democrats improved wsa the Catholic vote. P.S.
by Anthony de Jesus 2006-10-10 07:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising
We won't know that for certain, beause there will not be any national exit polls.
by Chris Bowers 2006-10-10 07:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising
Yes we can. The NES will have the data to test that hypothesis.
by Anthony de Jesus 2006-10-10 09:08PM | 0 recs
Some southerners are progressives

And a lot of Southern Democrats are progressive, from a variety of ethnic groups.  Even bright!

You've done an interesting analysis; and all of us are tired of listening to Republican congress people with one of the dialects of the South dribbling from his or her chin, manifesting the abilities of a brain smaller than that found in the average fruit fly.

But truly, even thogh I live in Manhattan (as opposed to the rural Arkansas of my youth) I must warn you not to stereotype Southerners and restart the Civil War.  I remember my congressman when I was young, Jim Trimble, with great fondness.  A new Deal Democrat he fought the good fight, as a progressive Democrat representing the Ozarks plus what is now the Fayeteville to Bentonville strip until 1966 if memory serves.  He was a smart, wiley, honest man.  Ok he was eventually beaten by a slimey, dumb southern conservative, but a 30 year run fighting the good fight isn't bad.  And look carefully, there are plenty of national Democrats serving all over the South.  And not all of them have darker than the average Caucasian skins.

I remember that once Trimble showed up at a meeting of the Carroll County Historical society--it met in a basement--to tell stories of life in the old days (I was eleven).  I can't imagine that he did it to get votes that he didn't already own certainly not to impress anyone.  This is in Berryville in the Northwest part of the state, his home town that had about 2,000 people living in it then.  Our farm was about 5 miles away.

Trimble was able to duck a lot of the problems with Civil Rights legislation because there were very few persons of color living in the district at the time--I don't know of ANY in a several county radius.  But eventually the milieu caught up with him and he was out.  But again, for 30 years he fought the good fight for the little guy and against the big utilities, monopolistic railroads, and conniving corporations.  Not bad

by Reptile 2006-10-10 08:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising

Considering the terrible braking if not actively regressive effect that the south has had on American politics for, well, nearly its entire history both ante and post-bellum, one has to wonder whether the Civil War was really worth fighting for to preserve the union. Slavery would undoubtedly have ended on its own as the agrarian economy which was based upon it came undone due to the industrial revolution and foreign competition. And the rest of the country could have gotten on with the business of moving forward instead of continually battling the always ornery and one foot stuck in the past south, in neverending mourning for its gothic Faulknerian past and mint julep days gone by (not to mention 600,000 dead).

Anyway, since we cannot revisit and undo the past, but only try to learn from and escape it, I find myself utterly delighted with the very real prospect of our country and party's finally being able to overcome, even if only partly, the unhealthy drag that the old south has been on them. Let the old south wallow in the backwards and regressive muck that it still appears to revel in. Let it pat itself on the back for being so goddamn stupid and inbred. Let all the Billy Bobs and Tammy Sues and Toby Keith rednecks drive their F-150's into oblivion if not over a cliff as they give their best last rebel yells and proclaim "The south shall rise again", as they work so diligently to assure that that will never happen (on their watch at least). Let it continue to screw itself, while no longer screwing the rest of us, who have better things to do than to hold onto a discredited, pathetic, self-pitying, self-loathing, hate-filled, racist, sexist, nativist, inbred way of life and thinking that has done nothing but bring shame and pain to the rest of the country--and not a few of its own people. I say good riddance, cut them loose, and they'll only be welcome back when they've finally grown up and escaped the 19th century--while the rest of us focus on moving forward once again.

And note to all you non-redneck, non-racist, non-retarded, decent and progressive southerners, of whom I realize that there are well more than a few (may the late Ann Richards' memory be blessed). I realize that you exist, are not at all silent and passive, and have been and are doing your best to move the south and rest of the country forward, and fight injustice, prejudice and ignorance. I am, of course, not referring to you, but to those of your friends, neighbors, relatives and colleagues who fit the above description. I'm sure that you're well aware of them, and immensely frustrated with and likely embarrassed by them. And by cutting the south off, I'm not referring to you, of course, but to them. I imagine that, in your own ways, you are doing much the same. Enough is enough. It's time to move on, and complete the job that Lincoln, Douglass, Anthony, Debs, FDR, Parks and King began.

And it looks like this election might be what makes this possible once again. A new progressive era is about to begin, I believe. And not a moment too soon.

by kovie 2006-10-10 08:16PM | 0 recs
This is unproductive

"And note to all you non-redneck, non-racist, non-retarded, decent and progressive southerners, of whom I realize that there are well more than a few (may the late Ann Richards' memory be blessed). I realize that you exist, are not at all silent and passive, and have been and are doing your best to move the south and rest of the country forward, and fight injustice, prejudice and ignorance. I am, of course, not referring to you, but to those of your friends, neighbors, relatives and colleagues who fit the above description. I'm sure that you're well aware of them, and immensely frustrated with and likely embarrassed by them."

No, for the life of me I am not well aware of anybody fitting the stereotype you speak of.

And also:
Toby Keith is a Democrat.  F-150s are union-made, unlike many of those trendoid SUVs and small cars driven by urbanite hipsters and soccer/safety moms.  

by ACSR 2006-10-11 03:02AM | 0 recs
I agree about it being unproductive, but...

while Toby Keith may self-identify as a Democrat and endorse some Democratic candidates, he's still jingoistic and endorsed Bush in '04; and

F-150s still get 14 mpg. Although... 60_mpg_ford_f15.php

by NoJoy 2006-10-11 11:17AM | 0 recs
Re: This is unproductive

Yes, because the south is dominated by progressive, non-racist, non-bigoted, open-minded, politically sophisticated voters who overwhelmingly vote for Democratic candidates at the local, state and national level, which explains Bush and the GOP's poor showing there since the 60's.

Perhaps the Dukes of Hazzard stereotype I described is a bit extreme, but are you actually denying that there are an enormous number of basically stupid and unsophisticated people in the south who have very little awareness of what's going on in the country or world and basically vote for whoever their church leader or other local authority figure tells them to vote for, which in recent decades has overwhelmingly been Republicans?

I wrote this based on what I've read and seen, on voting patterns and polls, and on my father's extensive experience over the past few decades as a travelling salesman in many small towns throughout the south. He's met literally thousands of people over the years, and his opinion of most small town southerners is of being very nice, very ignorant, and very pro-GOP. Maybe they're not "stupid", but they sure vote that way.

My point was that until the sophistication level of these people goes up and they start thinking for themselves, until they stop looking up to crooks like Robertson and Bush as Jesus' own lieutenants, until they get out of their "The south shall rise again" mentality that feeds into this culture of mediocrity, we can reliably expect them to continue to vote GOP.

I didn't say that these were "bad" people, just that they weren't "smart" or "enlightened" people. And anybody who consistently votes GOP is either doing so because they're stupid, brainwashed or opportunistic. And I contend that, based on voting patterns, this certainly seems to apply to the south.

I'm tired of the desire of some Dems to "make nice" and try to pander to groups with whom we have almost nothing in common, and to the extent that we do have something in common with them (e.g. low-wage workers whom you'd think would naturally gravitate towards the Dem party), it doesn't seem to matter, as they vote for social values, not their economic and other interests. That was my point. These people appear to be lost to us for now, as even if we did dumb down our message to try to appeal to them, it almost certainly wouldn't work, and in any case it's not something that we should be doing.

And as the person who responded to you wrote, Keith was a big Bush supporter in '04. I know that he's a "Democrat", but so were Lieberman and Zell and Dennis Miller. His whole hard-drinking, pickup truck-driving, ass-kicking, bar-fighting, indoor hat-wearing, faux cowboy, good 'ole boy image is one big stereotype that he's made millions off of and which, apparently, appeals to millions of southerners. And given his support for Bush, I'm sure that it had some impact in influencing their vote. This whole "culture of stupid"--and that's clearly what it is--is dragging the south down. THAT is what I meant. And sorry if I hurt your feelings but I don't see how I'm substantially wrong.

by kovie 2006-10-11 12:34PM | 0 recs
Re: This is unproductive

"there are an enormous number of basically stupid and unsophisticated people in the south who have very little awareness of what's going on in the country or world"

There is also an enormous number of basically stupid and unsophisticated people on the east and west coasts.  I ran into plenty of them in Seattle, Chicago, and Phoenix.  And in Arcata, Missoula, Lawrence, and Moab.  And in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and New Jersey.  The south is no exception.  Neither is any other region.

"I'm tired of the desire of some Dems to "make nice" and try to pander to groups with whom we have almost nothing in common"

And I'm tired of making nice and pandering to groups with which I have almost nothing in common - i.e. are not working class but are upper middle class elitists of either the urban ironic hipster variety or the exurban SUV-and-trophy-home variety.

Also, did Toby Keith ever endorse Bush?  What I saw was an attempt by the Bushies to get him to endorse Bush and he refused, saying "it may come as a surprise, but I'm a Democrat".  He did not say he supported Kerry either but I never heard anything about him endorsing Bush.

"hard-drinking, pickup truck-driving, ass-kicking, bar-fighting, indoor hat-wearing, faux cowboy, good 'ole boy image"

Latte-drinking, New York Times reading, Birkenstock wearing, body-piercing, vegetarian freak show.

Sigh.  Bigotry knows no bounds.  Some self-styled "progressives" are among the worst offenders.

by ACSR 2006-10-11 02:43PM | 0 recs
Re: This is unproductive

So you're ok with the "hard-drinking, pickup truck-driving, ass-kicking, bar-fighting, indoor hat-wearing, faux cowboy, good 'ole boy image" image that people like Keith do their best to glamorize and which millions seems to want to emulate, and don't see a connection between this image and support for phony tough guy idiots like Bush?

Last time I checked, most of these voted for Bush and the GOP, whereas most "Latte-drinking, New York Times reading, Birkenstock wearing, body-piercing, vegetarian freak show" types voted for Democrats. Are you saying that you have a problem with that?

And I'm sorry that you have a problem relating to people who "are not working class but are upper middle class elitists of either the urban ironic hipster variety or the exurban SUV-and-trophy-home variety", but in case you didn't notice I wasn't criticizing southerners' socioeconomic status or comparing them unfavorably with that of Democrats (most of whom DO NOT fit this cliched stereotypical description but are rather working and lower middle class).

I was criticizing their politics, their lack of knowledge, curiosity or open-mindedness, their bigotry and racism, their sheeplike willingness to follow their leaders, and their refusal to enter the 20th let alone 21st century, and NOT how much they made, what they did for a living, or their socioeconomic backgrounds. Jeez.

And yes, there are such people all over the country, even here in Seattle where I live and in NYC where I grew up. But there clearly appears to be a very high concentration of them in the old south that continues to drag that part of the country down.

Who's the bigot here? I'm complaining about these peoples' politics, and, yes, lifestyles and mentalities as they relate to it, but not their racial, ethnic, religious, social or economic backgrounds, whereas that is precisely what you appear to be doing.

I may have gone a bit too far with the F-150 and cowboy hat references (although, anyone who drives or wears one of these who does not need to continues to strike me as vain and silly, as do, I'll also admit, people who affect an overly "new age" lifestyle and image a la the character played by Tim Robbins in High Fidelity). But my point was that until the sort of people who tend to vote GOP and live in the mythic past get their heads out of their asses and join the modern world, they will be out of reach for us--as will, by extension, the south, because a demonstrably high percentage of such voters appear to live there.

by kovie 2006-10-11 03:41PM | 0 recs
Re: This is unproductive

"So you're ok with the "hard-drinking, pickup truck-driving, ass-kicking, bar-fighting, indoor hat-wearing, faux cowboy, good 'ole boy image" image that people like Keith do their best to glamorize and which millions seems to want to emulate, and don't see a connection between this image and support for phony tough guy idiots like Bush?"

There is no connection whatsoever between this image and support for Bush.  And yes, I'm perfectly ok with this image.

What I'm not okay with is the Republican strategists trying to appropriate this image, for example their patently transparent misuse of terms like "ranger" and "pioneer" for their donors, nor am I okay with the handful of "progressives" who PLAY RIGHT INTO THE REPUBLICANS' FREAKING HANDS by ceding the rural white working class culture, symbols, and identity to the Republicans.  Republicans are and have always been the party of the very privileged and rich.

Does believing that we had it better in this country back when the New Deal policies of FDR and Truman were settled national consensus and not under attack; when we had a Fairness Doctrine preventing the extremist right wing from gaining more than token influence in the media; when 40% of the workplace had union representation and not 9%; and when a single entry level job was enough to support home ownership for a married couple with a kid, means living in the "mythic past"?  I have to wonder.  Blanket rejection of the past and loving change for the sake of change are the dogma of the Virginia Postrel, Julian Simon, and John Stossel wing of libertarianism, not liberalism.

by ACSR 2006-10-11 04:11PM | 0 recs
Re: This is unproductive

I'm not going to perpetuate the image and lifestyle-based aspect of this discussion as it's getting pretty silly on both sides. But I will agree with you that Democrats had made a huge mistake in essentially abandoning the working and lower middles classes in the 70's, 80's and 90's in order to cater to the more affluent and sophisticated types that have formed a large part of their support base since then. And if they ever want to become a genuine majority party again that appeals to broad sections of its natural constituency, they have got to reach out to the former groups.

However, they cannot and must not try to do this by dumbing themselves down and trying to become like phony cowboy Republicans (e.g. Howard Dean's silly folding up his button-down shirts in '04 to look like a regular guy, or Kerry's goose hunting adventure), or by pandering to them on "values" issues like abortion or religion (e.g. the way Pelosi and Hillary made those silly plaintive appeals after the '04 election in which they wore their religiosity on their sleeves). This is silly, condescending, insulting, transparent and ultimately self-defeating, because the people they're trying to appeal to will see right through the hypocrisy (they've already got their hypocrite and don't need a new set to look up to), and they will dumb down our party in the process.

Yes, we have to go after these voters, but by appealing to them on issues on which we have something in common, e.g. jobs, outsourcing, trade policy, unions, health care, education, etc., and not on "values" issues on which we're unlikely to for the forseeable future. So long as these voters are mostly anti-abortion and anti-science, and we're pro-choice and pro-science, I see no common ground there and no point in even talking about it. But so long as they continue to work like crazy to just barely stay alive, and for it receive little to no health care and horrible education, we do have entry points into getting their support.

But so long as they continue to fall for the GOP's strategy of getting them to put their "values" above their needs, it's going to be an uphill road for us tro travel. And many of these people, it seems to me, are in the south. Which is why I'm saying that, although we certainly should not abandon them, we should nevertheless focus most of our efforts towards winning over other, more progressive parts of the country and voter groups. It's ultimately a matter of priorities, i.e. of where to concentrate what will always be a limited amount of time and resources, so as to maximize both short and long-term goals. And I just don't see this group as being high up on that list right now, unfortunately.

I should also add the issue of racism, which cannot be ignored when discussing the south. Sure, it exists everywhere, but it is one of the, if not the, defining issue in the south. Always has been, and still is. And so long as white southerners continue to constitute the largest voting group there, and continue to make voting decisions based on race, and continue to stew over the Civil War (and you can't tell me that they don't, on some level, as evidenced by all those stars and bars) and desegregation and such, I doubt that they will be able to go over to our side. Nor, I believe, should we want them to. If becoming the country's dominant party once again means taking in all those white southern racists, then I'm not sure that it's worth it. Race has split the party and country too many times to risk it yet again. And, I just don't want racists in my party.

But I don't believe that we need them any longer to get back that majority, as there now appear to be enough blue, blue-leaning, or purple regions outside the old south for us to be able to gain a majority--which, of course, was Chris's point. I suspect that, eventually, we will get a lot of them back--or at least their children or grandchildren. Race will slowly dissipate as an important issue in the south, as it has slowly done in the rest of the country (but not nearly enough, of course), as will, I believe, all those phony "values" issues. And voters, even in the south, will eventually vote on bread and butter issues again. At which point I suspect that we'll see many of them come back to us. But not until then.

And I suppose that if and when this happens, if they still insist on driving those pickup trucks, wearing those cowboy hats indoors and stirring up the occasional hell, well, so long as they're with us on the important issues and stop with all the Jesus this and Jesus that, then I'll be ok with that. No bar fights or car chases though. Yeehah, gimme some whipped cream with that latte!

by kovie 2006-10-11 06:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising

Not only nonproductive but also silly. How do my Deep South relatives fit in your scheme? They have more money than they know what to do with, and they're active, fundraiser-holding Republicans because they love the tax breaks. They've got PhDs and MDs and whatnot, so they're not stupid, and they tend to marry internationally rather than locally, so they're certainly not inbred. In a lot of ways, they're the latte-sippers liberal Democrats are supposed to be, but you won't get their vote until the economy crashes and their tax breaks are worthless.

Cliches are lazy.

by joyful alternative 2006-10-12 11:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising


good post, but I think the reality is a bit more vanilla

I agree that a progressive majority is developing, but more in reaction to the extremism of the Repubs than out of some hardcore faith in progressive ideology.  In other words, rejecting rightwing extremism seems like common sense to a lot of people outside the South.  And that is a good thing.

To cement that, we need to convey common sense and adult tones once we get those chairmanships.

A generation is up for graps.  The Right has terrorized the middle.

We'll get a chance.  We need to make good.

by jwp26 2006-10-10 08:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising

pelosi's "what I will do in my first 100 hours" list indicates she gets it to's none of this let's change the world in a day stuff- just a lot of practical stuff that most voters probably already agree with such as minimum wage and student loans, etc

by bruh21 2006-10-10 08:50PM | 0 recs

I'm not sure theres anything more to this lead than the complete and utter implosion of the GOP. I agree with most of you claims but there really isn't much here to support that. Sure we're not losing despite being further to the left- but I think we could probably advocate any ideology we wanted and still win against this incarnation of the Republican Party.

by js noble 2006-10-10 09:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising

Chris, will you be doing any kind of postmortem analysis after the election to review how progressive candidates did relative to establishment DSCC/DCCC/DLC candidates?  Not just wins and losses, but whether they underperformed or outperformed recent historical Dem performances in each state/district?

That may be too much work; I would just like to see some kind of concrete evidence we could point to to tell the Democratc establishment that their plan isn't working, and ours is.

by Eli 2006-10-10 09:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising

We need to make the GOP the regional party. Lock them into the south while the rest of us run the country. It'll benefit southern voters too.

by MNPundit 2006-10-10 09:33PM | 0 recs
Well, No

I think you draw the wrong conclusions from your analysis.  

Yes, it's interesting that the Democrats might actually win back the House this election without many southern seats, given how monolithic the South has been for one intrenched party for decades.

But the main drivers of any swing this election are clearly voters' revulsion at the Iraq War and associated blunders of the corrupt Republican leadership and Administration, not because of some fabulous new progressive message/frame/agenda which won over the rest of the country outside of the south. I wish it were so but it's not. Instead it's a very unusual year that's going our way, right down to Foleygate five weeks before the vote.

Think of it this way - if the Iraq War and Katrina and corruption scandals were not going on, how successful would a full-on progessive message and netroots campaign be?  Democrats might be making minor gains because of the usual 6th year voter fatigue for the party in power.  But I'm not even sure of that, given the strength of the Republican message machine, their more sophisticated field operation and the distortion of gerrymandered districts and incumbency.

I absolutely hope we get the House back and even the Senate and can start the long effort to repair the incredible damage that Bush and his team have done to the country. But progressives still have a lot to do to get our message development and campaign infrastructure up to the sophistication of the radical Republicans.

by dwightmc 2006-10-10 09:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising

Chris, I think your analysis is interesting, but fails in some areas.

You stated that the Cook Political Report currently lists 28 seats as either toss-ups, or as leaning toward a shift in party control. All 28 of these seats are held by Republicans. Only six of those 28 seats, FL-13, FL-16, FL-22, NC-11, TX-22, and VA-02, and in the eleven states that once formed the confederacy"

Which is probably technically true, but there's two problems. One; dividing the country into simply "The South" & the rest of the country, isn't a very useful analysis, because it ignores the presence of other very conservative areas of the country that are just as conservative if not more conservative than the south. Of those 22 Republican held toss-up seats outside the 11 states of the Old Confederacy, 3 of them are in the State of Indiana; a solidly red state & one in which Bush beat Kerry by nearly 21 percentage points. That's a bigger R to D disparity than in every southern state save Alabama & Texas.

The second problem is that your definition of The South as the Old Confederate states ignores Kentucky, which technically wasn't a confederate state but is most assuredly part of the south & a red state. One of the toss-up races listed in the Cook report is in Kentucky.

Another problem is that a number of these toss up races are in states that, while not arch-conservative, are hardly bastions of cosmopolitan liberalism either. This runs the gambit from swing states like Ohio, Iowa & New Mexico (which both went red in 2004) to trending blue, but still reliably red states like Arizona & Colorado, which account for 7 toss up races.

Second is accounting for just how these people are doing it (or not doing it as you say). In addition to the 3 toss up races in Indiana & one in Kentucky, which includes;

Joe Donnelly: A pro-life, anti-gun regulation, "faith" Democrat who opposes amnesty for illegals & supports building a wall along the border, running against Chris Chocola in Indiana.

Baron Hill: A former member of congress & DLC & Blue Dog alumni running against Mike Sodrel in Indiana

and Ken Lucas: Another former member of congress & vocal "Blue Dog" democrat who is pro-life, anti-gun regulation and anti-gay marriage running against Geoff Davis in Kentucky;

You also have

Ed Perlmutter: a moderate "centrist" Democrat who's also co-chair of the Colorado DLC, running for Bob Beauprez'a vacated seat in Colorado.

John Cranley: A pro life Catholic candidate who opposes abortion rights running against Steve Chabot in Ohio.

Zack Space: A very pro-gun, very hard line anti-immigration candidate who opposes citizenship for non English speakers & supports building a wall along the Mexican border and characterizes any gun regulations as a threat to the constitution, running for Bob Ney's seat in Ohio.

I think it's definitely a shift to the left for the party, but I wouldn't count all my eggs just yet. And I think you'll find that even as certain states in the west * southwest trend bluer, the types of Democrats who will succeed there aren't always going to be the type you prefer.


by Epitome22 2006-10-10 11:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising

Except for the anti-choice stuff, most of those positions sound perfectly ok to me and certainly in no way incompatible with traditional liberalism of the New Deal-FDR-Truman variety.  Thanks for the tips - I'm off now to add a few more names to my ActBlue page.

by ACSR 2006-10-11 03:10AM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising

Best comment on this thread. Thanks.

by DaleInMinnesota 2006-10-11 05:37AM | 0 recs
The real point

Chris Bowers is going to great lengths to state that there is an ideological battle going on. His argument falls apart when he attempts to paint it as a battle of the state vs. the christian coalition.

The reason for his error in excluding Kentucky, and for ignoring the Red state trends in the Southwest, and singling out instead the confederacy is because it is, right now, the stronghold of the Christian Coalition.

It is also an extreme fallacy to state that the "South doesn't matter" because , Georgia , for example, and Florida, are experiencing rapid population growth - not only from Louisiana, where people are simply staying instead of returning to New Orleans (in my area, over 100,000 new residents came from New Orleans)  but also from immigrants from Mexico, who stand to become a huge sleeper electorate should they attain citizenship (and also, several who already are attaining citizenship as we speak). This is the same electorate that put a Republican in the Governor's Mansion of California.  And it is hardly a 'bubba' vote.

The boundaries of all states are very fluid. People like 'bubba' have satellite dishes and now, internet.  So called conservatives are struggling to hold their 'safe' territory - and the consultants that gave the democratic party mike dukakis, are struggling to tell party leadership that the south doesn't matter.

However, since Bowers also posted that we should run a 50 state strategy and now is in effect stating that the south doesn't matter -

What he's really saying is that the Christian Coalition puts a bee in his bonnet. I read this from the geographical boundaries he's gerrymandered into this post.

by heyAnita 2006-10-11 07:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising

The long-term question is what happens in 2012 when more seats shift from the North and East into the South and West.  Can the Democratic Party make any inroads in these states' legislatures to protect its few incumbents and keep them from DeLay type redistrictings in '12?  And what happens to some of those Democratic incumbents in the North and East when their seats are merged?  Especially if the party cannot captialize in the current disarray on the Right and elect a President in '08?  

by baturcotte 2006-10-11 08:50AM | 0 recs
Not quite so clear.

I see several simultaneous trends.

1. Realignment.  We are finally drumming out "moderate" Republicans from blue territory, decades after Republicans did the same in red territory.

2. Moderation in the West.  In places like Montana, Colorado and South Dakota, we are running moderates who do not buy the progressive line on a lot of issues, but help us secure a leadership vote.

3. Dissolutionment.  Issues that play to the religious right and ideologically laissez-faire do not necessary play well to the business constituency of the GOP.  Its coalition is outliving its usefulness.

4. Improved organization and mobilization.  The netroots and growing parts of the union movement are now picking up the slack that fell away as manufacturing industry unions suffered.

by ohwilleke 2006-10-11 10:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising

To back how different the south is from the rest of the country, and why it would affect congress to a larger degree that the south would not be essential to a new democratic majority, I point to the demographic map of Baptists in the US.

Really striking, how concentrated they are in the south.  Goes a long way to explaining its differences I'd say.

by scientician 2006-10-11 11:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Majority Rising

There's a problem with this "Baptist" map in that it apparently includes more than the Southern Baptists you're thinking of: American Baptists, who are relatively liberal mainstream Protestants; National Baptists, who are black mainstream Protestants; and sundry other Baptist denominations I haven't figured out yet.

by joyful alternative 2006-10-12 08:32PM | 0 recs


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