The Curious Story of How Daniel Boman Switched Parties

By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

Alabama is a state in which the Democratic Party is on its death-bed. Ever since the Civil Rights Movement, the state has been in a slow drift Republican. First it stopped voting Democratic on the presidential level. Then it started electing Republicans for senator, then congressman, then state office, and finally local office.

The Democratic Party fought hard in this losing battle. As late as 2008 it had miraculously won three out of seven seats in the congressional delegation, and still held majorities in the state legislature. To be fair, many of these local Democrats were so conservative that they would be better described as “Republicans.”

The end came in 2010. Republicans won all but one seat in congress. They flipped the state legislature for the first time since Reconstruction, something which should have happened a long time ago. Democrats today hold no elected state office in Alabama.

There was a lot of party-switching after the 2010 elections. Many extremely conservative Democrats finally admitted that they were in fact Republicans.

In this state of affairs, something quite remarkable happened: a Republican politician, State Representative Daniel Boman, switched to the Democratic Party.

This has no effect on Alabama politics. Republicans still hold a supermajority in the chamber.

It also doesn’t appear that Mr. Boman switched for political reasons. His district is very white and very strongly Republican. He will probably lose his re-election campaign.

It thus seems that an extraordinarily rare event has occurred in American politics: a politician acting on behalf of his conscience, without any possible political gain. The Gadsden Times quotes Republican House speaker Mike Hubbard commending Mr. Boman for “formally affirming what he has likely felt in his heart for some time now.”

That is quite something. Mr. Boman seems to be a very good man, if not the wisest politician out there. This poster wishes him the best of luck in whatever his future holds.

 

 

Inside the Nomination Process

By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/ 

I recently had the opportunity to have lunch with a lawyer who had worked at the former Bush administration. This individual’s job was guiding and selecting presidential nominees for various posts in government. He was quite young; perhaps in his 30s or 40s. It was quite interesting listening to what he had to say.

Most nominations – around 90%, according to this lawyer – had almost no presidential involvement. This was due to how much stuff the president had on his plate; he generally only personally involved himself in those nominations which required Senate confirmation.

In general, the president gave an outline of what he wanted, such as an individual holding an ideological viewpoint similar to his. Then the staff did all the legwork of choosing, vetting, and sending through the nomination. The president only signed approval at the end. He might sign through multiple nominations, such as a list of eight nominees, at one time.

There is, of course, a background check. Generally the CIA or FBI goes around asking all the people you know for information. They then, with more important nominations, try to go around asking your contacts for more contacts.

Finally, the president prized diversity – something that was quite surprising but encouraging to hear. According to the former lawyer, this was not always very easy to achieve. It’s easy to find diverse candidates in places like New York or Los Angeles, he said. But in places like Minnesota or Missouri it’s a lot harder. The difficulty was multiplied by the fact that the president was looking for nominees of a conservative mind-set. Minorities, of course, are much more likely to vote Democratic and hold liberal views. Finding, for instance, a conservative non-white accomplished lawyer in North Carolina is actually a non-trivial task.

The lawyer told a story about a time they had submitted a list of eight candidates to the president to be signed. The first seven were white males; “we didn’t do it purposedly; it just happened to be that way,” he stated.

The eighth nominee was for Puerto Rico, and had a name similar to Eduardo Perez (I forget the exact name). After looking at the names and signing the president joked, “What, you couldn’t find another white male for Puerto Rico?”

All in all, the conversation was very interesting and informative. A lot of the day-by-day things that go into running the country are unrecorded by the media. It’s good to get some insight into what actually goes on inside things such as the nomination process.

 

 

Inside the Nomination Process

 

 

 

The Winds of Change in Georgia, Part 1

This is the first part of two posts describing a fascinating election in Georgia. The second part can be found here.

Georgia is a red state. It votes reliably Republican; the Republican Party controls every level of Georgia’s state government. It would be miraculous for Barack Obama to win the state in 2012.

However, Georgia used to be a very blue state. It belonged to the Solid South, a Democratic stronghold for generations. As early as 1948, however, the first signs of change came. Backlash against the Civil Rights movement and the growth of Republican suburbia eventually destroyed the Democratic Party in Georgia.

(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

The 1980 Georgia Senate Election

I have come across a very interesting election which illustrates this shift. To the best of my knowledge there is not any election similar to what happened in the 1980 Georgia Senate election:

This election posed incumbent Democratic Senator Herman Talmadge against Republican challenger Mack Mattingly.

At this time Georgia was definitely beginning to shift Republican, like its fellow southern states. At the same time, however, Democrats continued to hold great strength in the rural areas. Local Democrats consistently outperformed their presidential candidates (indeed, it would take until the late 1990s for Republicans to begin consistently winning statewide elections).

Democratic Senator Talmadge is a very interesting figure. He was one of the last of the old-style Southern Democrats. This meant that he was an economic liberal, dedicated to improving the lot of the white rural Georgian farmer through government programs. It also meant that he was strongly conservative in most other things, including race. Like all old-style Southern Democrats, Senator Talmadge was a strong proponent of segregation.

Talmadge would probably have won in normal circumstances (Georgia was still pretty Democratic at a local level in 1980). However, he had the misfortune to be caught up in a finance scandal.  This, along with a tough primary challenge and Georgia’s slowly reddening trend, led to his historic loss. Republican Mack Mattingly thus became the second Republican Senator in Georgia, ever. The previous Republican Senator had held office more than a century before Mattingly.

Let's compare Mattingly's coalition with Senator John McCain's coalition in the 2008 presidential election.

Republicans in 2008

McCain won Georgia, unsurprisingly. His coalition is a very typical Republican coalition today; he won and lost the same areas that Republicans usually win and lose today.

Notice the vast difference between McCain’s coalition of 2008 and Mattingly’s coalition of 1980. Republicans nowadays in Georgia generally win based on a coalition of rural whites and suburban whites living north of Atlanta. The city of Atlanta itself, heavily minority, is a Democratic stronghold. But suburban Republican strength north of Atlanta severely diminishes Democratic margins coming out of the city. In good elections, Republicans can even win the metropolitan area entirely. In closer elections, such as 2008, they can rely on the ever-more Republican rural white vote to do the rest of the job.

It should be noted that suburban Atlanta is well on its way to becoming minority-majority. Nevertheless, Republicans are at the moment still able to get good margins out of it.

Republicans in 1980

In 1980, the Republican coalition was almost the exact opposite of this. Republican Senator Mattingly’s greatest strength came out of the Atlanta metropolis. He actually won the heavily-minority counties in Atlanta itself, something unheard of for any Republican today. On the other hand, Mattingly performed extremely poorly with rural whites, who strongly preferred his Democratic opponent. Today it would be unheard of for any Republican to do as poorly as Mattingly did in rural Georgia.

Another fascinating difference: compare how the cities voted in the two elections. In 2008 Barack Obama won every single county home to a city listed in the map above. In 1980, Democrat Herman Talmadge lost all of these places except for Macon. It wasn’t just Atlanta that voted Republican in that election; so did all the smaller cities outside of it. Today all of these places vote Democratic.

There are two constants between these two elections. In both 1980 and 2008, Republicans were able to win Atlanta’s northern suburbs and rural northern Georgia. In 1980 Republicans did better in the suburbs; in 2008 they did better in rural northern Georgia. Both times these two areas proved key for the Republican victory.

The Black Vote

There is one final concern which has not been touched upon: the role of Georgia’s black population in all this. African-Americans compose almost one-third of Georgia’s population, and their presence was a key influence (or perhaps “the” key influence) in Georgia’s Republican shift.

In 1980 Republican candidate Mack Mattingly won areas with substantial black populations, most notably the heavily-black city of Atlanta itself. Surely Democratic Senator Herman Talmadge’s dedicated support to segregation wouldn’t have appealed to the black vote.

So did Republicans win the black vote in this 1980 election?

This is in fact the reason that I decided to write this analysis in the first place, and the next post will examine this question.

--inoljt

 

The Winds of Change in Georgia, Part 1

This is the first part of two posts describing a fascinating election in Georgia. The second part can be found here.

Georgia is a red state. It votes reliably Republican; the Republican Party controls every level of Georgia’s state government. It would be miraculous for Barack Obama to win the state in 2012.

However, Georgia used to be a very blue state. It belonged to the Solid South, a Democratic stronghold for generations. As early as 1948, however, the first signs of change came. Backlash against the Civil Rights movement and the growth of Republican suburbia eventually destroyed the Democratic Party in Georgia.

(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

The 1980 Georgia Senate Election

I have come across a very interesting election which illustrates this shift. To the best of my knowledge there is not any election similar to what happened in the 1980 Georgia Senate election:

This election posed incumbent Democratic Senator Herman Talmadge against Republican challenger Mack Mattingly.

At this time Georgia was definitely beginning to shift Republican, like its fellow southern states. At the same time, however, Democrats continued to hold great strength in the rural areas. Local Democrats consistently outperformed their presidential candidates (indeed, it would take until the late 1990s for Republicans to begin consistently winning statewide elections).

Democratic Senator Talmadge is a very interesting figure. He was one of the last of the old-style Southern Democrats. This meant that he was an economic liberal, dedicated to improving the lot of the white rural Georgian farmer through government programs. It also meant that he was strongly conservative in most other things, including race. Like all old-style Southern Democrats, Senator Talmadge was a strong proponent of segregation.

Talmadge would probably have won in normal circumstances (Georgia was still pretty Democratic at a local level in 1980). However, he had the misfortune to be caught up in a finance scandal.  This, along with a tough primary challenge and Georgia’s slowly reddening trend, led to his historic loss. Republican Mack Mattingly thus became the second Republican Senator in Georgia, ever. The previous Republican Senator had held office more than a century before Mattingly.

Let's compare Mattingly's coalition with Senator John McCain's coalition in the 2008 presidential election.

Republicans in 2008

McCain won Georgia, unsurprisingly. His coalition is a very typical Republican coalition today; he won and lost the same areas that Republicans usually win and lose today.

Notice the vast difference between McCain’s coalition of 2008 and Mattingly’s coalition of 1980. Republicans nowadays in Georgia generally win based on a coalition of rural whites and suburban whites living north of Atlanta. The city of Atlanta itself, heavily minority, is a Democratic stronghold. But suburban Republican strength north of Atlanta severely diminishes Democratic margins coming out of the city. In good elections, Republicans can even win the metropolitan area entirely. In closer elections, such as 2008, they can rely on the ever-more Republican rural white vote to do the rest of the job.

It should be noted that suburban Atlanta is well on its way to becoming minority-majority. Nevertheless, Republicans are at the moment still able to get good margins out of it.

Republicans in 1980

In 1980, the Republican coalition was almost the exact opposite of this. Republican Senator Mattingly’s greatest strength came out of the Atlanta metropolis. He actually won the heavily-minority counties in Atlanta itself, something unheard of for any Republican today. On the other hand, Mattingly performed extremely poorly with rural whites, who strongly preferred his Democratic opponent. Today it would be unheard of for any Republican to do as poorly as Mattingly did in rural Georgia.

Another fascinating difference: compare how the cities voted in the two elections. In 2008 Barack Obama won every single county home to a city listed in the map above. In 1980, Democrat Herman Talmadge lost all of these places except for Macon. It wasn’t just Atlanta that voted Republican in that election; so did all the smaller cities outside of it. Today all of these places vote Democratic.

There are two constants between these two elections. In both 1980 and 2008, Republicans were able to win Atlanta’s northern suburbs and rural northern Georgia. In 1980 Republicans did better in the suburbs; in 2008 they did better in rural northern Georgia. Both times these two areas proved key for the Republican victory.

The Black Vote

There is one final concern which has not been touched upon: the role of Georgia’s black population in all this. African-Americans compose almost one-third of Georgia’s population, and their presence was a key influence (or perhaps “the” key influence) in Georgia’s Republican shift.

In 1980 Republican candidate Mack Mattingly won areas with substantial black populations, most notably the heavily-black city of Atlanta itself. Surely Democratic Senator Herman Talmadge’s dedicated support to segregation wouldn’t have appealed to the black vote.

So did Republicans win the black vote in this 1980 election?

This is in fact the reason that I decided to write this analysis in the first place, and the next post will examine this question.

--inoljt

 

 

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