Numbers from Election 2006. Possible 2008 targets

Originally posted at dKos

The Green Papers has a huge table of election info here.

Here's some info from that table:

The Dems won the House Popular vote 52/46.

And Under the Fold, I'll go over the club of candidates who didn't spend $100K but still got over 40% of the vote.

As well, a few big spenders, third party all-stars, and hapless Republicans will be noted.

And i'll produce a short targets list too.

There's more...

The Alliance of the Ignored: Power Perceived Versus Power Achieved

The attempts to oust Dean have been crushed. The anti-Deaniacs in the party are fresh out of friends:James Carville's attempt to topple Howard Dean as chairman of the Democratic National Committee failed after state party officials and even a vocal critic of Dean crushed the coup, officials said.

Insiders from the Clinton camp winced at Carville's untimely remarks last week calling for Dean's ouster in favor of unsuccessful Senate candidate Harold Ford of Tennessee.

"It was not coming from [Sen. Hillary Clinton] and they made a real effort to distance themselves from James' comments," said a source close to the Clintons.

The Clintonistas don't want an undeserved backlash from the activist wing of the party that overwhelmingly supports Dean, especially because some anti-Clinton Democrats have blamed Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) for the attack by Carville, a longtime Clinton insider. Those forces claimed Carville's motive was to topple Dean in favor of a chairman more favorable to Sen. Clinton's bid for President. The remarks form Clinton's camp come after Charles Schumer and Donnie Fowler backed Howard Dean and the fifty-state strategy, the Association of State Democratic Chairs did the same, and after Dean scored a 96% approval rating on the latest Dailykos leadership poll. The latter two are particularly key, because over the past two years, Howard Dean's base of support in the party has come primarily from two sources: state parties and the progressive movement. Although lacking in nuance, it would not be inaccurate to characterize the current modus operandi of the DNC as follows: small donations from progressive movement activists flow to the DNC in record amounts, and most of those donations end up being spent on direct grants to state parties and in the form of state-level field organizers. This is a novel path for Democratic money to take, especially since it generally bypasses both Washington, D.C. based consultants and wealthy donors. It is also exactly why Carville's base of supporters hate Dean so much.

Although this is obviously lost on most pundits and journalists, it is interesting how this seemingly odd alliance between state parties and the progressive movement is based not upon ideology. Rather, it is based upon both a shared strategic principle, the fifty-state strategy, and a shared chip on the shoulder: the sense that both have been long ignored by the party leadership. It is a sort of Alliance of the Ignored. When this alliance runs afoul of the Carville's and Begala's of the world, once again it does so primarily because of strategic differences, not because of ideology. Carville and Begala generally represent an older tactical vision for the Democratic Party. This was a vision that was dominant from 1988-2004, when Democrats heavily employed triangulation, focused almost entirely on the narrow targeting of a few "swing" districts and demographics, and when television advertisements and repetitious talking points aimed mushy-middle, low information voters where the primary tools utilized in all national Democratic campaigns. Wealthy donors and high-level consultants liked that strategy because it kept money flowing to the latter in the form of hefty commissions, and because it kept Democratic policy where the former would like it to be. Most state parties and progressive activists hated that strategy because it basically dictacted that their electoral concerns were either not important, or something from which the Democratic Party needed to actively distance itself. Whatever ideological differences there may or may not be between the two feuding camps, ultimately their dispute is grounded in a difference in tactical vision: narrow targeting versus the fifty-state strategy.

Right now, the fifty-state strategy is ascendant, and so are state parties and the progressive movement. Fifty-state strategy candidates appear to have the votes to win the DNC Chair for the foreseeable future. Long-ignored state parties will probably keep voting for it, and the long-ignored activists in the progressive movement will probably keep funding it. It is in this way that state parties and the Democratic activist working class have bandied together to form an Alliance of the Ignored to which even the Clinton camp must now pay respect. Best of all, even when Dean's tenure is up in two years, the progressive movement can maintain our power and the Alliance of the Ignored with the state parties through another DNC chair who would be willing to continue the fifty-state strategy. In all likelihood, every once and a while some wealthy donors and high-level consultants will back another pundit like Carville in an attempt to replace a fifty-state strategy chair with a narrow targeting, triangulation, low-information voters chair. However, as long as we make certain the fifty-state strategy is healthy and functioning, these donors and consultants will continue to fail. The old Washington, D.C. based CW clearly does not have the votes to overcome the new fifty-state strategy coalition in the Democratic Party.

In this environment, Clinton's camp understandably wants to distance itself from Carville's remarks. The consensus in the Democratic Party is clearly against him on this one. Carville may have perceived power as a long-time insider, strategist and pundit for the party, but the Alliance of the Ignored between state parties and progressive movement activists have achieved power through the fifty-state strategy. Most higher-ups in the Democratic Party like Clinton and Schumer know this, and that is one of the main reasons why they pay respect to the fifty-state strategy and The Alliance of the Ignored (that, and the fifty-state strategy seems to be working). Because of this alliance, it is no longer possible for people who want to lead the party to dismiss either state parties or the working class of the Democratic activist universe. As power as flowed away from the disgruntled, narrow-targeting clique that has been backing Carville these past ten days, it has flowed to the members of the new alliance. Given this, I wouldn't want to anger us now, either. Power achieved. Narrow targeting strategy crushed for another two years. Now, in order to maintain this power, we must make certain that the fifty-state strategy continues to work.

Democrats Poised To Take Over The States

Outside of the battle for Congress, and to far less fanfare, Democrats are virtually assured of a major breakthrough in the states. Looking at Jonathan's Governors forecast, I have produced the following projected map of the country's Governorships:

Any state that is "lean Democratic" or better is in blue. Any state that is "lean Republican" or worse is in red. The six toss-up states are in purple (Rhode Isalnd is purple, in case you can't see that). Breaking down this map by congressional district, we get the following:

Democrat: 210 (24 states)
Republican: 185 (20 states)
Toss-up: 40 (6 states)

Whatever worries we may have about Congress, when it comes to governorships, Democrats are on the brink of taking a national majority, in terms of states, population, and congressional districts. In fact, we are practically assured of pulling off all three of those majorities in 2006.

The fun doesn't stop there. The only national majority we currently have comes in state legislatures:Currently, state legislative chambers are controlled almost evenly between the two political parties. Twenty legislatures are controlled by Republicans, 19 by Democrats and 10 legislatures are split (for those who are counting, Nebraska is a nonpartisan legislature). In terms of individual legislators, Democrats maintain the slightest 21-seat majority over Republicans. While more Democratic-controlled legislatures feature narrow majorities, more than any other type of major elected office, local state legislature seats are the ultimate unknowns for voters. This means that what I have previously termed "the generic advantage" will play heavily in Democratic favor this year. For example, in a recent special election for State Senate in Pennsylvania, the Democratic candidate won a heavily Republican district by 13%. Across the nation, there have been many other examples like that over the past year as well. I expect Democats to hold most, if not all of their state legislative majorities, and pick up a few more majorities. Where control does not shift, Democrats will either massively increase their leads, or significantly narrow their deficits. We are going to win a lot of state legislature seats this year.

In many ways, whatever gains we make in Congress will simply be an added bonus to our gains in the states. It is in the states where we build our benches for higher office, and our benches had been severely depleted since 1994. It is in the states where progressive legislation will first appear before it is adopted nationally, and even a Democratic Congress in D.C. won't be able to adopt much progressive legislation as long as bush is President. It is also in the states where voters maintain their core partisan identification, and where GOTV operations preside. It is also in the states where the control over much election machinery and congressional maps is held. Controlling the states is the backbone to any national governing coalition. In 2006, Democrats look set to take clear control of the states for the first time since 1994. As much as anything else, that will stop the conservative movement in its tracks, and help change the direction of this country.

The fifty-state strategy is a beautiful thing. This is why we support Democrats everywhere, and why only targeting a handful of states with money form the party committees was such a poor idea.

Republicans Cede 2-3% of National House Vote To Democrats

That was awfully nice of them.

With most filing deadlines closed, right now at best Democrats can fill 426 House districts this year. However, after Republicans only managed to challenge three of the ten districts in Massachusetts, right now at best Republicans can only fill a rather pathetic 390 seats (and dropping). This enormous, 36 seat gap is more than twice as large as the advantage for either party since at least 1994. As Democrats are set to break the all-time districts challenged record of 419, Republicans look like they will clock in with the second worst year since 1994, surpassed only by the 1998 Democratic total of 380.

This translates into an important, though hidden, advantage for Democrats in the generic ballot and the national vote totals. When voters go to the polls, 10% of them will not even have the option of voting for a Republican. By contrast, only 2% will not have the option of voting for a Democrat. Wondering what this would mean in terms of actual votes, I was looking back through election results in the House from 2002 and 2004, and simply having a candidate's name on the ballot seemed to guarantee around 20-27% for a major party automatically. When a major party is not on the ballot, both incumbents and third-parties do exceptionally well, as they seem to split the 20-27% that would have gone to the major party that did not field a candidate.

I think you see where I am going this. Now, subtract the 2% of the country that can vote Rep but not Dem from the 10% of the country that can vote Dem but not Rep and you get an 8% advantage for Democrats. Multiply that 8% by 23.5% (the rough average of the "automatic vote" for each party in a given district) and you get 1.9% of the overall national vote that Republicans have simply thrown away. Figure that Democratic incumbents get half of the 1.9%, and you have a built in swing of 2.8% in the national House vote for Democrats this year. Figure that many of these safe Democratic districts will have lower turnout than other districts nationwide, and you can arrive at a rough estimate of a 2.5% pro-Democratic swing from an accurate pre-election poll to the actual vote.

Now, detractors of the fifty-state strategy will say that this doesn't matter, because House seats are not determined by popular national vote, but by a first-past-the-post mechanism in 435 distinct districts. However, there are many reasons why this is very good for Democrats nationwide:
  • Nearly one million people will grow more used to voting for Democrats. Riffing off the term "Reagan Democrats," let's call those voters "fifty state strategy Republicans."
  • This will drain Republicans resources--no telling how many--from competitive, Republican held-districts.
  • This will help Democrats both down ballot and up ballot, while it hurts Republicans both down ballot and up ballot.
  • A big national vote win will grant more legitimacy to a Democratic controlled congress, and less legitimacy to a Republican-controlled congress.
  • Help identify local Democratic activists nationwide.
  • Get more Democrats working on this election than Republicans.
This is a nice, little advantage for us to have. It won't win an election on its own, but it will give us a real boost. Whenever you see generic ballot polls showing Democrats up 10% (which is roughly our current average) remember that this translates into an advantage of 12-13% in actual votes, simply because we have candidates in so many more districts than Republicans.

Bravo, fifty-state strategists and activists, bravo.

Easing Back in Thread

Well, I'm back in Boston after the Meet the Parents trip to Syracuse and Rochester this past week. I had a good time, and realized all of the many cultural movements that came out of Upstate New York in the 19th century. On the plus side came the abolitionist and women's suffrage movement. On the negative side came the prohibition movement. On the trivia side came Mormonism. On the "good at the time, but not so good now" side came The Republican Party. Even though I grew up in Onondaga County, I actually had no idea the Republican Party was founded in Syracuse until this week. Maybe I should make it my life's goal to buy the house where it was founded, live in that house, and then win a seat in Congress from Syracuse as a Democrat while in residence. That might be the ultimate example of plating your partisan flag in the heart of the beast.

Anyway, here are some items that caught my eye while sifting through my email today: I'll b heading back to Philly on Monday afternoon, and I'll return to full-time posting on Tuesday. This is an open thread.


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