Progressive Democrat Newsletter Issue 238

Trying to get back to regular newsletters, but it may not be quite weekly.

I am continuing to introduce a some more local pages focusing on particular counties or congressional districts in Texas, California and New York. These are focused on some swing districts that I think are worth concentrating on where I think I have readers. So keep an eye open for some new info on some local districts in these three states. My intention is to compile some info which I won't necessarily update regularly, but will still be a good resource for people in those areas. This week I add Suffolk County and the 19th Congressional District in New York. My motivation is that these are districts with Democrats who are very progressive for the districts they represent (thanks to this website for info: and who are potential targets for Republican challengers, so I want to help them out. I also started coverage of Lancaster County, PA where the Pitts of Stupal-Pitts is the Congressional Rep. Last newsletter I covered the TX-10 and TX-21 districts where healthcare reform is desperately needed but obstructionist Republicans are preventing it.

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Progressive Democrat Newsletter Issue 237

The right wing is getting crazier and crazier. Glenn Beck is showing he doesn't believe in American democracy and is calling for revolution. Followers of Sarah Palin are threatening Jews with being stuffed into ovens. Teabaggers are threatening assassinations. All of this is disgusting, un-American bigotry and proves once again that the right wing extremists in America really at heart hate everything America stands for. I have never seen such a bunch of whiny, hysterical, stupid fools as modern day right wing Republicans. Of course one of the main things driving them to new heights of hysterical fear (aside from a simlpe polite bow by our President to the Emperor of Japan) is healthcare reform. Speaking of which, let's keep in mind why we need healthcare reform:

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Progressive Democrat Newsletter Issue 235

The Progressive Democrat got some major readership during the election. Not sure how much of an effect it had, but certainly in some of the smaller races where I cover Progressive Majority candidates I think I make a bit of a difference.

Progressive candidates did very well in Washington State and Minnesota. Not so well in Pennsylvania or Colorado. Virginia and New Jersey governorships switch to Republican. NYC continues to be dominated by political machines and developer money. I would say that the elections were NOT a referendum on Obama, who remains very popular everywhere but the South. Rather it is a referendum on the Democratic Party which has been tending to do what it always does--water down its message until it no longer seems to stand for anything. This always happens for good, logical reasons. But people don't vote for good, logical reasons. They vote for a strong message that they feel attracted to and the Democratic Party is not delivering that right now. Obama often is, but the party as a whole is not. That is what is happening.

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Our Unexcited Youth

Last year, 23-year-old Rashida Hill watched the presidential debates, visited the college political party meetings and put a Barack Obama bumper sticker on her townhouse door. She voted for Obama because she felt like the election was about "being a part of something."

But on Tuesday, the Virginia Commonwealth University student didn't bother voting in the governor's race because, she said, the candidates didn't give her anything to get excited about.

"The simple fact is, unless you put it in front of somebody, they're really not going to seek it out," Hill said.

Young voters turned out in fewer numbers for Tuesday's elections in both Virginia and New Jersey than they did in 2008 for the presidential election. That's not really a surprise since off-year elections generally generate less excitement. Overall, more than 3 million voters who cast ballots in the 2008 presidential election failed to show up at the polls in either state.

The youth vote, the lack of it, is troubling. In Virginia voters under age 30 accounted for just 10 percent of the electorate on Tuesday, compared with 21 percent in 2008. It was even worse in New Jersey. Young adults ages 18 to 29 compromised only 8 percent of the total New Jersey voter turnout. In 2009, the youth vote comprised 17 percent of New Jersey's electorate.

The importance of getting the young to turn out cannot be overstated. In New Jersey, 66 percent of those under 30 voted for Governor Corzine. Just 25 percent voted for the Republican Chris Christie. In Virginia given an 11 point drop-off and the lack of excitement for the Democrat Creigh Deeds generally, the youth split nearly evenly with Deeds capturing 51 percent to McDonnell's 49 percent.

This is not to blame our poor performance yesterday on the young because there were other factors involved. In Virginia, 15 percent of African Americans turned out compared with 20 percent last year. The bigger factor was both drop-off in the number of independents and their swing to the GOP. Independents made up the smallest part of the electorate turnout in both states - contributing 29 percent of the total vote in Virginia and 28 percent in New Jersey. McDonnell received 62 percent of the independent vote, while Deeds managed only 37 percent. In the Garden State Christie took 58 percent of the independent vote, while Corzine received only 31 percent. This more than anything did Corzine in.

Still, I think this statistic is pretty telling. If the Electoral College vote had been determined by only those 29 or younger, Obama would have trounced McCain 475 to 63. Obama carried this demographic in states like Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, South Carolina, Arizona, Kentucky, Tennessee, Kansas, Nebraska, North and South Dakota. Clearly, it pays off electorally speaking to engage the young and make them "part of something."

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Two Trends on Election Night

By: Inoljt,

Last night's election exhibited two trends: one positive for the country as a whole, and one more ominous for Democrats. Firstly, Americans rejected negative campaigning and extremism - whether it be in Virginia, New Jersey, NY-23. Secondly, the electorate as a whole shifted quite profoundly to the right. This post will focus on the first aspect.

Negative Campaigning and Extremism

In the most-watched races, voters chose the side that espoused moderation and ran a positive message. The Democratic candidates in both Virginia and New Jersey focused on the negative: state congressman Creigh Deeds of Virginia spent most of his time attacking Attorney General Bob McDonnell's college thesis, while Governor Jon Corzine of New Jersey launched a barrage of negative ads. Both candidates lost.

There tends to be a myth, commonly repeated by the media, that negative campaigning works. They point to former President George W. Bush, whose Swiftboat ads ensured a 2% victory over Senator John Kerry. The truth, as recent elections show, is more complicated: Senator John McCain, Mr. Deeds, and Mr. Corzine all pinned their hopes on tearing down their opponent and all lost.

The other race featured the victory of moderate politics over extremism. In NY-23,  a Republican-represented district since the Civil War, conservatives sabotaged the moderate Republican candidate in favor of hard-line Doug Hoffman. Fortunately, voters in upstate New York rejected the Glenn Beck nominee and instead chose Democrat Bill Owens, an independent turned Democrat.

Thus the election results enforced a positive trend in politics - one of moderation and positive campaigning focused on the issues, rather than divisive personal attacks. For Democrats like myself, however, the other trend - a rightward shift - is more worrisome. Hopefully it more reflects right-wing anger than the true national mood.

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