I remain pessimistic about this race. The netroots has bet the farm on Connecticut and it looks increasingly likely that Lieberman will win. Again, I don't see much evidence that the progressive blogosphere knows how to win over moderates and centrists. We seem more interested in pumping each other up with all those shout-outs of "Fitzmas!" and "Nedrenaline!" rather than focusing on the complex calculus required to GOTV and take back control of Congress.
Do the math: with few exceptions campaigns exclusively devoted to turn out progressives, and only progressives, are doomed. The GOP base is more reliable (so far) and much larger than our base -- by millions.
Thanks for the post, Chris. I have a related question: if Lieberman wins, what larger effect will this have on the netroots? It seems to me that after all that time and money and intensity, this would be a major loss for the progressive blogosphere. By the way, I don't think it's premature to raise this question -- the numbers are locking in solid, and unless we find out that Lieberman was Mark Foley's chauffeur, we'll probably lose the seat.
Ford voted for the FMA in the House and also is against post-first-trimester abortion (I believe). If I understand Webb's positions correctly, he does not support the FMA and is also solidly pro-choice. Very important distinctions to "values voters."
Actually, Nixon had very little to do with the "Solid South" flipping from Democrat to Republican in the '60s. Look back to '64: LBJ and the Voting Rights Act pushed whites to the GOP, alas.
The Dems can win in Southern black districts, obviously, and even in moderate districts -- I'm thinking state capitals, such as Nashville and Tallahassee, which routinely go Democratic in presidential elections. But it's more prudent, I think, to allocate more of our resources in, say, Colorado and Montana and even Wyoming. The Western libertarians feel very betrayed by the Republicans just now. By and large, the Southern evangelicals own the GOP in the near term.
I read the Bai article yesterday and came away with the idea that perhaps both Dean and Schumer-Emanuel are both sorta right. No one doubts that Dean's concept of the 50-state strategy is the correct one. The question is whether it will ultimately work in all 50 states. And the answer, I believe, is no.
Look, I grew up in the Bible Belt, the son of evangelical Protestants who would shoot themselves before they would vote for a Democrat. And that's pretty much the same for all white voters throughout the heart of the South: South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, and increasingly, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina and Florida. The best opportunities for the Democrats will open up in the blueing edges of Virginia. Personally, I wouldn't waste the limited resources expanding the Mississippi party; it's like flushing money down the drain. Focus instead on the Rocky Mountain states as well as the Upper Midwest.
One more thing: the best shot the Democrats have in the South is with socially moderate centrists like Harold Ford, Jr., the so-called "Republican lite" candidates. The issues I'd like to see the progressive netroots tackle --and please bear in mind I consider myself a member -- is that with the rare exception we don't know how to woo centrists and we don't massively support centrist Dems in districts that will never, ever elect a progressive, period. I see no evidence that Democrats can make a comeback nationally by appealing only to self-described progessives, most of whom are clustered in big-city states with smaller electoral clout.
Case in point: firedoglake. I've read a bajillion posts there about Ned Lamont but can't recall a single one on Ford. And Lamont will likely lose to Lieberman while Ford could very well win and shift the balance in the Senate. What's the deal with that?
The Republicans can afford to run base-centered races because their base is larger than ours. They've also proven they can turn out those voters in droves in the larger pursuit of transforming the U.S. into a theocracy. We don't have that kind of demonstrable voting power (yet). In certain pivotal races in purple and red states, we must be willing to pull out the stops for centrists, as distasteful as that may sound. Just throwing money at the Mississippi Democratic party ain't enough -- you got to know how to talk to voters who know that the book of Job is found in the Old Testament, not the New, and who care more about that fact than they do about "affordable healthcare for working families."
2) As an alum of U.Va, I love the use of the University's Rotunda in the background; visually connects the message with Jeffersonian democracy; suggests that Allen is a threat to Jefferson's vision of what this country should be.
Terrific posts, all. Since the '90s the GOP has used churches to GOTV. (Example A: my Baptist parents in Tennessee who happily vote Republican because the preacher tells them to do so). The Dems need a comparable structure although it's a little late in this election cycle to begin a discussion. Nonetheless, may these seeds take root.
Flashback to 2001: Bloomberg was trailing Mark Green by more than margin of error until the last week when Giuliani did a presser on the steps of City Hall to endorse Bloomberg, which amounted to an anointing of his successor a mere two months after 9/11. That, and the fact that Bloomberg spent $65 million of his own fortune. I won't revisit the mistakes of the Green campaign -- I vote for another candidate in the primary although I voted for Green in the general -- but suffice it to say that even with the racial overtones on the Democratic side, Bloomberg probably wouldn't have won the 2001 election without Giuliani's literal embrace.
My larger point is that people tend to vote their identities over specific positions on issues, whether they be white "security moms" or urban African-American voters or Christian evangelicals. If the Democrats wish to reverse the current pattern of losing close elections, then they must reach out to black voters as well as to moderate white voters -- white progressives alone won't carry the day. The numbers aren't there. As far as Michael Steele is concerned, he's clearly playing the race card as the GOP often does, and it's up to Democrats like Bill Clinton, Barak Obama and others to counter Steele's pandering for votes on the basis of race.
I'm disappointed to hear your implicit charge of racism. Just for the record: in my past life as an editor I've worked with numerous black writers and on scores of projects that have advanced the causes of civil rights for African-Americans. On occasion I've voted for minority candidates over qualified white ones (Dinkins in '93, McCall in '02, Ferrer in '05) because I want to empower diverse policy makers. And I and my family have lived for the past five years in a predominantly black neighborhood. So I'm not sure your charge holds up.
I agree with some of what you say, Matt, but the Democratic party's current race problem is incredibly complex, varying from region to region and from urban to suburban to rural areas. But I profoundly disagree with the implication thatany white Democrat's critique of certain black voters' race-based voting patterns is in and of itself racist.
Let's recall the deeply contentious Clarence Thomas Supreme Court hearing. When confronted by troubling, demonstrable allegations by Anita Hill, Thomas fought by by interjecting an inflammatory term, "high-tech lynching," that fired up black voters across the country and compelled them to lobby their respective Senators to vote for confirmation. If memory serves, Georgia Democrat Sam Nunn had been leaning against confirmation, but once his office was flooded with calls he voted FOR confirmation. He and a few centrist Dems tipped the balance for Thomas -- and look what has occurred as a result. Justice Thomas has been one of the absolute worst things to happen to black people in this country in the last fifteen years.
Remember the O.J. verdict? Despite overwhelming forensic evidence, a largely black jury voted to acquit him, and even intimidated a conflicted white female juror to go along with the verdict. In New York City that day, scores of African-American office workers went out to lunch to celebrate a black man finally beating the system.
How has New York City, the largest and arguably the most Democratic city in America, elected and re-elected back-to-back Republican mayors? Almost solely because of race as a wedge issue. The sole reason Freddy Ferrer offered for his candidacy was that he could make history as the city's first Latino mayor -- he actually claimed this in a post-election interview. Given the myriad problems facing the city, I find that comment moronic -- and I say this as the only white person I know who actually voted for Ferrer, although mine was really an anti-Bloomberg vote.
The GOP knows that in tight races they can use race to wedge Democrats. A colleague of my wife's, a bright, highly educated African-American man originally from New Orleans, told her that his mother voted for Ray Nagin's re-election over Mitch Landrieu because she resented the notion that only a white man could clean up the post-Katrina mess. Never mind that Nagin has been an unmitigated disaster in the New Orleans reconstruction, alienated white voters with his "chocolate city" gaffe, and has for reasons that remain murky continually praised Bush for the Administration's heroic efforts to rebuild NOLA. While not a Maryland voter, this same colleague also expressed annoyance at Cardin's primary victory, saying "Black folks are now supposed to vote for a white man simply because he's a Democrat?" Does he really think Steele would be better for the African-American community than Cardin? Just look at how much Clarence Thomas has done for his people.
Look, we've got a problem here and the burden rests more on white Democrats to resolve it. But the blame for GOP wedge victories must be shouldered by black voters as well. I'd be curious to know if, say, in the Ohio governor's race, Blackwell has a higher level of support among black voters than usual.
The New York Times poll and Los Angeles Times poll almost contradict each other so I'm not especially heartened. I've followed Ron Brownstein's analysis of polling data for years and I think he's among the most astute of the whole bunch.
The GOP may be justifiably nervous but so am I -- the general trends in the past month have been toward the Republicans. Could we hold off on the victory lap until AFTER that so-called "wave?"
I second this emotion. I'm a big fan of Sirota but this post was pure verbal diarrhea. I just scrolled through his blog and found 90% of his posts concerned Joe Lieberman. Dave, dude, you loathe Lieberman and want him gone. I get it, I really do. And I agree 300%.
BUT . . . let's take a break from the Connecticut Senate race for half a sec. You want to regain the Senate, right? Believe it or not, there are other races that will decide control. As an influential progressive netroots blogger and activist, what the f*&%#* have you done to help Whitehouse get elected in Rhode Island? Brown in Ohio? Casey in Pennsylvania? McCaskill in Missouri? Ford in Tennessee?
What about those three key House races in Connecticut? Those Indiana seats now in play? The open seat in Arizona? Those potential flips in New York?
I'm gonna go out on a limb here: the obsession with Lieberman has sucked the oxygen out of other, equally essential campaigns. With the progressive netroots focusing so much on all the minutiae of the Connecticut race, the GOP may have gained enough time and space to gain traction with its "Vote Democrat and die" message elsewhere and motivate the Republican GOTV efforts.
The Gallup poll has scared the jeebus out of me: out of likely voters this November, 48% are leaning Republican, 48% Democrat. This is bad, folks. This is not where we should be six weeks out. Sirota, Jane Hamsher, Talking Points Memo, myDD -- all should be concentrating on how to WIN EACH AND EVERY ELECTION, across the board, rather than opining on, say, on the daily moronic musings of Dan Gerstein.
Given the current highly optimistic drumbeat from myDD, I'm wondering if Matt or anybody else would like to offer a comment on the new Gallup poll, which shows Bush at his highest approval rate in a year, 44%, up five points in a month? The new 48/48 split Dem/GOP split among likely voters in Congressional elections gives me pause as well. Is this just a September 11th bump or evidence of something more significant?
I realize that Gallup, a very conservative poll, usually skews more favorably toward Republicans than, say, Zogby, but the lump in my stomach has grown a bit this morning . . . I'm wondering if the Republican "comeback" narrative is starting to gain some real traction, especially while the progressive blogosphere has been so preoccupied with Dan Gerstein (see firedoglake) and Shirlington Limo (see Josh M.).
I hope you guys are right and that my pessimism is ill-founded . . . I'd be the happiest guy in the U.S.A. if we won both chambers in November. But my gut tells me that the netroots hasn't quite figured out how to match the GOP's groundgame.
I was elated at the latest Rasmussen Senatorial polling, which show small but widening Democratic leads in Ohio, Montana, and Rhode Island. And I think both Virginia and Tennessee are winnable as well as Pennsylvania. (Missouri, not so much.) But I'm going to hold off on all the whoops and pumped fists for now, as no doubt many of these races will tighten in the next few weeks.