It seems obvious that Caucus states select for the most engaged and politically-interested people. Also, older people, and the party-faithful, i.e. people who vote every time. Finally, non-presidential election years select even more towards the core. Chrs's stats show Obama's support droping off as the data is restricted to caucus goers, which may be a result of Obama receiving higher support from younger voters.
Colorado has both a caucus AND a primary. This gives you a pretty good way to measure these effect (from past election cycles). This history shows that the Party Establishment (elected officials, donors and Party officials) are more moderate, the Party faithful are very Liberal, maybe even California-esque, and the Primary voters are closer to the general public.
An Insurgent, even highly-liberal candidate can get a lot of support in the caucus, enough to get first listing on the Primary slate. But then the more moderate candidate shows better in the runoff, i.e. the Primary. You also see this effect in the Party Platform.
The Republicans have this same problem with their extreme right-wing. McCain is clearly talking to this base. All his nut-case comments make sense if we realize he is trying to lock-in the die-hard 30% who still believe in Bush. That 30% is probably over 50% of the Republican Party base at the Primary level, and 66% in the caucus situation.
First. The Republican Party is increasingly dominated by the far right-wingers. In most of the country the moderates have been purged. Here in Colorado, all three GOP Representatives and the lone GOP Senator are long-term beholden to the authoritarian and militaristic vision. The moderate Republicans have already left the Party, so there is no one to restrain the Conservatives.
Secondly. I'm sure any remaining moderate Republicans would love Bush to take the Iraq garrotte off their necks, but the neocons in the White House have too much invested. It isn't just about reputation and saving face. There are contracts for Iraq development projects, oil concessions, contracting firms, Republican donors in the Cheney Industrial Complex. They really believe that US interests require a confrontational geopolitical game of staying in Iraq, surrounding Iran, keeping tensions high, keep their base energized by waving the red flag. They also have deep financial interests in not leaving Iraq.
Nevertheless, we should keep up the pressure. Splitting the moderate Republicans off from the neocons is a safety valve against the neocons. If the neocons were to do something crazy like bombing Iran, it would increase the likelihood of splitting the Republican Party.
Colorado, Washington and Oregon are other states with a polarized GOP. See the recent Pew report on political ids.
The difference between these states and Kansas is that Kansas doesn't have a major metro area. Since urban centers provide a lot of Democrats a right-winger has to tack back to the middle in any state-wide general election. In KS this lack of a large, guaranteed Dem block gives the Republican primary more importance for the final result.
From the recent Pew report, Oregon Party politics fits with the "Polarized Politics Cluster" along with Washington, Colorado and Virginia. On another scale, Oregon is Democrat-favored in terms of Party identification. This combination means that while a Conservative Republican may get traction within the Republican Party, no Republican would have an easy time winning the general election.
The "Polarized Grouping" is defined by the Dems have lower than average "conservative democrats" and the Republicans have lower than average "moderate republicans", leading to a sharp polarization between the parties in terms of ideology.
The second defining parameter is that the Party Identification in Oregon is 56/43 Dem/Rep.
The combination of Polarized Parties plus Dem-Leaning means that even if a Conservative Republican may have luck gaining the Party's selection, Republicans don't have a lot of support state-wide.
This NorthWest Cluster (Polarized, but Democrat-favored) will be difficult for the Republicans, because moving to the middle doesn't help them. The MidWest Cluster (less polarized because it has more Conservative Dems and more Moderate Republicans) gives them better opportunities.
It is a common, if cynical (Rovian?) political strategy to drive polarization and force the middle to choose. This works if you figure you have the confidence that they will fall down on your side.
When I track the rounds and watch how votes from lower candidates get distributed (see the table format), I notice that they split between Obama and Edwards, with minimal slippage toward Hillary. I guess that is no surprise, given the general popularity on MyDD (and DKos) of Edwards & Obama, and the unpopularity of Hillary.
Finally on the round that allocates Hillary's, Obama wins, but again, Hillary's votes are evenly split once more. I would really like to know if Hillary's supporters in the "real" world follow that pattern.
This does suggest, at least among the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, that Obama + Edwards wins over Hillary.
Excuse me, I mean, I couldn't have put it better myself.
Same thing about opposition to the Vietnam war circa 1970. The "new-left" was fundamentally (plus other things) about rejecting the "liberals" of the Democratic Party who supported the war. To be anti-imperialist contradicts the neo-liberal world view.
The other piece of it is the patriotic and psychological conservative, the authoritarian impulse and the desire of many (some) to have a strong leader who will make America strong, which is present in neo-liberal as much as in the neo-conservative. Another aspect of neo-liberalism is the fear of being labeled soft on comunism (oops, forward 20 years...) soft on terrorism, the self-loathing even that comes from internalizing the right-wing attacks.
Not all Democrats fear the right-wing accusation of "not supporting the troops". The neo-liberals do, but not the progressive wing.
Chris, your final example is the Dean campaign, but insurgent campaigns are not such rare events. In fact they are key, and they happen at state and local levels as well. In particular, insurgent campaigns are important in the Democratic primaries.
The establishment is strong because they have a certain amount of direct channels of control, patronage, mail-lists, funding networks. They have a vested interest in keeping things to the in-crowd, so they don't like getting the base riled up, least of all if the riled-up base starts growing.
The strength of the non-establishment Democrats is that we make up a huge portion of the rank and file of the party. We have a lot of influence at the caucus and primary levels, because we are the ones who vote and walk the districts.
So, we just need to create more of us...
Insurgent campaigns generate growth, excitment, passions and dedicated campaing workers, which is exactly where the establishment is most vulnerable. Party hacks can't completely control who runs, even if they have a lot of influence.
The Iraq war can be an issue that triggers a lot of insurgent candidates around the country, leading to a lot more non-establishment Democrats coming into the Party. The Republicans lost in 2006 more than the Democrats won. I expect mainstream voters to be really angry in 2008, and the right-wing voters to be more dispirited. What? They'r gonna be inspired to vote for more war.
I'll bet Obama drops next, and then the little game is over.
Media control, in particular control of television chains is extraordinarily important for conservative power around the world. I'm not talking about business newspapers like Wall Street Journal, rather the low-brow, scandal sheets targetted at a popular, if not ignorant, audience. It seems like every country has a media mogul running newspapers with bare bosoms or TV stations with lurid crime coverage. At election time they are positioned with audience control to feed name recognition, attack ads and scare tactics. Germany, Italy, Brazil, it happens everywhere, and they are reasonably successfull at demonizing the left and getting extreme right wingers elected.
(Conservattive religious control is the obvious other power center that supports the right-wing the world over.)
But, they aren't omnipotent. It is a sign of VRWC weakness that they have to rely on lies and fear-mongering. Sometimes the facts just get in the way, and that is our strength.
More important is to force the rest of the media to stay balanced and factual. Call them on their distortions. The VLWC is much, much bigger than the right wing if we count all the honest intellectuals, the working scientists and researchers. We don't have to fund so many left-wing think tanks, because reality is on our side. Maybe we just fund media watch-dogs and organizations to easily diseminate information.... we could call them blogs.
As Matt says, we need to confront the Fox news and the right-wing media here. It is a rare and sweet victory when a direct challenge like this wins. Let's look for many more!
Save the world. (Does that make Murtha the cheerleader, or is it Pelosi? Silar is represented by the Swift-Boat attackers going after Murtha?)
Great way to shift the framing, Chris!
The problem with the "cut off the funds" frame, is that it keys right into the right-wing mega-frame of Dems being soft on terror. The Republicans have been pretty clever with their media approach, daring if not insisting, that the Democarts put up or shut up on the issue, and trying to suck them into a PR mistake while diverting them from any real action.
It betrays their anxiety that the Democrats might actually do something, and it diverts attention from the progressive mega-frame that "Iraq was the wrong war, wrong time, wrong place, wrong enemy".
So the great thing about the frame "fund the troops, fund the withdrawal" is that it draws a new line on the sand (putting 56% of the public on our side of the line as you point out), without watering down the anti-war line.
However, further compromises with the conservatives in the Democratic Party would be counter-productive, even if it led to a line at the 67% popularity point. 2006 proved that being anti-war wins elections, and the Republicans are totally screwed in 2008 if Bush/Cheney/Republicans don't find a solution.
But, right-wing Democrats (i.e. the pro-war and pro-business wing) may also be screwed in 2008. Their support for the war has opened up a lot of space for the progressive side to run stronger candidates. If they continue to have a free pass pretending to be opposed to the war without actually doing anything, then we'd have a harder time running good candidates in the primaries.
Given the rules of the game, we don't completely have the power to force Bush to change course. Indirect pressure will be better. For example, reinstate taxes on the wealthy. Republican weakness on Iraq opens vulnerabilities on other fronts.
I've said it before, The Democratic Party can't force Bush out; Iraq changes only when the Republican Party realizes they are about to lose everything in the 2008 elections.
Therefore, the strongest thing we can do, is to work for good, anti-war candidates. For the most part, they will also be good on other issues, so it is a win-win for us.
The other interesting thing is that the unpopularity of the Iraq war weakens the conservative Dems at the same time.
Uh, I don't feel like Hillary is pissed as hell. Practical as hell, is more like it.
She is probably against the Iraq war (like everyone else), but is more concerned with consolidating the perception of her as a centrist. So, she shows mild criticism in order that she can't be accused of hurting the troops.
God forbid that she actually get pissed and chew out Cheney and Bush. I mean, that might get 20,000 people to your political rally.
At this point, it desn't matter which party pulls the plug. In fact, I'd put my money on the Republicans over the Democrats out of pure strategic interest.
All the responsible, establishment, bi-partisan strategists (Iraq Study Group, ex-generals, contributors to Foreign Affairs) have realized that Iraq is a total disaster. Only the right wing media and the Bush team are still pushing it, and they won't stop until the Republicans themselves throw them out.
It could happen pretty instantly, the moment a critical mass of Republicans realize they are following the "McCain formula for losing elections" over the cliff. The more a Republican supports the war the worse their chances in 2008. This is true at the primary level in red states, or in the general in purple states. It will be 2006 all over again if this continues, and the Republicans will lose another 3 or 6 percent of their partisans.
They are still talking pretty brave, but they are facing deep rot to the Republican brand. So, maybe the (admittedly cynical) strategy of hanging the Iraq war around the neck of all Republicans is the most direct route to actually ending the war. Any compromise legislation just gives them (both parties) cover to criticize the war without actually getting out of the war.
Hillary's (or Reid's) tepid anti-war stance is in the same category. She will get off the fence at the point where she realizes the gaping hole to her left is in danger of getting filled by a stronger anti-war candidate. However, these things have a way of snowballing, so I expect her to realize this a little too late, so we'll see her scrambling to follow rather than lead. In any case, she would surely get out of Iraq if elected, if merely to keep her job in 2012.
What pressure or threats would most cause the Parties (either party) or individual members of Congress to seriously worry about winning their reelections?
(1) Shake the fence. Drop the compromise resolutions. Bush will veto them anyway and they will just give cover to the fence-sitters. Just do things that play well to the press or public, like calling for a straight "up-or-down" vote of no confidence. "The war is a disaster, the Presidency has failed it's political contract with the public".
(2) Produce early, vocal, anti-war primary challenges.... for both parties. Obviously, Republicans in purple districts, but also any Democrats in Blue districts who aren't going to the mat with us on Iraq. The Blogosphere and Move-on could give early name recognition and early money to insurgent candidates on the Democratic side.
(3) Public mindshare. Given the saliency of the Iraq debacle on the general public, the louder the attacks on George Bush and Dick Cheney the more you will gain mindshare with the public. The press is moving that way as well. We in the blogosphere can amplify the voices of the good guys. Go for maximum public scorn. We've always had our 33%. The next 33% is already siding with us, so let's solidify their rejection of Bush, make it rub off on the rest of the conservatives and we'll have a better shot at consolidated an electoral transformation.
Cynical? Well, not nearly as cynical as Bush, Cheney and Liberman. Besides, I just told them how to save their political skins.
I actually met the guy who does legislative tracking and archival in Colorado, which is more of a recording job than anything. I've actually tried to look into State voting records, and couldn't find it anywhere, so I asked him how you would find out who voted for which bill. He thought for a minute and then agreed that it was practically impossible.