Everytime the discussion turns to how well the Democats are doing in Colorado, I point out that it is a purple state, not a blue state. Statewide democratic candidates that win tend to be cautiously conservative, rather than dramatically populist (let alone progressive). The rural, small-town, exurban, and suburban West tends to be fairly conservative. Lotta Christian-right in them thar hills.
Colorado ends up purple-blue almost entirely because Denver is a very liberal Urban area and the Denver metro area is almost half the state's population. That makes Colorado more like Washington, Oregon and California, than Idaho, Montana and even Kansas for that matter.
In other words, any of these lightly populated states WITHOUT an urban center is dominated by Conservative and sometimes arch-conservative views. The liberal Urban center is the critical counterweight to the conservative rural/exurban. It makes me interested in whether Atlanta plus the black population of Georgia could provide us with a Democratic opportunity in the South.
Can the Mtn West vote Democrat?
Well, we saw that populist and libertarian values gave Tester a win in Montana and Gary Trauner an almost win in Wyoming. However Madrid's loss in the Albuquerque area shows that merely being a democrat is insufficient, you also have to be a good candidate.
Also important for this analysis, is the fact that the Rocky Mountain West doesn't really contribute a lot of voters, electoral votes or US representatives when compared with other areas, such as the Midwest or the South. As Paul Rosenberg pointed out, let's look to flipping Ohio which has a large population and solid Democratic traditions, such as Unions. (The West is lightly unionized).
Maybe we don't have enough legislative power at the moment to stop Bush. We do have some influence as opinion drivers, so let's help consolidate public opinion, and make 2008 into a transformational election. This feeds Chris's suggestion of yesterday about running primary candidates.
Maybe 1/3 of the public has always sat in the "Bush-true-believer" corner. We are in the 1/3 who "we-never-drank-the-koolaid" category. A lot of Democratic legislators cautiously straddle the middle, meaning they worry about the 1/3 in the middle, who are less committed, who (they think) might be swayed back to the Republican column if Bush waves the bloody flag, or goes into Iran or something. Wars are known to whip up patriotism.
On the other hand, a disaster like Iraq can be a watershed event that flip the other way.
The key is to help the snowball of public opinion rolling downhill a little faster. Insurgent candidates do very well if they are riding a lot of anger, and these things have a way of overshooting, so it could easily take out more Conservative Democrats as well as Republicans. Hillary will be in deep doo-doo if she doesn't get off the fence.
Bush wading deeper into the big muddy, US influence weakening world wide, and the present disaster in Iraq plays right into our hand, discrediting the Republican Party, and even discrediting the right-wing of the Democratic Party. Congress fiddles while the snowball rolls faster, convincing the middle 1/3 to vote out the bums who got us into this mess.
Assume present trends continue. We will see a small or big continuation of the 2006 election trends. Republican Party losses will mount, and Conservative Dems will be replaced by more liberal ones.
How can we position ourselves to take advantage?
I know that the Democratic Party activists on the ground are a whole lot more liberal than the elected Dems, and a whole lot more anti-war. They (we) can have a huge influence in the primaries, if we have challengers ready to go. Perhaps the Iraq issue can have a major impact at the state level, for example, let's see some candidates for Governor demanding: "Bring back our National Guard".
Bush and the Republicans are playing right into our hands on this.
I like Edwards because he is placing poverty and class issues front and center in his campaign. Universal Health Care, Educational opportunity, progressive tax structure... in that regard, he is the strongest counter to the Republicans of the top contenders.
It is also true that we have a Republican President in thrall to a neocon foreign policy. I expect the Democrats to be timid and mixed in their ability to counter this while Republicans hold the presidency, but any of them as president would be far, far better than Bush & Cheney, even Hillary Clinton, who is the most ansious to prove she isn't soft on the Middle East.
In my view, ANY Democratic president would not pursue wars of aggression abroad, and would ease back from Iraq. But, they differ in important ways when it comes to domestic issues.
A lot of people are fundamentally alienated....from their jobs, or their personal life perhaps, but most of all from politics. People are disengaged from politics because the system doesn't involve them or meet their needs, and it is so much easier to just watch serials or sports on TV. "They're all the same." I don't make a difference".
I speak as someone who lives by creating community. I teach and organize events. I get people involved, build confidence, challenge and inspire. I create situations and social environments for them to combat that alienation, and feel successful, like maybe someone will hear them and they can make a difference.
It is fundamental to get people re-engaged.
You get engaged readers by having a dialogue them. You build an active community by an exchange of give and take. I'ts always about community.
The biggest issue with the Democrat Party, is that anyone with gumption and skills who walks in the door is blown just blown off. That is a worse problem than machine politics where they actively prevent new blood from participating.
MyDD is the same in its own way, serving its own niche of people who are really interested in the political nuts and bolts. And, it does no good to just say "we're the ultra-serious blog" so we don't need to engage with our readers. That's BS.
Why? Because, we need a factor of 10 more readers, participation, and energy to make the big impact necessary to change the world, or the democratic beast, anyway.
You gotta get them off the couch, and out of the habit of just consuming. Dialogue with them, challenge them, respond to the questions, reward them and maybe we get people back in the street or making the Democratic Party more effective.
Powell's internal channels weren't agreeing with the go-to-war analysis from the White House, but what real freedom did he have to go against the tide. Eventually Powell realized he'd been scammed, and then he was eased out, or eased himself out.
Lawrence Wilkerosn (Powell's cheif of staff), produced some truly scathing commentary, on the Iraq war, and you know he wouldn't have done that without some permission from his boss.
My only issue is that the "weak on defense" meme is much older and more significant than specific arguments about the Vietnam war. Those fights about getting out of Vietnam were manipulated to help build the perception of Republicans as "strong men who will defend us". Remember, most of the Democratic Party supported the war from beginning to near the end, and Nixon was the loser who was forced by failure to win the war and by popular sentiment to withdraw. The parallels and pitfalls with the present situation are obvious.
"Weak on Defense vs Strong Leadership" is about feeding a psychology of insecurity and authoritarianism, which is certainly a Conservative framing of the issue, if not a more fundamental appeal to the tribal nature of our species.
I also agree that any "serious" Democratic candidate at the presidential level has no choice but to keep options open wrt use of US force and the projection/protection of American interests, i.e. they have to be very careful about how they oppose the Republican disaster in Iraq. People do want security, even if Americans are are also farily isolationist.
So, the "strong-defender of our civilization" plays very well. Maybe, a counter meme could be: "strong-defender against those who abuse of our trust in an unwarranted war", or "someone who won't run around hitting hornets nests".
AT THE MOMENT, Clinto gets a lot of black support. I'm sure a lot of it comes from long-standing respect for Bill, plus she is the one with the greatest name recognition. Even if this is true, it is an indication that Obama isn't (yet) recognized name-wise or as a significant enough player by the black voters.
I expect this to change.
I shouldn't have been so hyperbolic with the numbers. What percentage of Clinton's support is Black? Maybe enough to make a 10 point shift. The importance is within the Democratic primaries, in those state with significant black population.
I'm suggesting that strong passion and enthusiasm could build better turnout even in the General.
I've mostly supported Edwards because he speaks up about the class divide, and I value Health Care, Education Opportunity and Economic Fairness.
I felt Obama was a newcomer, but I was intrigued by the support he gets in Illinois that crosses race and even political differences. Ezra Klein pointed out a very good article about Obama's earlier career, that leads me to believe he is the real deal.
Clinton still pulls a lot of support from african americans, but watch what happens if the black community decides Obama is for real. I'll bet he bumps to 40% and it all comes out of Clinton's numbers. Obama will have a huge advantage in any democratic state with a large black population, which obviously doesn't include IA, NH and NV. That early disadvantage isn't serious if Obama really has a strong core of support with blacks.
Black voting turnout is typically lower, but a passionate, engaged black vote would make a huge impact within the democratic party, and may lead to higher voting turnout in a general election.
Maybe Obama wins the South? This isn't just because a number of Southern states have large black populations. I think he is genuinely appealing to white voters.
If I were Obama's campaign, I would already be touring the South working on this broader appeal.
Some bloggers are like working journalists, others like editors-in-chief who own their own magazine. Some of the more established blogs have put considerable time and effort into building up an audience and net-presence that they probably don't want to lose. There is a certain ego (in the good sense) in running your own publishing empire, that mitigates against selling-out.
There are also good writers who perhaps should be building up careers as well-distributed commentators in tradtional newspapers, magazines, or even book contracts. I wouldn't call that selling out.
On the other hand, those who do jump to being employed by a campaign have certain obligations that make it impossible to really be independent. I'm pretty confident that the campagin organizations are going to be very tight on messaging, and that they'll keep the on-staff blogger on a fairly short leash.
Let's say the sell-out vs transformation is as bad as 90/10 (more sell-out than transformative). I'll be happy to get the 10% transformation, despite suffering the 90% sell-out. The 90% will hopefully assist in electing good candidates, and hopefully take a good campaign and make it more effective.
The technology of blogging itself has a positive nature even in the hands of a top-down campaing. The internet does enable access (up and down) to the grass roots. Distributed funding from many individuals is better than relying on big donors. Anything that balances smaller voices against the big players is better for the Democrats than the Republicans.
Politics and Party
I'm hoping that the distributed nature of the Internet and blogging will help make the political process more inclusive.
Perhaps we can even hope for the transformation of the Democratic Party apparatus itself. More small activists everywhere instead of having so much controlled by the well-connected establishment players.
While the establishment feels threatened if the people gain a voice, the Party does need re-invigoration.
A capital project is something specific, focused, enabling. It is easier to sell donors on a new radio transmitter, or a computer server farm, or a database computer, than to fund the engineer, the web-designer, or the DB administrator.
I think it is about making something concrete and visible to the donor. "If only we had this higher-power transmitter, our radio signal could reach 150,000 more people". There is sort of an expectation that you can raise money for on-going operations, but need a special boost for a special project.
It may be possible to fund salaries by framing it as a subscription or ongoing-operating budget.
"We run a tight operation, but in order to bring you our continuing services, we need 200 people at 100 per quarter which will pay office expenses and two salaries. Every subscription is matche 1 for 1 by a matching grant from a major donor. So far we have 50 people signed up to support us. Sign up now to get double the impact."
Matt can speak for himself, but I've never noticed him being particularly anti-Edwards.
On the other hand, the quick condemnation of Edwards and the tone of it in response to Matt's post, is a sign of trollers trying to create a negative meme. I don't recognize a lot of the sigs as long-term MyDD-ers.
Foreign Policy is not easily defined by liberal or conservative positions, which I hate to admit, as I'm also from the left side of the spectrum. Edwards was stating the obvious, putting forth a position more or less in the middle of US foreign policy goals, not a fringe, right-wing idea.
Truly, we don't want more members of the nuclear club, least of all in countries controlled by religious fanatics (not just Iran, BTW). Ultimately, enforcing this requires a credible threat of attack (which I am not advocating, as there are a lot of alternatives not being used at the moment).
The Bush invasion of Iraq and the administration approach to Iran is a looming disaster, as it appears to create the opposite of the desired effect: sustain Ahmadinejad is in power, and create insecurity in Iran that actually ecourages them to develop nuclear weapons. Could this be intentional?
Carrots, the threat of a big stick and diplomacy would go a long way to resolving the issue of Iran. There are many groups within Iran that would welcome change to a more moderate if not liberal government there.
What is the biggest threat to Ahmadinejad remaining in power?
The present government of Iran is maintained by cheap gasoline and income from oil exports. Let's put in place policies that would drop the world price of oil to the low $40s: oil taxes, mileage requirements, subsidies for conservation, alternatives, peace in Iraq. That would kick a big leg out from under Iran's theocracy.
Looking through the comments, most of them disagree that migration is causing major political shifts, even where there is a lot of migration.
That is also my feeling, but maybe there are specific areas where migration does make a difference:
- Retirees from Midwest or Northeast moving to Arizona or Florida
- White flight from cities to the Suburbs
- Ethnic growth in older, near-in Suburbs
You also have a lot of hispanic immigrants moving to certain states, which increases the population and therefore the electoral influence without adding many actual voters. This would amplify already existing voting tendencies.
Demographics of immigrants is more influential than where they came from, I think.
Colorado has always had Conservative as well as Liberal segments of the population. It has had plenty of in-migration, but just as many newcomers are from Texas as California, not to mention New York, New Jersey and Illinois. You can't really say we're gaining more blue voters from California than red voters from Texas.
Historically and of its own accord, Colorado has been fairly Conservative in a Western-Rural sort of way, similar to Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, etc. This kind of conservatism included a strain of rugged individualism, that could be Libertarian at times or pro-gun at other times. Reagan didn't win due to population changes, so much as the national mood and appealling to the already present anti-government populism.
But also, the native Liberal strain in Colorado has also been strong, with environmentalism polling well with hunters as well as granola hippies. Colorado has always been fairly well-educated, which correlates with socially liberal positions.
Even though in-migration has been huge in the last 40, 20 or even 10 years, Colorado's liberal or conservative swings have had less to do with immigration from red or blue areas, and more to do with demographics of the immigrants, who are probably younger, wealthier, whiter, more educated and high-techier when compared to the national average.
Maybe you could say that the Colorado Springs area had a special attraction for conservative Christian immigrants, but you also see mega-churches in Ft Collins and Denver Suburbs.
Specific growth areas of the state
If you look at the big growth areas in Colorado, like South Suburbs of Denver, Colorado Springs (South) and Ft Collins/Greeley (North), you notice that these are all upper-middle class, traditional family and ethnically white. Demographically, these fairly conservative segments.
These are balanced by young professionals and reasonable ethnic diversity in Denver central and near-in suburbs.