Latin America Matters: Populist or Leftist?

Bumped, as part of the build-up to the Mexican elections--Chris

Latin America matters: 560 million people. 9th and 13th largest economies (Brazil & Mexico). 3rd largest recipient of US Military Aid (Columbia). Latin America enjoys considerable natural resources, but suffers from stark economic disparity, not to mention a history of US intervention.

Populist vs Leftist

While the US geopolitical attention has focused on Middle East oil resources and the rise of China as an economic power, closer to home a number of Latin American countries have recently undergone political shifts to the left. But do these changes follow the old populist, nationalist and demagogic line, or might they lead to real structural economic changes.

This exact question is pursued in a great six page article in Foreign Affairs by Jorge Castañeda Latin America's Left Turn. Castañeda resigned as Mexico's Foreign Minister in 2003, and is now a professor at New York University. He points out that a leftward tendency is inevitable when you have democracy in countries with great disparities in income and large class of poor people.

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What's the Matter with Larimer County (Colorado)

It appears that the Christian Right has taken over the GOP in Northern & Eastern Colorado. The moderate Republicans have tried to fight back. But, they don't have the ground game. Colorado ain't Kansas, and recently the anti-growth, anti-government, anti-tax movement has been rolled back by the voters, with the of support from small business Republicans. The right-wing may take over the GOP, but that is a formula for electoral failure.

Pacified at Soapblox Colorado called my attention to an in-depth article about the struggle for control of the Republican Party in Northern & Eastern Colorado. It was a bit hard to get a straight narrative out of Kate Martin's story in the Loveland Reporter-Herald, but you get the sense of two themes:

(1) The GOP right-wing (libertarian/anti-tax and christian/morality) have pretty much succeeded in taking over the Republican Party in CO-04. They apparently now control the delegate slates.

(2) The traditional small business, "Chamber of Commerce" Republicans don't have the Party committees or grassroots activists or in place to counter the extreme right. So they are forming extra-Party organizations and even bolting the Party (see my post on Marilyn Musgrave in CO-04).

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Musgrave Facing 3rd Party Challenge From Republican Moderate in CO-04

Marilyn Musgrave (hisss) appears to be in a three-way fight for CO-04 with moderate Republican Eric Eidsness jumping the GOP to run under the banner of the Reform Party. Eidsness isn't a random maverick, his credentials go back to Reagan's Cabinet and a six year stint with the EPA. The Dem in the race is Angie Paccione, an energetic, smart campaigner who already has the capability of challenging the evil lady in pink.

According to an article in the Denver Post, Eidsness faced intense pressure not to run against Musgrave in a primary. Also, the moderate wing within the Republican Party, has been unable to stand up to the extremist wing, led by hard-line Christians and the anti-tax/anti-government ideologues.

Will the third candidate give Republicans a way to vote against Musgrave without going Democrat, or will a moderate Republican pull votes away from Paccione? More, plus quotes from the Denver Post after the fold.

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Blowout Lessons 1994 vs 2006

2006 (like 1994) was an off year election. To win with lower turnout requires either:
 - Persuading Independents,
 - Turning out the base
 - Being lucky with complacent opponents

Blog Wisdom (BW) asserts that a Dem 2006 blowout will require leadership, not just Republican failure. We are frequently reminded these days that the Republican Party and George Bush are experiencing a lot of negatives right now: The 190th Do Nothing Congress, Failure in Iraq, Immigration. My local US Rep, Diana De Gette at the Denver County Assembly admitted the Dem strategy of standing by to watch the Republicans collapse, asserting something to the effect of: If they are failing just fine without us, intervening might disturb the process.

The lesson from the 1994 Republican blowout is one of GOP Positives, not Dem Negatives. Look at chart number 4 at the recent  "Public Disillusionment with Congress", which is directly linked to on the flip...

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Regional Differences in Democrat & Republican Coalitions

Following the 2004 election we became familiar with the maps of Blue, Red or Purple America. But what about the different groups that make up Democrat or Republican coalitions? These coalitions have a dramatically different breakdown in different parts of the country.

If we just look at Red vs Blue we are getting summary or aggregate information about voting patterns. To really understand the electorate we need to split the electoral spectrum into more detailed categories. Demographics and geography are two familiar ways to split the electorate. If we use opinion polling to group people by "psychographics", then we can go beyond demographics and identify Typologies or Clusters of voters based on shared values. Now we have a much richer political spectrum and we can ask more detailed questions like:

- Which part of the country is most liberal: the West or the East?
- What does the Republican coalition look like in the South or the West?
- Where do we find the most Independents or Bystanders?
- Do the national party platforms match up with regional issues or values?
- Why is it safe for a moderate Colorado Senator to take on the Christian Right?

The Pew Center Typology Report: "Beyond Red vs Blue" is a fascinating study that gives us a better understanding of how political values fold into political affiliations, and allows us to answer some of those questions. Sun-tzu pursued similar ideas in his recent polling project that was defined and supported by Chris Bowers and the MyDD community.

Short answers to some of the above questions:

- The West is 53% more liberal than the country as a whole, the East 24% more liberal.
- In the West, Liberal dems make up 27% of the electorate and 2/3 of the Democrat-identified.
- Social conservatives are over-represented in the South by 36% compared with the nation.
- Social conservatives are under-represented in the East & West (-28% and -24%).
- The West has 35% more "Bystanders" than the country as a whole.
- The Republican Party primarily counts on strong support in the South.

Graphic, details and wonkery below the fold

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A Latte a Day for 2006!

O
nly two things matter in politics: Numbers (voters, activists) and Money (advertising, staffing). Well yes, winning also matters, but winning is the goal; numbers and money are the means. The left-wing blogosphere has grown tremendously in the past year, but we need to be more than just talk-talk-talk, and outrage-of-the-day. The right-wing has patronage, corporate donors, and well-funded lobbyist. But, we have the numbers on our side. What if our collective outrage can be harnessed to something truly significant: Money. We can share the load. If each of us puts in a little, then it pretty soon it adds up to significant resources.

Put your money where your mouth is!

I
f I recall, when I was a kid my (Catholic) church suggested donating 10% of your income. This kind of tithing is widespread in many Christian churches and communities, especially in modest income families. Yes, poorer people give a higher percentage of income than richer people.

3% from a $3,000 per month salary would be $90 per month, less than a latte per day. I don't care if it goes to community organizing, Act Blue, community radio, an activist pressure group like Move On, your local democratic party or a local candidate. Donating regularly at the local level is effective because it starts to build your reputation as a player. Your next step could be to volunteer to do a house party with your neighbors or friends to meet your state representative.

I know, we all have financial pressures, and maybe your political budget will be half-a-latte per day. Or, maybe you are doing okay this year and can double up because it is an election year.

Diaries

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