Thursday, September 04, 2014


As a Democrat, I'm supposed to be happy that my party's Senate nominee in Kansas, Chad Taylor, dropped out of the race -- as Princeton election wonk Sam Wong recently explained, this clears the field for someone who seems capable of beating Republican incumbent Pat Roberts -- Greg Orman, an independent candidate. Wang cites a Public Policy Polling survey showing that Orman would beat Roberts by 10 points in a two-man race, while Taylor would lose to Roberts by 4 in a two-man race. This despite the fact that Roberts has a job approval rating, according to the PPP survey, of 27%.

So whoopee -- the Republican might not win now, and the Senate might not tip to the GOP. But my question is: How toxic is the Democratic Party in Heartland America if a Democrat (and not a particularly lefty Democrat, as far as I know) can't beat a guy with a 27% approval rating? For that matter, why is Mitch McConnell, with a 37% job approval rating in the latest PPP survey of his state, beating Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes by 4 points?

Is it a ripple effect from Obama's job performance? Or from Obama's race? Or is it something more fundamental?

I keep hearing that there's an "emerging Democratic majority" out there -- women plus non-whites plus young people equals the death knell for the GOP. But it seems to me that outside the Northeast, the West Coast, certain portions of the Rust Belt and northern Midwest, and New Mexico and Hawaii, you've got more than half the country where white people just despise the Democratic Party, even if they don't love the Republicans.

I think it's the result of relentless right-wing propaganda (which alienates women/non-whites/young people but seems to be catnip to older white males) plus the way we fund our campaigns: the need for rich donors compels Democrats who want to win elections (up to and including the president) to curb any impulse that would genuinely help the middle class and poor. Ultimately I don't blame voters who wonder what the Democratic Party has done for them lately. (I'd say the answer is to limit the transfer of wealth from the non-rich to the rich, which Republicans openly cheer for and want to happen at a much faster pace.)

Some people think the GOP, as a party of old white men, may not survive much longer. I'm not one of those people. I suspect that today's younger white males will fill its ranks as they progress toward middle age, in response to the tribal pull of Republicanl propaganda. I just don't see the Democratic Party adding whites to its coalition, which might happen if it chose to sacrifice a few big-ticket donations and stressed a little more genuine kitchen-table economic progressivism. I can imagine a future in which there's nothing but a teabaggy Republican Party and a "Third Way" party that starts to the right even of the today's Democratic Party and then works rightward. Progressivism will be a boutique taste, maybe seen in Montpelier or Seattle, but not very many other places. If Democrats can never deliver on what they promise, why wouldn't this happen?


tgchicago said...

"I think it's the result of relentless right-wing propaganda..."

I agree with this, plus the "tribal" thing you mentioned. I sense that there are a decent number of people who are a bit right of center, but whose views are actually closer to mainstream Democratic Party positions than they are to the current Republican insanity. However, most of those people have self-identified as Republicans or conservatives for so long -- and have demonized Democrats and liberals -- that even though they can sense that the Republican party is lurching into crazytown, they can't conceive of voting for (ie "becoming") a dreaded Democrat.

A prominent example of this is Andrew Sullivan. I haven't read his blog in a couple years, but I recall that even as he was drifting away from the Republican party, he'd still feel a need to occasionally throw in a jab at "the left". Rarely would he include an actual person or organization or specific proposal or anything. He just needed to kick "the left" in order to feel anchored and secure. Even as he became a strong Obama supporter, he'd continue his loathing of the amorphous "left" boogeyman he needed to believe in. Because if there's not some evil entity to the left of him, then that means... horrors! ... HE has actually moved to the left! Say it isn't so!

Also, assuming people voted Republican during the GWB years, to switch now would mean admitting they were wrong before. People generally don't want to do that. (Sullivan often has, but most wouldn't)

Honestly, I think our best hope in regards to these noncrazy Republican voters is that they'll just stay home. I don't see any way to get them to actually pull a lever for a Democrat.

labradog said...

What does it say?
It says get the hell away from Kansas and its infestation of wingnut Jeezoid mouth-breathers.

Victor said...

FWI - KS hasn't put a Democratic Senator in DC, since FDR's time.

Inbreeding takes its toll, I guess.
I'm kidding.

But, Rush's show has declining ratings, and he doesn't have much time left.
So are the ratings of other Reich-Wing radio yakkers.

FOX's viewers are getting old.

And yes, there will be plenty of bigoted and resentful younger white men to take the place of the listeners and viewers - and I'm not saying we're nearing peak-wingnut - but I don't see as positive a future for conservatives as you do.

Look at some of the more recent Democratic Senators - Franken, Brown, Warren, Gillibrand, among others, and you'll see a more leftward shift.

Hopefully, the rest of them will see that it's pragmatic to be more progressive.

aimai said...

There is simply no point worrying about this. Realignments take time. People who are regular, older, voters will not switch their party line without some major force or disappointment. But that has nothing to do with what will happen in these regions in the long run. People will die off and their children will become, in some cases, more resistant to liberalism/multiculturalism but they won't have the numbers to overcome the new voters in twenty to thirty years. They just won't.

Yastreblyansky said...

Oh dear oh dear aimai I hope you're right.