Tuesday, November 20, 2018


Democratic congressman Tim Ryan, one of the leaders of the campaign to deny Nancy Pelosi the speakership, says that his party is too regional:
“We raise all of our money from the coasts, and our leadership is from the coasts—[Senate Minority Leader Chuck] Schumer’s from New York and Pelosi’s from California,” he says, adding that of the Democrats currently running for the top six leadership slots in the House, only New Mexico Rep. Ben Ray Lujan hails from a land-locked state.... “I think it’s a real blind spot because it ends up making us look like coastal elites. We walk right into the narrative, you know?”
At the Washington Examiner, Paul Bedard concurs:
Nearly 7 in 10 Democrats in the new House majority are from the East and West coasts, the latest sign of the party’s lack of connection with the heartland and South.

And even more dramatic, there will be more Democratic members from liberal California than from 36 other states combined, according to an analysis from the bipartisan Washington firm Mehlman, Castagnetti, Rosen, and Thomas.

“Democrats now dominate the coasts,” said the election analysis.
There'll be more House Democrats from California than from a large number of other states combined primarily because there are so many House members overall from California -- California has 53 House members, more than the 21 smallest states combined. And in the map below I see blue all across the country, except in sparsely populated Idaho Wyoming, Montana (which retains its Democratic senator), and the Dakotas -- whereas Republicans have no House members at all from New England.

Does anyone remember the Republican Party of the 1990s? Here was the congressional leadership that emerged from the 1996 election:
Senate Majority Leader: Trent Lott of Mississippi

Senate Majority Whip: Don Nickles of Oklahoma

Speaker of the House: Newt Gingrich of Georgia

House Majority Leader: Dick Armey of Texas

House Majority Whip: Tom DeLay of Texas
I never heard a pundit say that Republicans were out of touch with a significant portion of America because they were so concentrated in the South. At most I heard that eventually the GOP would pay for this regionalism, as America underwent demographic change. And while this party led us to an impeachment most of America didn't want and Gingrich eventually fell, the next presidential election put Republican George W. Bush -- from Texas -- in the White House.

It's possible that Democrats will need to expand their appeal now. It's also possible that Democratic "regional values" aren't really regional. Democrats this year flipped House seats in Kansas, Oklahoma, Georgia, and possibly Utah. Democrats nearly won a governor's race in Georgia and a Senate seat in Texas. And why not? The Southern-based GOP expanded its influence in the 21st century to the Midwest. Democratic "coastal" values might be spreading to parts of America far from any ocean.

(Tim Ryan quote via Charlie Pierce.)

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