Democrats Win Big Across U.S. in ’08 Elections
This is not gloating, honest. But in the wake of Pres.-Elect Obama’s victory, there is a debate among pundits as to whether or not we “are still a center-right” country (we are compared to parts of Europe, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada, but not in a global sense–and Canada just reelected the Conservative Party with a bigger majority and the National Party just won in New Zealand, while conservative parties won recent elections in Germany and France, too and the Tories seem poised to make a comeback in the U.K.). Conservatives and Republicans seem to be claiming that Obama needs to govern just like a Republican or face a “Gingrich Revolution” in ’10. Well, it’s true that Obama has to be successful or be rejected. And it’s true that he has to move to the left in a smarter fashion than Clinton did in ’93-’94. But the quickest way for him to lose the support of those who elected him would be for him to weasel on his campaign promises.
No mandate for change? Really, GOP pundits? George W. Bush claimed to have “political capital” that he was going to spend when he won re-election by less than 1% of the popular vote in ’04–about a million votes. Obama won 52.3% of the popular vote to McCain’s 46.2%–with the rest taken up by 3 party candidates and write-ins. He appears to have won by over 7 million votes (and counting since not all absentee ballots and overseas ballots have been counted). He has won 365 electoral votes (including NE-02), short of a technical landslide (375 and above), but the largest presidential victory since Ronald Reagan. That’s a convincing mandate. He won states long considered Republican strongholds including: Virginia (last voted Dem. in a presidential race in ’64), North Carolina (’76), Indiana (’64), Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Iowa, and the swing states of Ohio, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. In many states that Obama didn’t carry, he came closer than anyone could have expected, including Missouri, Georgia, North Dakota, & Montana. That looks like a mandate to me.
Further, this is the second election cycle in a row (first in ’06) that voters decisively rejected Republicans from coast to coast–even in states McCain carried at the presidential level: In ’06, Dems picked up a total of 20 seats in the House of Representatives. In ’08, Dems picked up an additional 24 seats. In the Senate, Dems took control in ’06 by 1 vote. In ’08 they added at least another 5 seats (with 2 races yet to be called–Alaska and Minnesota, the latter so close it needs an automatic recount to begin in mid-November–and one race, Georgia, requiring run-off election in December). When the voters hit your party that hard 2 cycles running, you are not connecting with them. They have moved considerably from where you are.
Here is the map of Obama’s electoral win:
And here is a chart that shows which states went more Democratic and by how much. It is determined by how much of the vote that Obama received in that state (whether or not it was called for him or McCain) and seeing how much more or less that was than the amount that Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) received in his ’04 run for the presidency. Note that only Five States shifted to the right: Arkansas (R+5), Louisiana (R+5), Oklahoma (R+4), Tennesee (R+4), and West Virginia (R +4). The other 46 states moved left in varying degrees. (This chart shows that only 22 counties in the U.S. moved in a more Republican direction this year.)
The argument that “America is a center-right country” is based on the fact that voters tell exit-pollsters that they like the terms “conservative,” or “moderate,” better than “liberal.” But this only means that the Right has succeeded since 1980 in demonizing the WORD “liberal” (and, to a lesser extent, “progressive”). But if you ask about their values and the role they see government playing, you get a very different story. In both ’06 and ’08, voters told exit pollsters that they wanted the war in Iraq to end quickly, that they believed in progressive taxation, that they favored universal healthcare and were willing to pay somewhat more in taxes to get it, that they wanted strong action to protect the environment, etc. Only on gay rights (sadly), do conservatives win on the issues. We clearly have work to do there.
But, as this link shows, the majority of Obama voters (and he won, remember?) said that government needed to do more to help people while the majority of McCain voters (the losing side) said that government was doing too much to help. That’s a “liberal” view. America is a moderate nation moving from a long captivity by Movement Conservatism leftward. I expect us to be further center-left by the end of Obama’s first term–and the center itself to have moved in 8 years.
Republicans are in trouble: Their latest (failing) campaign pitted rural areas against cities when 80% of Americans live in cities or their surrounding suburbs. So, Palin-style appeals to “real America” lose elections. Republicans are now a minority party dominant only in the South and parts of the West (and Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida show that the South is no longer “solid). Republicans are 93% white in a country where whites are only 66% of the population–and by 2050 (at the outside) there will be no racial/ethnic majority in this country. Whites will only be the largest minority–a plurality. So, if Republicans keep losing African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asians (and Obama won all these groups), they will stay in the wilderness. If they have no message for cities, they stay in the wilderness. If they keep losing women (51% of the country), they stay in the wilderness. The sooner the GOP figures this out, the better for them. But if they want to stay in denial, this Democrat has no problem seeing them using the same tired old slogans and losing. The Republicans began to win after WWII by making peace with the New Deal. But since 1980, the GOP has been trying to destroy the New Deal–and this finally became apparent in complete starkness to Americans in ’05 when the GOP tried to privatize Social Security and then when it sat by and watched New Orleans drown and did nothing.
Reaganism and Reaganomics are dead.
UPDATE: The Hoover Institution, one of the oldest conservative think tanks in the U.S., now admits that the “center-right” conservative talking point is false. The Hoover Institution admits that the U.S. is now a “center-left” society.
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