NDN Blog

Looking ahead to 2008: Dems have momentum

An upbeat piece from Reuters about Dems having momentum going into 2008:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The 2008 White House race opens in a political landscape transformed by Tuesday's election, with resurgent Democrats seeing new opportunities and wounded Republicans pointing fingers and counting casualties.

Some potential White House contenders, including Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts and Republican Sens. George Allen of Virginia and Bill Frist of Tennessee, suffered setbacks that likely took them out of contention.

Democrats solidified support in the Northeast and Midwest, continued their growth in the West and picked up governors' offices in battleground states like Ohio and Colorado that could give them an advantage in 2008.

"Rather than being beleaguered and lost, we have a national victory in all parts of the country and go into this two-year cycle with more momentum than we've had in 14 years," said Simon Rosenberg, president of NDN, a centrist Democratic group.

Republicans bickered over what caused the voter anger at President George W. Bush and Republican leadership that cost them control of Congress. Some questioned whether the party could be successful with a message crafted primarily for core conservative supporters.

"The Republican Party will have to decide whether they want to win in 2008 or whether they are willing to impale themselves on the point of doctrinaire conservatism," Republican consultant Rich Galen said.

But conservative leaders said Republican leaders in Congress needed to return to the ideas that first helped them win government control.

"If they hope to return to power in 2008, they must rediscover the conservative principles that resonated with the majority of Americans in the 1980s," said the Rev. James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family.....""

The nation is already on a new course

As I wrote in our quick post-election analysis this week, the nation not only voted for a new course, but a more progressive one.   And within days of the election we can already see signs of how different the next two years are going to be.  

On Wednesday the President fired Donald Rumsfeld and offered to work with the Democrats on minimum wage and comprehensive immigration reform, two issues blocked repeatedly by the Congressional Republicans (and aggressively supported by the members of NDN). 

The headlines this morning are about troop withdrawals, fixing the alternative minimum tax, labor dusting off their agenda, Joe Lieberman not just caucusing with the Democrats but being a Democrat, a rethink of our anti-terrorism strategy, bi-partisanship, and features quotes from folks Charlie Rangel, Rahm Emanuel, Chuck Schumer, etc. 

Tuesday's elections were a mandate for change.  The nation already feels different, as if a difficult and contentious time is ceding to perhaps a more constructive, optimistic one.  As progressives our role should be to keep it at that level, thoughtful, constructive, focused on solving the big problems of the day.  Of course we will have disagreements along the way, but if our politics is driven by the same sense "that we are all in this together" that many are advocating for our public philosophical approach, then we will have to show that in our daily behavior towards one another and of course those on the other side of the ideological debate.

Voters deliver a mandate for a new economic strategy

Over the last few months, NDN has been part of a broad progressive campaign to explain why the American economy was not delivering the type of broad-based prosperity this country needs. This week, American voters delivered a clear and unmistakable mandate for action on our economy. The facts are simple: during the Clinton era, the average family income increased by more than $7,000; but in the Bush era the average family has actually seen their income decline by more than $1,000. And the results this week make it clear that this lack of upward mobility was a critical issue in removing the Republicans from power.

There is a prevailing wisdom emerging that this election was about the Iraq war. This is only partially correct. Of course, Iraq mattered. But the exit polls and post-election analysis make it clear that the economy mattered a grea deal, perhaps even more than Iraq. The economy was a deciding factor in key battleground states, and was especially important for swing voters. Moreover, voters who felt the economy was doing badly were overwhelmingly more likely to vote Democrat (all exit polls referenced are the official national exit polls which can be found here).

  • The economy was the most important issue. The exit poll asked voters if they considered various issue important in deciding their vote. If you add up those who responded - where issues were extremely, very, or somewhat important - the economy comes out number one.

Table 1: Which issue was most important?

Issue

Extremely Important

Very Important

Somewhat Important

Total

Economy

39% 43% 14% 96%
Corruption 41% 33% 18% 92%
Iraq 35% 32% 21% 88%
Terrorism 39% 33% 20% 82%
Moral Values 36% 21% 20% 77%


  • Economy Crucial in Battleground States. The economy played a critical role in the key battleground states that decided the election. In these areas the results could not be clearer: the economy was the number one issue. The exit poll asked voters in key swing states about Iraq and the Economy. In each swing state more voters thought the economy was either “extremely important” or “very important” in their decision over who to vote for their senator.

Table 2: Economy vs Iraq in Key Senate Races

Economy Iraq
Missouri 83% 62%
Montana 82% 65%
Ohio 83% 66%
Pennsylvania 81% 68%
Virginia 82% 69%

 

  • Economy Plays Big with Swing Voters. Stan Greenberg’s post-election analysis shows that Iraq was the dominant issue for the majority of voters. However, Greenberg is clear that the economy was the second most important issue overall, and that it played a disproportionately important role in persuading swing voters who were considering voting for the Democrats. Among this group of swing voters 51% cited economic issues like gas prices, while 38% cited jobs and the economy. Only 23% cited Iraq.
  • Only 30% of Americans believe they are getting ahead. The exit poll in two separate questions about the perception of their own economic situation, only 30 percent said their own economic situation had improved in recent years. And remarkably, the same number – only 30% - said they believed the life of the next generation would be better than theirs. Of those who felt they had prospered voted about 2:1 for the Republicans. For those who were struggling, they voted the opposite way, 2:1 for the Democrats.
  • Those struggling to get ahead voted Democrat. Additional questions confirm how much a factor perceptions of the economy were in driving the Democratic vote. Those who thought the economy was “excellent” voted overwhelmingly for the Republicans (86% vs 13%.). Democrats easily carried those who thought the economy was either “not good” (74% vs 23%) or “poor” (85% vs 13%.).

All of this added together clearly shows that the American people want the new Democratic majorities in the House and Senate to focus and pursue an aggressive strategy to help them and their families get ahead.

This administration’s economic record has left America weaker, and the American people worse off. This election year, the American people held them accountable. Now it is time for action.

------------------
Also check out these links:
The Economic Debate: Bring it on (October, 2006)
Read our memo on The Bush Economic Record (September, 2006)
Read our memo on Rebuilding the National Consensus on Trade
(September, 2006) 

Quick post-election analysis: Republicans no longer the dominant party

- Last night the American people made it clear that they had grown weary of the failures and partisanship of the Bush era, wanted a new direction, and got one. After giving Republicans the nation in 1994, the American people just gave the nation back to the Democrats. Democrats now have a majority in the House, among governors and state legislative chambers, and apparently the US Senate.

- With these Democratic gains in all regions of the country the American people have not only choosen a new direction, but a more progressive one. While many of the newly elected Democrats will join the Blue Dog and New Democrat caucuses, in almost every instance the Democrat who won their race was ideologically to the left of the Republican they beat. Every type of Democrat won last night, Northeastern, Midwestern, Southern, Texan, Western, liberal, moderate, conservative and many whose ideology defies easy description and should be best described just as a Democrat.

- The Republicans can no longer be called the dominant party in American politics, as Democrats are now clearly competitive in all regions of the country. 42 of the 50 states either have a Democratic Senator or Governor (The 8 states without a major statewide Dem are AK, AL, GA, KY, MS, SC, TX and UT). The country remains, however, very evenly divided. Both parties now competitive in all regions of the country, with Republicans largely holding on their advantage in the South and Democrats making gains in Florida, the North, Mid-West and West. It is fair to say that heading into 2008 neither party hold a significant advantage, and the GOP/conservative ascendency has ended. It is a "jump ball" for control in 2008 with both parties starting out evenly matched, without a great advantage and Democrats perhaps having a little more wind at their back.

- It was a day of reckoning for the conservative movement. As we wrote yesterday in an election day essay, "Given the extraordinary failure of conservative government to do the very basics - keeping us safe, fostering broad-based prosperity, protecting our liberties, balancing the books and not breaking the law - I think history will label this 20th century conservatism a success as a critique of 20th century progressivism, but a failure as a governing philosophy. It never matured into something more than an ivory-tower led and Limbaugh-fed correction to a progressivism that had lost its way."

- The exits showed that voters had many issues on their minds - Iraq, corruption, terrorism and the economy. There was no one single issue driving the outcome, but the unexpectedly high number of people citing "corruption" or "scandals" signals to me a real desire for leadership that focuses on solving the people's business rather than playing politics. In many ways this is the most important message of the election, and from listening to Pelosi and others last night one Democrats clearly understand. The Republicans lost because their government did not what it needed to do for the Ameican people. To succeed Democrats will have to focus not on politics and positioning but doing everything they can to work with the Republicans to solve the many problems facing the nation.

- Most of the gains for Democrats in the House came in the Mid-West and Industrial North, the older and more settled regions of the country. Democrats won two Southern seats, two in Florida and three in the Southwest but overall did not make major gains in the Sunbelt. More gains in these areas may come with the 8 or so races in recounts right now. Democrats got their new House majority without making major gains in the South, and are now the first non-southern based Congressional Majority since 1955. The Senate followed a similar pattern, with most of the gains in the older regions of the country.

- The new Democratic Congressional Majority has all the attributes one normally associates with majorities - ideological, generational and regional diversity. This new Democratic team is a diverse lot, from all regions of the country, from rural, exurban, suburban and urban areas. Leading this team isn't going to be easy, nor will it be easy to predict where it goes on major issues. An early test of Speaker Pelosi will be to guide her new team towards consensus on Iraq and the budget.

- Looking ahead to 2008, it is clear that Democrats have strengthened their position in the electoral college. Their base in the North has deepened; the great swing state of Ohio has become much more Democratic; they continued to make gains in the West; add an angered and trending Democrat Latino population, and an already trending-Democratic Southwest looks much more Democratic.

- The Republican Presidential field took a big hit last night. Allen and Frist now seem damaged beyond repair, but the big loser of the night was John McCain. He has hitched himself to the President's failed Iraq policy, which will be seen today as the main reason why the Republicans did so poorly at the polls.

- Even the two good stories for the GOP last night, the CA and FL governor's races, have bad news for Bush and his brand of Republicanism. Both Arnold and Charlie Crist publically distanced themselves from Bush, with Crist doing it very publically just this past Monday before the election by not showing up at a Bush rally designed to help him.

- The Democratic bench has gotten much deeper and stronger in the past few years. Not only are there many more Democrats elected to offices across the country, there are many more powerful and compelling leaders emerging. In addition to already successful Democrats like Warner, Edwards, Napolitano, Granholm, Richardson and Sebelius we now can add Deval Patrick, Eliot Spitzer, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Martin O'Malley, Bob Menendez, Rahm Emanuel, Barack Obama, Artur Davis, Antonio Villaraigosa, Gabriel Giffords, Gavin Newsom and many others to the growing pool of exciting, next generation leaders with a big future ahead.

- A sign of changing times. Our new Speaker is a woman, the Democratic frontrunner for President in 2008 is a woman, and the possible Presidential candidate with the most buzz is a young African-American Senator from the Mid-West.

John McCain is the big loser tonight

Events of recent weeks have changed the outlook for 2008. 

On the Republican side, Frist and Allen have been very damaged.  Many of the other leading candidates - Romney, Guliani, Gingrich - have significant problems.  And their frontrunner, John McCain, has been damaged by his embrace of the President's failed policy in Iraq, the issue that is causing the GOP so much trouble.  McCain has also been weakened in the Republican Primary universe, as his championing of immigration reform has made him unacceptable to a sizeable part of a the electorate he needs to win his nomination. Their frontrunner and field look much less formable then a few days ago. 

On the Democratic side, Warner's exit and Kerry's stumbles have opened the door for Barack Obama much wider.  If he gets in, the Democratic field all of a sudden looks much more interesting, dynamic and stronger than the weakened Republican field. 

In terms of the electoral college, the Dems have significantly strengthened their national position.  They have deepened their hold on their base in the northern part of the country.  Ohio, the most important swing state in the country, has swung wildly towards the Democrats.  More gains will be made in the West, a region of the country trending much more Democrat.  In the West, immigration has dramatically alienated Lations from the Republicans, further pushing states like AZ, CO, NM and NV towards the Democrats. 

Looking ahead to 2008, I think it is fair to say that Democrat's chances have significantly improved in recent weeks, and the big loser of the night is John McCain. 

A day of reckoning for the conservative movement

I was 17 when Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980.  Since then the great back story of American politics has been the ascendency of the conservative movement, and its ally, the Republican Party.  One of the big questions we will all be talking about in the days to come will be whether or not this story of conservative ascendency has come to an end, and whether we are entering a new period in American history. 

I believe we are.   

The last 100 years of American politics can be put into three rough historical periods.  Period 1 ran from TR to FDR, and was a battle for the mastery of a new reform-minded and modern politics eventually captured by the Democrats, and philosophically located squarely in the progressive camp.  Period 2 was FDR to Reagan, and was an era of Democratic ascendency and consolidation of power, and a triumph of progressive values.  Period 3, the conservative ascendency, began in 1980 and saw great triumph in 1994, and again in this decade.  Today as a result of their recent success, the Republican Party and the conservative movement has more political and ideological control over the government than any time since the 1920s. 

The question about conservatism has always been could it mature enough as a governing philosophy to replace 20th century progressivism, and provide America with a true alternative governing approach? I believe the Bush era has answered that question, and the answer is no.  Given the extraordinary failure of conservative government to do the very basics - keeping us safe, fostering broad-based prosperity, protecting our liberties, balancing the books and not breaking the law - I think history will label this 20th century conservatism a success as a critique of 20th century progressivism, but a failure as a governing philosophy.  It never matured into something more than an ivory-tower led and Limbaugh-fed correction to a progressivism that had lost its way.

Despite the many billions spent in building this modern conservative movement, history will label it a grand and remarkable failure.  And I think we will look back at 2006 as the year this most recent period of American history - the conservative ascendency - ended. 

So like two heavy weight boxers stumbling into the 15th round of a championship fight, the two great ideologies of the 20th century stumble, exhausted, tattered and weakened, into a very dynamic and challenging 21st century.  My own belief is that this next American era will not be one dominated by these two exhausted ideologies of the past, but will be a battle for the mastery of a new, as yet unarticulated 21st century governing approach suited to the challenges we face today and built around the media and people of our time.  The core direction of this battle is not the left-right one fought at the end of the last century, but will be more about forward and backward. Meaning that the way we will have to measure progress from now on is to look at how a party or ideological movement captures the three main dimensions of this emergent, post-liberal/conservative politics of our day - a new governing agenda capable of tackling the challenges of our time, and new political arrangements built around the emergent media and people of the 21st century. 

I believe 2006 will become known as the year American conservatism reached its peak, and our 20th century politics fought one its very last battles.  The future will belong to those who master this "new politics" of the 21st century.  Friends, we have a lot of work to do to ensure that it is our movement, and our values, that leave these old and tired battles behind and get about mastering this new politics of the 21st century. 

For a video presentation of about this idea of the "new politics," visit our New Politics Institute site at http://www.newpolitics.net

Democratic Leaders ask Administration to intervene to stop disturbing robocalls

TPMmuckraker has a copy of a letter sent by John Conyers and John Dingell to Justice, the FCC and FEC:

Dear Chairmen Martin, Toner and Attorney General Gonzales:

We write to demand an immediate investigation concerning allegations of unethical and possibly illegal prerecorded phone calls designed to confuse voters in Tuesday’s election. These misleading calls are made late in the evening, or during the night, in an effort to generate anger at the Democratic candidate, who is in no way associated with this harassment. In fact, the calls are being funded by the National Republican Campaign Committee, which has reportedly provided $600,000 to fund this deception.

There have been numerous media reports about these calls, which appear to be occurring in dozens of districts. It is also our understanding that the Republican Party has been forced to stop the calls in New Hampshire.

According to the Associated Press, one individual “received three prerecorded messages in four hours. Each began, ‘Hello, I’m calling with information about [Democratic candidate] Lois Murphy [in the Philadelphia area].’” The Philadelphia Daily News reported that “[t]he calls, which begin by offering ‘important information about Lois Murphy,’ are designed to mislead voters into thinking the message is from her.”

The New Hampshire Union Leader reported that a “national Republican group yesterday scuttled a pre-recorded phone call effort the state Attorney General’s Office said may have violated New Hampshire law by contacting residents listed on the federal Do Not Call registry.”

In Illinois, The Barrington Courier-Review reported that a resident received the following phone call – “Hi. I’m calling with information about [Democratic Candidate] Melissa Bean.” She received the same call a total of 21 times since October 24. Others reported receiving the same calls, none of which were paid for by Ms. Bean or any Democratic group.

If true, these allegations could violate a number of federal laws and legal requirements. Among other things, 47 CFR 1200 (b)(1) provides that prerecorded telephone messages must “[a]t the beginning of the message, state clearly the identity of the business, individual, or other entity that is responsible for initiating the call.” Section 441h of the Federal Election Campaign Act provides that no agent of a federal candidate shall “fraudulently misrepresent himself or any committee or organization under his control as speaking or otherwise writing or acting for or behalf of any other candidate or political party.” Section 441d(d)(2) specifies that communications must provide a statement as to the party responsible for it, and the campaign finance laws generally prohibit fraudulent and deceptive activities. A number of state laws also appear to be applicable, such as New Hampshire’s which prohibits calls to individuals on the federal Do Not Call registry.

Given the magnitude and seriousness of these charges, we ask that you immediately investigate and take action to protect the integrity of our electoral process and hold the culpable parties responsible.

Crist snub shows how far Bush fallen

The President is slouching back to Texas tonight, unable to get even his handpicked candidate in Florida to show up at a rally designed to help him:

PENSACOLA, Florida (AP) -- The White House did not hide its irritation Monday at Florida GOP gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist for ducking President Bush at a campaign rally in the Republican-friendly Panhandle.

Crist said he considered the Pensacola area so firmly in his camp that it made more sense to campaign elsewhere in the state as the race to replace outgoing Gov. Jeb Bush tightened.

On a tarmac in Texas where the president boarded Air Force One for the trip east, Bush political strategist Karl Rove mockingly questioned what kind of alternate rally Crist could put together that would rival the expected 10,000-person crowd that Bush was expected to draw at the Pensacola Civic Center.

The White House already had distributed schedules saying Crist would introduce Bush at the rally.

Crist's opponent, Democratic Rep. Jim Davis, seized on the news.

"Now that the president is so unpopular, Charlie refuses to stand side by side with him," Davis said. "It says when the going gets tough, Charlie won't stand up."

Crist's chief of staff, George LeMieux, said the candidate already has strong support in the heavily Republican Pensacola area and thought his time would be better spent campaigning elsewhere. LeMieux said the decision had nothing to do with the president's job approval ratings.

Jeb Bush will attend the Pensacola event in Crist's place. Rep. Katherine Harris, who is mounting a lukewarm challenge to Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, will also be with the president. Before the September primary, Republican leaders failed to support Harris.

Bush is using the last day of his 10-state campaign swing to flush out GOP and swing voters needed to keep Republicans sitting in the governor's offices of Arkansas and Texas as well.

Making the Republicans continued efforts to discourage voting a national issue

Reports from all over America, coming in largely through the blogs and associated listservs, are showing Republicans and their Party Committees stooping to new lows to confuse voters and discourage people from voting.  in some cases laws have clearly already been broken.  In other cases - like the new flyer from MD shown on Kos tonight - they have brought shame to their politics. 

One of our greatest message opportunites in future years is for us to make the simple case that we want ever one to vote, and the other side doesn't. 

We need to use their systemic efforts to discourage and deny folks the right to vote - in a terrible version of the "whatever it takes" argument of the Bush campaign in 2004 - something that hurts their brand and their leaders across the country. 

Their systemic efforts to gain and hold on to power at any costs is a national disgrace. 

Georgia10 on Dailykos has a good roundup of things to be on the lookout for tomorrow.

Charlie Cook also doesn't buy the "tightening" argument

Earlier today we released a memo arguing that there was no conclusive evidence that the national race had "tightened."  Charlie Cook, respected election handicapper, agrees:

.....November 6, 2006

Going into Election Day, we see a 20-35 seat gain for Democrats in the House, a four to six seat gain for Democrats in the Senate and a six to eight seat gain for Democrats in the governor's races.

All Monday there was considerable talk that the national picture had suddenly changed and that there was a significant tightening in the election.  This was based in part on two national polls that showed the generic congressional ballot test having tightened to four (Pew) and six (ABC/Wash Post) points.

Seven national polls have been conducted since Wednesday, November 1.  They give Democrats an average lead of 11.6 percentage points, larger than any party has had going into an Election Day in memory.  Even if you knock five points off of it, it's 6.6 percentage points, bigger than the advantage that Republicans had going into 1994.

Furthermore, there is no evidence of a trend in the generic ballot test.  In chronological order of interviewing (using the midpoint of field dates), the margins were: 15 points (Time 11/1-3), 6 points (ABC/Wash Post), 4 points (Pew), 7 points (Gallup), 16 points (Newsweek), 20 points (CNN) and 13 points (Fox).

In individual races, some Republican pollsters see some movement, voters "coming home," in their direction, and/or some increase in intensity among GOP voters.  All seem to think that it was too little, too late to significantly change the outcome.  However, it might be enough to save a few candidates.  None think it is a major change in the dynamics of races, and most remain somewhere between fairly and extremely pessimistic about tomorrow's outcome."

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