Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Purple Trending Red

Short one today. American elections are often viewed as a pendulum. I don't like this thinking because it implies that the electorate will always swing back and forth and that's not true. The country swung left in the 1930s and didn't swing back until the 1980s. Since that time, it's stayed right until Obama, who had a chance to move it left forever, but he blew it. Anyways, right now it appears that we're swinging right again... sort of.

At the end of the W Bush debacle, the country ran about as far left as the current crop of citizens seemed able to go. States that had long been considered solidly conservative, like Virginia and Colorado, were now reliably Democratic and places like California, which was competitive in the 1980's was so far left that conservative candidates were essentially jousting windmills. This was when Obama took over. And if not for his arrogance and his petulance, the country likely would have gone through a generational leftward realignment.

But Obama blew it. He angered and scared the public and did things that reminded the public why leftist policies will destroy their wealth, their peace and their security. A shift to the right began.

Between 2010 and 2014, the electorate drifted back toward the right. There is now evidence that this drift is changing the political landscape. Not only do Republicans control most states at the state level, but polls are showing that many purple states are drifting red and blue states are drifting purple. Specifically, according to Gallup, when Obama won in 2008, 35 states were solidly Democratic or leaning Democratic. But by the end of 2015, things had changed. By the end of 2015, only 12 states were solidly Democratic or leaned Democratic. That's a loss of 23 states the Democrats once held. At the same time, the GOP now holds 20 states which are solidly Republican or leaned Republican. Here's the list:
Democratic: California, New York, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Illinois, New Mexico and Vermont.

Republican: Oklahoma, Tennessee, Alabama, South Caroline, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Alaska, Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, Indiana, Mississippi, West Virginia and New Hampshire.
This is a significant change and it represents a real lifeline for the Republicans. Had the 2008 trend continued, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan would be solidly Democratic with Ohio and Florida trending that way. That would doom any Republican candidate and would keep control of the Senate in Democratic hands. Instead, the GOP now controls the Senate and looks to keep it, and the GOP candidate has a genuine chance of victory -- something more important than ever now that The Pillow Shoppe has murdered Justice Scalia. Keeping this trend going and exploiting it will take more than the current crop of candidates seems to have the ability for, but fortune may still smile on the GOP in November through no credit of their own.



Anthony said...

Nobody has the ability to keep the trend of Republican victories going. Once a party wins control of all the levers of power, voters start judging them by what they achieve and how their members behave (scandals and suchlike), not how pretty a picture their promises paint.

Couple that with the need of both parties to cater to their powerful fringes and thus do at least a couple things that piss off a big chunk of voters even within the implementing party (both parties are coalitions of many disparate interests who in a parliamentary system would be separate parties) lasting national power is not something that will ever happen.

Anthony said...

As a state level things are different, though apparently many states have very, very low levels political competition.

On the Republican side part of the crumbling of the governors was due to antipathy towards anyone who had ever held responsibility (reality can never be as pretty as the picture a snake oil salesman can paint).

However, the other part of it was all of them were/are hothouse flowers (politically speaking), people who dominated on the local stage but by national standards were utterly terrible campaigners.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, I don't agree. Look at the Democrats who controlled the House from the 1930s until the 1990s and the Senate for most of that and the Presidency for most of it too. You can be the majority party, but it requires you to reflect the public, which is something the parties no longer do.

These days, the parties reflect the interest groups who have seized power within the parties and now use them to try to impose their will on the public.

If the GOP wants to be a majority party forever, something that they could do at this moment (the Democrats are out of the running after Obama and until the GOP fails), they need to adopt a platform that makes average lives better and essentially abandon or very-far back-burner the crazy stuff their activists like.

AndrewPrice said...

At the state level, you have much more homogenious populations. So being somewhat fringe is acceptable in most places. Somewhere like Colorado is different because we are packed with transplants from all over. But Alabama is packed with religious red necks. Iowa is full of socialist farmers. And so on.

What surprises me at the state level is the gains the GOP has made in traditionally Democratic areas. That's a bigger story than people realize. These are states that were ALWAYS Democratic and are now fairly regularly or entirely Republican. That's a huge shift in attitude. It also seems to have shifted the House with it.

BevfromNYC said...

Andrew and Anthony - It is worth noting that Democrats only control the Gov. and the Legislature in 7 states. The rest are either mixed or solid Republican.

BevfromNYC said...

And yeah, it would really, REALLY be lovely if someone, anyone would come up with an actual platform "that makes average lives better and essentially abandon or very-far back-burner the crazy stuff their activists like."

Sadly, if Trump get the nomination (PLEASE GOD NO!) will only get a crazy platform.

ArgentGale said...

I hope you're right about the trends, Andrew. I'm still worried that the fringe is going to blow it for the GOP somehow, whether through a crazy platform, one of their candidates securing the nomination, or both.

- Daniel

Anthony said...


Prior to the 1990s the Democrats had held power so long they were convinced they would/could never lose it. Given the belief they had all the time in the world, incrementalism made sense (more sense than the Democrats had in the early 90's).

The backlash to Clinton's legislative overreaches upset the applecart. Suddenly absolute power was in the reach of both parties. Also, the specter of defeat loomed over both parties (what was won one election could all be lost the next time around). Add in to that the desire to counter/retaliate for what the other party did when it had absolute power, both parties are inclined to make radical, short term decisions rather than comport themselves as if holding power for years was a realistic possibility.

*Shrugs* Its possible someone could break the cycle, but I highly doubt it. Its ideologues making rousing promises that get the wings (who are very powerful forces in primaries) fired up.

BevfromNYC said...

Sorry, stuck working late into the night and won't be able to post tonight...

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, The Democrats really have quickly become the party of a couple states.

In terms of the platform, it's not that hard. I've outlined one and given ideas for every area of people's lives. Yet, the GOP seems blind not only to those kinds of ideas but even their lack of offerings in those areas. They really think they have it all covered. It's weird.

AndrewPrice said...

Daniel, I the trend seems to be fairly secure at the moment because of the Obamacare backlash and Obama fatigue, but I think the GOP will need to start earning support fast or it will snap right back... or off in another direction (Trump/Sanders "The WFT Ticket for 2016!").

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, I would bet that if Clinton was more moderate when he took over and he brought the Democrats back toward the middle -- something they had ridiculed in the 1980s and early 1990s when they began to lose control, then the Democrats could have stayed in power. But Clinton couldn't rein in his foolish supporters and it blew up on him.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit's going to write something for tonight. :)

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