Democrats a Marginal Party Yet Still Kicking

by on November 13th, 2004

Republicans truly are the majority party in America. They may hold it by a very slim margin, but as their current majorities in the House and Senate, the re-election of President George W Bush, and a slight conservative tilt in the Supreme Court that should tilt even more rightward with new appointments all point out, it’s good to be a conservative in America right now.

I’ve thought about this over the week, pouring over all the speculation and conclusions of this last election. Some of the assumptions and over-speculations feel false. The idea that 51% of Americans voted for Bush, and that 22% of Americans cited “moral values” as their number one concern in voting for a President, doesn’t naturally tie together in my mind the idea that a slim majority of Americans are now evangelicals opposed to abortion, gay marriage, and consider Bush their Savior to preside over the Middle East.

But it does suggest that the Bush campaign strategy to turn out their base trumped Kerry’s, but then again, only marginally.

What I think is more worrisome to Democrats is that they, once again, lost more seats in the House and the Senate. This is partly the result of redistricting, which caused a number of safe incumbent Democratic House seats in Texas to virtually be given up. But the most obvious defeat was in the Senate, where in the vast majority of races where Democrats had a fighting chance (according to polls taken), only Ken Salazar of Colorado won a seat for the Democrats. Many of the races that were thought close , like the Oklahoma race between Tom Coburn (R) and Brad Carson (D), were complete landslides for the Republican. The same thing happened in Alaska. The same thing happened in Kentucky.

And notice I’m only talking about Red States here, the ones that went for big for George W. Bush in 2000, and again now in 2004. But that’s actually a huge problem, because it means that the majorities in these states don’t want nor vote a split ticket anymore. It’s a bit of a generalization. You can still find a few House members and a Senator or two who are still Democrats in the South.

But I think that, in general, you’ll find in Blue States more of a tendency to split the ticket and vote for Republicans. Sure, they’ll vote a Democrat in for President, but they have no problem voting for incumbent Republican Senators, House members, and Governors. There simply isn’t a reason for there to be a problem with voting Republican in these constituencies, as they tend to be more moderate and represent their constituencies, just as the more conservative Republicans in the South represent theirs.

Even if Democrats decide to give up the South for the indefinite future, they still have to think about building up a tighter coalition to rally the rest of the States around. Because right now, despite the closeness of the Presidential race, they don’t quite have it.

But they’re still kicking. I think a move to include more exciting and motivating individuals into the party machine, the most prominent right now being Howard Dean and Barack Obama, would be a promising start. They don’t necessarily need to become a party of advocates, they just need to start advocating their platform and their party again.

Edward E.J. Davis