Sunday, December 27, 2015

Catching up: Dems are doomed!

I've been ultra-busy with work and holiday prep and holiday visiting. So I haven't been able to write some posts I've been thinking about.

First, there was a column by Matthew Yglesias about how much Democrats having been losing at the state level, and why they should be worried about it. This isn't news to me. I don't subscribe to the theory that Dems lose because sometimes voters are just stupid. Dems lose for a variety of reasons, including that sometimes Dems are awful. On the other hand, sometimes Dems win because the GOP is even worse.

However, hoping that your opponent will be even worse isn't a good overall strategy.It's much better to try to be the best candidate you can be, and for the party to try to be the best. Dems haven't been doing this. They've been protecting their own and trying to avoid crazy. Sometimes it's good enough, but often it isn't. So Dems are losing more often.

Yglesias wrote about this two months ago. The effect? A ripple and then nothing. But that is what he expected: "But the truly striking thing is how close to bottom the party is already and how blind it seems to be to that fact." I'll let you know when I see the signs that the Dems are waking up. So far, they're still in deep slumber.


Extra. An example of turning to the GOP because Dems won't do what's necessary.


Dangerous said...

I know how you feel about generalizations, MP, so I think the notion of "losing at the state-level" is inadvertent on your part. Of course, the observations vary greatly depending on where you look.

The GOP used sweeping (and in my opinion, unearned) victories in 2010 to take control of lots of state legislatures and gerrymander those states to get overrepresentation and safe state and congressional districts for their candidates. Then they used those advantages to maintain control in 2014. Hence, states with majority Dem-leaning electorates, such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, etc., flipped to GOP total control.

Meanwhile, the GOP consolidated control in the South by excising the last of the blue-dog Dems and gerrymandering permanent majorities by consolidating minority voters in nearly unanimous districts. So I can see why you think that.

But not in places like New York, California, Illinois and other large states. Dems are in control in places like that and those states are doing much better than their GOP-controlled counterparts.

And consider Pennsylvania where I live -- which the GOP should use as a wake-up call. The incumbent governor got turfed out by double digits in 2014, despite general GOP gains that year, the first time an incumbent governor lost re-election in the state's history. Then, in 2015, the Dems swept the state-wide elections including remaking the state's supreme court (due to three out of seven seats vacant), which will automatically change the districts after 2020 based on how it happens in PA.

Pennsylvania is a very purple state, which has been blue in presidential elections since 1988. It's a very good bellweather of thoughtful voters and governance, and GOP policies have not sat well. Currently, the state legislature is warring with the new Dem governor over the budget, and is stuck. They refuse all tax increases because it would hurt their friends, and are trying to hold school hostage which they will then try to blame on the governor. But he exercised a line-item and released some money.

When GOP reality does not match their rhetoric, and they don't rule an electorate that is in their pocket (unlike, say, Kansas), they get turfed as Scott Walker and others will discover in 2016 and beyond. So the Dems aren't so much dead as dormant, waiting for the inevitable crash of the hard-right ideology to put them back in charge for good government. The GOP will always rely on "taxes" as an issue, but when they cut taxes mostly for their friends, and it results in huge deficits and cuts in services for the masses, they get rejected for a few cycles until they can launch the same political messages which got them elected in the first place. Sigh.

ModeratePoli said...

@dangerous, some ideas have been percolating since your comment. Each state is different, so generalizations will be, at best, reasonable but inexact. At worse, generalizations will be worthless. I think noting the trend that the GOP is gaining at the level of the states is worthwhile, but it's going to be imprecise to generalize.

In my state, Massachusetts, we tend to run Democratic, but occasionally have GOP governors. Not that much changes under the GOP governors. This is probably because the pendulum doesn't swing that much in Mass, so it never swings far in reaction.

In other places, it's important to know why the pendulum starts swinging. Why did it start in PA? In many southern states, it was inevitable that the conservative populace, which has shifted to the GOP, would take the state governments with them.

Of course, to find out the story for each of 50 state is a lot of legwork, and I'm not going to do it. So I probably won't know the reason for the changes unless I read a cogent article from someone who has done the legwork.