Congratulations to all in New Jersey and Virginia. You fought hard, you stuck by progressive principles, you won and you deserve it. It was a good day to be a part of the party of the people. Still, one sad fact does remain: There are 28 GOP governors but only 22 Democrat ones. Of course there are reasons to think that Dem numbers will improve in this area. Still, I can’t help but notice that the reason for Dems being in the minority position on governors is not because we can’t appeal to red states: It’s that we can’t seem to appeal to blue ones.
The Republicans are much better nailing down their base states and regions than we are.
In the South, Republican governors outnumber Dems 8-4. This is not unexpected, and Dems can take comfort from the fact that states as solid red as Wyoming, Kansas, Tennessee, and Oklahoma have Dem governors, as do important swing states like Arizona, New Mexico, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Michigan.
But look at the blue states: Of the 19 states (not counting Washington DC) that Kerry won, nine have Republican governors.
What gives? Well, in the West the GOP governors outnumber Dems 7-6. This score would be a Democrat lead of 8-5 if the deep blue states of Hawaii and California had Democrat governors.
In the Midwest there is a 7-7 tie. This would be a Democrat lead of 8-6 if Minnesota (which has voted Democrat in 16 of the last 19 presidential elections) had a Democrat governor. And if Missouri and/or Ohio are added to the mix, we’re talking about a real good political infrastructure in the Midwest- an infrastructure that did not exist for Kerry in 2004.
Finally, in my home region of the NorthEast, a region that gave all of its electoral votes to John Kerry, there are more GOP governors than Dem ones. Not counting DC and its Democratic mayor, there is a 6-5 GOP advantage here in the NorthEast.
What if the states of Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, and Maryland (i.e. the home states of Howard Dean, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and yours truly respectively) had Democratic governors? Not only would there be a 9-2 Dem governor advantage here, but the Democrats would control a majority of the nation’s governor seats for the first time since 1994.
We know Democrats can win governorships in red and purple states. Now the question is: How can Dems increase their number in the blue ones? And how did we get to the point where the GOP was winning on our home turf? If any blue staters with Republican governors want to explain how that happened it would be most appreciated.
Note to Marylanders: Hate to sound harsh, but if you did not vote in 2002 you were foolish. Robert Kennedy’s biological daughter vs. Newt Gingrich’s ideological son. This is not exactly what I would call a difficult choice. Sure there were justifiable complaints with the actions of the Glendening Administration and the campaign of Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. Still, the background of and issue stances of the candidates should have inspired Democrats to come out in droves.
For 2006, pay attention to Baltimore County (not to be confused with Baltimore City). Baltimore County voted for John Kerry in 2004 52%-47%, but voted to elect Bobby Haircut 59%-41% in 2002. Of course Dems should be proud liberals, but remember the 11th commandment: Thou shalt not anger or upset the folks in Baltimore County. They’re good folks, they’re Oriole fans, and they are the swing county (especially the folks living in the closer in suburbs).
Oops, almost forgot the waiver: The Democratic Daily realizes the importance of turning out the Democratic vote and running up big Democratic margins in the DC suburbs of Montgomery County. However, in the event a Democratic campaigner even hints to non-Montgomery County Marylanders that Montgomery County is superior, The Democratic Daily cannot be held responsible for any verbal assaults that may ensue from this contributor.