Some Political Observations Before Labor Day Kickoff

Recently, I’ve had a bunch of political notions going around in my head that have to get out. So rather than do a seperate post for each, I just decided to throw them out and see who agrees and disagrees and why.

#1: Maybe the Dems will Win the House After All?

Of the 50 most competitve House races according to Chuck Todd, 40 are currently held by Republicans. Only 3 of the top 25 most competitive are held by Democrats. It’s also interesting how it breaks along Non-South and South distinctions. Of the 40 GOP vulnerables, only 7 (17.5%) are in the South. Meanwhile 5 of the 10 most vulnerable Democrat seats are in the South. But even if Dems lose all 5 of those seats, a pickup of 20 of the 40 GOP seats gives us Speaker Pelosi.

#2: Outside the South, Were Dems Ever Really Dominant in Rural Areas?

It seems to me the answer is no. Even the great populist William Jennings Bryan (of Nebraska) never won as great a percent of the popular vote as Kerry did-even though it was not until 1920 that the Census reported more Americans living in non-rural than rural areas. In all the elections of the 1920s and 1950s Democrats lost almost ever state outside the south-and continue to lose the predominantly non-southern rural states. In addition, Democrats since Al Smith in 1928 have won a majority of urban voters. It was often said that Bush’s 2004 victory depended on the votes of small town America. It was also the same for Herbert Hoover in 1928.

Note: I do not have anything against rural Dems and any Rural Dems who are in power or working to get more Dems in power-Go and may God bless your work. Lord knows every vote counts-regardless of where it comes from. Yes Democrats need to do more to appeal to rural and small town voters and are moving in that direction (Kerry’s 40% of the rural vote was better than all post 1970s Democrats save for Dukakis in 1988 and Clinton in 1996 who both got 44% of the rural vote. So much for the ridiculous inside the Beltway notion that rural voters are totally prejudiced against urban northeasterners).

#3: Isn’t Saying Democrats Have a Problem With Religious Voters Just A Euphemistic, Politically Correct Way of Saying Democratic Fortunes in the South Have Sunk?

Most people reading this post (regardless of religous and/or political views) have heard about Dems doing well among non-churchgoers and those who go to church less than once every week while doing poorly among voters who attend church at least once a week if not more.

Do the Democrats need to find religion? Sure some religious-based (or more precisely morality based) rheotric wouldn’t be a bad idea-and some people had this figured out in 2004. Using the words of James, reputed brother of Jesus, to condemn President Bush’s leadership “It is not enough, my brother, to say that you have faith, when there are no deeds,” was a good start. But on the whole it’s kinda hard to credibly say that the Democrats are Anti-Religion.

The fact is that the most Pro-Republican region of the country also happens to be the most church attending region of the country. Of course Democrats will have problems winning “religious” voters. That doesn’t mean that walking into a place of religious observance will suddenly re-program your brain to vote Republican. It just means that when white southerners left the Democratic Party in the 1950s and 60s (over a whole host of issues-some having nothing to do with religion) they took their Bibles with them. Of course churchgoing blacks did the same thing with their Bibles when they left the Republicans in the 1930s.

And what of the Jews? Kerry won 79% of the Jewish vote. While some of this was the result of Kerry winning non-synagogue going Jews, therre had to be at least a good amount of observatn Jews pulling the Democratic lever for Kerry to do this well among this historically Democratic group? Unless you want to make the arguement that 4 out of 5 Jews don’t attend synagogue?

Bottom line: Sure There’s room for improvement for Dems among religiously observant voters, but the “God gap” is mostly an invention of pundits tired of constantly repeating the story of Democratic fallout in the South. So they use different words to say the same thing.

Up next.. Meet the Democrats’ New Friends: White Born-Again Christians (No I’m Not Making This Up)

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About Nick

Teacher of Social Studies. Born in the 1970s. History major, music minor. Big Baseball fan. Economic progressive.
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