It seems like some political consultants can’t stop bashing the state (and in the case of the Northeast, the region) that launched the American Revolution. In today’s Washington Post it is “revealed” that the West is shifting towards the Democrats (as if the West hasn’t been doing that since ther late 1980s). But some folks just can’t help being snarky:
In the 2004 presidential campaign, Democrats devoted considerable sums and significant amounts of Sen. John F. Kerry’s time to the West, focusing on Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico.
“There was nothing wrong with that strategy,” said Denver-based Democratic consultant Terry Snyder. “The votes could be there, for the right candidate. But a liberal senator from Massachusetts turned out to be the wrong guy to make the sale in the West.”
Really? Someone should have told actual Western voters that! Indeed, among post-1948 Democratic nominees for president, almost none recieved the level of support Kerry did in 2004. Kerry won 49.9% of the Western popular vote (to Bush’s 48.7%). Except for Lyndon Johnson in the Democratic landslide year on 1964, Kerry’s Western popular vote total is better than all post-1948 Democratic nominees.
The same is true if broken down by state. The following chart shows Kerry’s percentages in a number of Western states:
Except for LBJ, not one post-1948 Democratic nominee for president got as great a percent of the vote in these states as John Kerry.
Kerry’s 47.9% of the vote in Nevada is second to only John Kennedy’s 51.2% post-1948.
Kerry’s 49.1% of the vote in New Mexico virtually ties Clinton’ 1996 total (49.2%) and is barely behind John Kennedy’s 50.1% in 1960. Indeed, in a state where 3% of the votes cast were thrown out-and Kerry lost by only .7% of the vote-Kerry probably won New Mexico given that most of the thrown out votes came from precincts that were predominantly low-income economically and predominantly Hispanic or Native American ethnically. It is also ironical that the one Western where Kerry was not one of the top Democratic vote getters was the very Democratic western state of Hawaii. But don’t worry, Kerry still beat Bush by 10 points there.
It is not only Kerry who has helped out West. From 1952-1984 Democrats carried Washington state only twice (1964 and 1968) and carried Oregon only once (1964) from 1948-1984. Since Michael Dukakis in 1988, Democrats have always won both of those states. Dukakis’ near victory in California that year-despite a booming economy and the fact it was President Reagan’s homestate-presaged the Democratic run of victories in California since then.
What about Arizona Nick? Arizona is changing but probably not enough so in time for 2008. While I’m not an Arizonan by any stretch of the imagination, (and would appreciate help from any Arizona residents here) I’ll go out on a limb here and say if McCain in the 2008 nominee, Arizona is out of reach. Sure Clinton won Arizona in 1996 (the first Democrat to do so since 1948) . But Clinton only won 45.5% of the vote in Arizona that year, just 1.2% more of the vote than Kerry won-and was 4 points less than what LBJ won in 1964 when Arizona was the only non-South state he lost.
Still, the fact that Barry Goldwater’s homestate can’t be totally written off-and that a “Massachusetts liberal” outdid nearly all post-WWII Democratic nominees in the West- leads to an interesting conclusion. If Dems should follow Horace Greely’s advice to “Go West,” they should do so by following the trails blazed by Northeasterners.