The 2004 elections are over. Bush won, of course, but I want to focus on an interesting question raised by the red-state/blue-state map of the outcome. It looks suspiciously as though the Democrats are on their way to becoming a regional party.
Specifically, a regional party of the urban Northeast and the West Coast metroplexes. The state-by-state voting patterns since 1980, and especially in 2000 and 2004, point clearly in this direction. The Democrats have lost the South, and they’re losing their grip on the Upper Midwest — Daschle’s loss to Thune and the size of Bush’s margin in Ohio are leading indicators.
I’ve written a couple of previous blog essays on the hole the Democrats are in. They have serious problems. Ronald Reagan peeled away the (private-sector) union vote after 1980; today they’re losing the blacks over gay marriage and the Jews over Israel and the Terror War. Their voter base is increasingly limited to public-employee unions and brie-nibbling urban elites — they’re no longer the party of the common man but of the DMV, Hollywood and the Upper West Side.
The state-level election results reinforce this picture, and I predict that county-by-county numbers will make it even more obvious, especially when correlated with SES. Add to this a serious structural problem, which is that their street-level cadres are largely drawn from a hard-left contingent that wants to pull their platform even further away from anything most Americans will vote for.
This was very clear here in Malvern; even in this staid suburb the Democratic pollwatchers looked like Central Casting’s idea of a fringy radical, bushy-haired and besweatered and festooned with paranoid slogan buttons. The DNC used to rely on unions to supply troops at campaign time; they can’t any more, so they have to lean on organizations like MoveOn.org and Democratic Underground.
Even this they could survive if the mainstream media retained the ability to deliver the 15% swing for Democrats that Evan Thomas of Newsweek boasted of a few months back. But the all-too-blatant partisanship of CBS and the New York Times actually backfired this time, most obviously when the bloggers caught Dan Rather trumping up an anti-Bush story on obviously-fake documents. I think Instapundit is on to something when he says the longest-term result of this election will be the collapse of mainstream-media credibility. With that will go one of the most effective weapons the Democrats have.
A serious rethink of the Democratic platform is in order. The smartest single move they could make is to try to peel off the single largest bloc of Republican-leaning voters — gun owners like me. Bill Clinton has pointed out that alienating the 50% of American households which own guns lost the Democrats the 1994 elections and has cost them critical swing votes in every national election since.
The sane thing for the Democrats to do would be to go unreservedly pro-Second-Amendment. Alas, I do not think they are a sane party any more.
UPDATE: My prediction about the county-by-county numbers proved correct,
according to USA Today’s