June 25, 2007

The reemerging Democratic majority

Filed under: politics — ubikcan @ 8:05 am

This story is an interesting one. I’ve been following the writings of Ruy Teixeira since last year when he wrote an interesting article challenging the myth that the suburbs are barren of Democratic votes.

Teixeira has a new article in the American Prospect which provides his (and his co-author, John B. Judis) assessment of the political landscape:

As conservative Republicans tell the tale, the 2006 election was merely a referendum on the Bush administration’s incompetence in Iraq and New Orleans and on the Republican congressional scandals.


We take a different view: that this election signals the end of a fleeting Republican revival, prompted by the Bush administration’s response to the September 11 terrorist attacks, and the return to political and demographic trends that were leading to a Democratic and center-left majority in the United States. In 2006 the turn to the Democrats went well beyond those offices directly concerned with the war in Iraq or affected by congressional scandals. While Democrats picked up 30 House seats and six Senate seats, they also won six governorships, netted 321 state legislative seats, and recaptured legislative chambers in eight states. That’s the kind of sweep that Republicans enjoyed in 1994, which led to Republican control of Congress and of the nation’s statehouses for the remainder of the decade.

One could add to the above that there were five million more Democratic party voters than Republicans in the 2006 Midterms as well.

The article is a bit wonky, but the strength of Teixeira’s argument has always lain in his sensitivity to demographics and geography:

Just as important as these victories is who voted for Democrats in 2006. With few exceptions, the groups were exactly those that had begun trending Democratic in the 1990s and had contributed to Al Gore’s popular-vote victory over George W. Bush in 2000. These groups, which we described in our 2002 book, The Emerging Democratic Majority, included women, professionals, and minorities. But in 2006 they also included two groups our book slighted or ignored altogether: younger voters (those born after 1977) and independents. These voters can generally be expected to continue backing Democrats.

Finally, the 2006 election represented a shift in American politics, away from the right and toward the center-left, on a range of issues that go well beyond the Iraq war, corruption, and competence. Voters in 2006 returned to viewpoints on the economy and society that inclined them, even leaving aside the war, to favor Democrats over conservative Republicans. To understand how this could happen, and happen so suddenly, one has to appreciate the peculiar impact that September 11 had on what had been an emerging Democratic majority, and how, once the impact of that event dissipated, the earlier trends reasserted themselves with a vengeance.

More here.


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