That headline sums up a couple articles from Governing, one about how Democrats have fared in elections since 2004, and another taking the same look at Republicans. The author of both articles, Louis Jacobson, looked at the least competitive states for each party, and concludes that rather than making up ground, each part has gotten weaker in its weakest states. The absence of Republicans in California and Democrats in Tennessee might be extreme examples, but they’re not outliers. They’re the trend.
What’s particularly disheartening for supporters of Howard Dean’s “50-State Strategy”, which includes me, is Democrats bucked this trend for a while. The gains in red states and districts weren’t huge, apparently not enough to convince the skeptics who took over the DNC after Dean stepped down as national chair, but the abandonment of the strategy coincided with massive losses for the Democrats. Yes, there were other factors, but some factors, like a general political polarization, were already around was Dean was chair. The strategy wasn’t based on any assumption of a favorable trend, but on competing where competing was hard. In other words, a strategy for exactly these circumstances.
While much of the criticism on the Senate floor focused on costs to businesses and residential customers, Assistant Minority Leader Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, questioned whether Minnesotans should even try to address climate change.
“I have never, quite frankly, fallen for this global warming thing … and this huge, terrible amount of scare that has been going on in this country about how much pollution and how much acid rain and so on and so forth,” Ingebrigtsen said.
Let’s try to follow the logic: I don’t believe global warming because I don’t believe it; global warming is a pollution issue; therefore all pollution is fake. OK, got it. I suppose it’s possible Ingebrigtsen doesn’t know what global warming, acid rain, and “so on and so forth” are, so he truly doesn’t know they’re different things, but I’m not sure that actually makes him look any better.
For the conservatives who come looking through this site once in a while, I’ll completely concede that you could argue that there are costs that exceed gains — assuming you’re not dismissing the gains because you think global warming is a hoax. You could argue the 1% standard is too high to be achieved, or that costs will be borne by people who can’t bear them or who didn’t cause the problem. That would be fine. Dispute all you want to how to cope with global warming, but acknowledge that those aren’t the arguments your legislative leader is making. He’s in full-blown denialism, not merely refusing to accept overwhelming evidence, but lumping all problems together and dismissing all of them.
Come on, conservatives … acid rain denial now, really?
The State House has passed an election reform bill that has some good stuff in it, though not all good, and there’s a big omission. Still, it’s an improvement, and the House DFL can’t be accused of entirely blowing their chance, which is something I was concerned about. Like many lefty bloggers, I expressed concern some legislators would get skittish and forget they won a mandate to do some things. Most such posts I’ve seen have been about marriage equality, which is reasonable since there is a screamingly obvious opportunity to make progress there, and choking at the crucial moment seems off the agenda. I was thinking more broadly in that post in early January, including a large portion devoted to election reform. The photo ID amendment, while a lousy idea, led to a broader discussion about our election system, and its defeat offered a chance to address some things, some of which did get addressed:
There’s a procedure for voting after a candidate dies near election day. Hard to believe we’re only just now coming up with something 11 years after Paul Wellstone’s death showed such a procedure was necessary. The upshot is should that happen again, the election will be delayed until February.
Who is Jeff Johnson? From his Q&A with Minn Post, he seems to be a basic doctrinaire conservative who holds the positions conservatives have held for decades, experience notwithstanding. He refers to himself as a mainstream conservative, which is the same thing. He showed that doctrinaire side when he said some rotten things about the people participating in Occupy MN. Whatever anyone thinks of the Occupy movement, this much should bother you: on the first day, when they were just arriving, Johnson wasn’t there. He was speaking at a Republican event, so he had no idea who was showing up or who they were. There was at that point nothing to be judged, yet he said, “Because of you, I don’t have to spend my Friday afternoon with 1,000 or so clueless, obnoxious and frankly, very messy anarchists or socialists … or whatever they call themselves. Instead, I get to spend my Friday with 1,000 or so patriots.”
Since some time has passed, let me remind readers that the Occupy MN protest happened at the plaza in front of the Hennepin County Government Center, where Johnson works. He was absent the first day. He could have waited until he went back to work and saw the protesters before commenting. He could have asked them why they were there like I did. He could have asked them what they call themselves. Instead he used the dismissive phrase, “whatever they call themselves”, which is a phrase used to say people are so far beneath you, that you don’t even have to accord them the basic respect of finding out anything about them before running them down.
The economic blogosphere lit up a couple weeks ago when the 90% debt cliff, pretty much the only empirical basis austerians have for imposing austerity during a weak economy, blew up. It reached the liberal (real, not corporate) media, and even got so mainstream as to warrant extensive coverage on The Colbert Report. When the story first broke, it reminded me of Andrew Wakefield, the former doctor who is former because of his fraudulent research that “found” the MMR vaccine causes autism, the research that kicked off the anti-vaccer movement as we know t today. The comparison seemed harsh when I first thought of it, to a degree still does, yet the more I think about it, the more comparable the claims appear.
The still at the start of this video would look like the Great Depression if it was black and white. It’s about Spain hitting 27% unemployment, higher than the US hit in the 1930′s.
To make sure everyone knows what we’re talking about, the 90% debt cliff came from Growth in a Time of Debt. Feel free to read it of course, but keep in mind it turned out to be very wrong, verging on fraudulent. It’s a paper by Carmen M. Reinhart and Kenneth S. Rogoff, usually referred to as “Reinhart and Rogoff” and even shorter, R&R or R-R. Or, if you look at that last link, you might think of them as people who make up more things when they get caught making things up.
R&R claimed to have found a correlation between government debt and economic growth, where more debt causes slower growth, with a big dropoff when debt hits 90% of GDP. This is the claim that has been frequently repeated by austerians in the debate over fiscal austerity versus fiscal stimulus, which debate is probably very familiar to anyone regularly visiting this site. Anyone familiar with that debate is probably already aware that the preponderance of the evidence has been on the stimulus side, even though, tragically, the preponderance of money and political power has been with the austerians. When it comes to defending their position though, using something empirical rather than the assertions of conservative ideology, this debt cliff has pretty much been it. But now the one paper providing supporting evidence has been debunked spectacularly.
So why the harsh comparison to the one paper that supported the anti-vaccers before it was found to be a fraud?
Jason Collins, briefly a Minnesota Timberwolf (the 2008-2009 season), today became the first currently playing athlete in a major league to come out as gay. Others have come out after retirement. Collins finished last season the Washington Wizards and is currently a free agent. If he signs with an NBA team for next season (34-year-old journeyman role player, so not a sure thing even without the publicity), he’ll be the first active player to be out in any of the major leagues.
I realized I needed to go public when Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford and now a Massachusetts congressman, told me he had just marched in Boston’s 2012 Gay Pride Parade. I’m seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy. I was proud of him for participating but angry that as a closeted gay man I couldn’t even cheer my straight friend on as a spectator. If I’d been questioned, I would have concocted half truths. What a shame to have to lie at a celebration of pride. I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore. I want to march for tolerance, acceptance and understanding. I want to take a stand and say, “Me, too.”
So, maybe the dam has been broken. Attitudes have changed so that we’ve moved from straight athletes coming out as gay-friendly to gay athletes actually coming out. Are the fans ready? Most probably are. Not all, if I correctly interpret the decision of Sports Illustrated to take down the comments. But it’s progress.
Say, Timberwolves, I can’t help noticing your starting center might leave as a free agent so you’ll likely need another center, the team has been losing for years as is, and you’ve got slack ticket sales that might benefit from anything that brings positive attention. Go for it.
Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets in a series of protests against the bill, surprising many in a country that is predominantly Catholic but known for its liberal views.
The opposition turned increasingly nasty as the final vote approached.
Some politicians received personal threats, a handful of demonstrations ended in violence amid claims of infiltration by extreme-right activists, and there was even a scuffle in parliament as the debate concluded in the small hours of Friday.
The Socialist speaker of the lower house, Claude Bartolone, on Monday received an envelope containing ammunition powder and a threatening letter demanding he delay Tuesday’s vote.
Before overgeneralizing, it looks like non-violent street protests were joined by violent people who, as is always a risk in non-violent demonstrations, grab the attention and tarnish everyone else. Very few people create incidents in the National Assembly gallery, send threatening letters to politicians, or physically assault people they think are gay. One thing that’s clear though is that conservatives are not ready for this change. In a way this isn’t a surprise since since discomfort with change is a marker of conservatism. There is serious risk of blowback from marriage equality, even violent blowback, and the political risk of a fractured right using this issue to reorganize, as the French right has done. Does that mean we should delay until conservatives are comfortable with it? No, for a few simple reasons. …READ MORE
What do I mean by “Democrats need to better with white voters”? And what do I mean by “part 4″? The latter is easy to answer. It turned into a multi-post subject, where the entirety of part 1 was devoted just to answering the question of why. That’s why I’m going to give just the brief version of why Democrats need to win more white votes, despite all the attention given to generational differences among voters and the Republican attempts at reaching out to young people, non-whites, generally what the recent elections revealed as Democratic-leaning demographic groups (DLDGs). The gist is this:
President Obama won the popular vote by a narrow enough margin, that Republicans can overcome it if they have any success reaching out to DLDGs. Yes, I’m aware of how they’ve been tripping over their own tongues, but let’s give ourselves a margin of error by assuming they do better enough at outreach to give themselves a chance at the electoral college.
Republicans won a healthy majority of the US House with a large minority of the overall vote, and a similar dynamic holds true in many state legislatures. We have to win more white voters if we hope to win majorities of seats.
I’m aware the demographic trends have been in our favor, but I don’t see why we should concede elections while we wait for elections to be handed to us. I also don’t like just assuming current trends continue. I prefer giving ourselves a margin of error, just in case GOP outreach works, or demographic trends change.
So that’s the brief version of why Democrats have to win more white voters. There are a lot of variables involved, like age, religion, income, a bunch more, and identifying those was done in part 2 (please check there before asking why I didn’t consider something, because probably I did). I devoted part 3 to one variable, population density, which has a remarkable correlation to the presidential vote. It got its own post partly because it’s rather complicated, but also because this seems like the single most important variable. At a minimum, it seems population density will suggest some overlooked targets for future elections and possible future strategies.
So in this final part, we get down to the application of all this analysis. How do we win more white votes? If it was resolvable in a single blog post I suppose it would be more obvious and already done, so I can’t pretend to have the whole solution. I do have ideas though, after the jump, but first one point to make about the feasibility of winning a bigger share of the white vote. Could we increase Obama’s 39% a few points to, say, 43%? Obama’s share in 2008 was, oh look, 43%. That would seem definitive proof we can do this. So let’s do this:
Al Franken’s campaign announced that during the ifrst quarter, they raised almost $2 million, and they have a bit more than that on hand. The assumption until recently was Republicans would make him a top target, but so far, candidate recruitment has been rather halting. Here’s hoping for a much cheaper race this year than record-setting 2008, or at least for more cats like that cute little fellow. Who I’m guessing donated online.
The State House has passed a bill that would raise the state minimum wage to $9.50/hour and index it to inflation so $9.50 in today's dollars is worth an equivalent amount in next year's. The State Senate is dragging its feet, insisting on legislator pay raises *first*. Tell them to get off the sidelines, stop dragging their feet, and help raise up the working poor!