Nov 11, 2009

FiveThirtyEight handicaps the House

One thing I've warned about is coming true - the Democratic coalition is beginning to fracture, and traditional southern Democratic districts are turning red faster than before. Though the major schism is years old, it seems that there are two wedge issues driving southerners away from Democratic party these days: Barack Obama and cap and trade.

The resistance to cap-and-trade is due to the dependence of many traditionally democratic districts in the southern and central appalachian mountains on the revenue produced from coal production and the popularity of the coal lobby there. Democratic Representatives from these districts were under a lot of political pressure to vote for that issue from northeastern and west-coast Democrats, and many of them succumbed to that pressure. This alienated part of the moderate-to-conservative base that supports Democrats in these areas.

The Barack Obama issue is yet another example of conservative racial and regional politics rearing their ugly heads. That isn't to say that the growing opposition is racist at heart, but racial politics has certainly helped to swell its numbers among rabidly conservative southerners who can't help but be influenced by the prejudices and intolerances of generations past. A black man in a position of power intimidates conservatives and thus they find fault more easily with him and his supporters.

There is also a regional political element to the opposition. Barack Obama and his Administration are largely centered around a core of Chicago, Ill politicians. Conservatives harbor a deep mistrust of the urban politics that emmanate from large cities. Urban politicians are identified with corruption and waste.

As the Republican Party has become more of a suburban and rural Party, the principles that foster compromises to provide services to large and dense populations have fallen away. Rural districts that were once solidly Democratic may now identify better with Republican values.

The question is not one of how Democrats keep or win-back these districts. The question is one of whether these districts are worth keeping in the first place.

As of today, though, it does not appear that the Democratic Party is in any danger of losing control of the US House of Representatives. Of concern, however, is the latest Rasmussen tracking poll in which Democrats have fallen behind by 6% on a generic congressional ballot, and the latest Gallup tracking poll which has them behind by 4.

1 comment:

  1. The points are correct, and of course, there will be blood in 2010. But the traditional mid-year election losses by the party in power come with the territory, and with the teabagging wing in ascendancy on the other side, the conventional wisdom of the opposition being able to make progress may not hold true as much. After all, when the opposition is heading for tin-foil land and a few southern states, they're narrowing, not broadening their base.


Keep it civil and pg-13, please.