Saturday, January 01, 2005

Dancing in the endzone

Fred Barnes reviews the past “annus horribilis” for the Democrats, when everything was trending for the GOP:

George W. Bush got more votes in winning re-election than the entire population of France. He improved his share of the vote among Latinos, women, African-Americans, Jews and Catholics. Winning a plurality of states along the Mississippi River has guaranteed presidential victory since 1912. Mr. Bush won a majority. This year, says Democratic pollster Peter Hart, "a sense of Republicanism crept up the river. The president won Missouri, which was always a tossup state, by more than 7%. Iowa flipped his direction, and in Minnesota and Wisconsin, we waited all night to find out that Kerry had just barely carried those states." So the Upper Midwest, following the South, Southwest, Plains, and Rocky Mountains, is now trending Republican.

There's another measure of Republican (and Bush) success in 2004. For the first time in more than a century, a Republican president won re-election as his party improved its hold on the House and Senate while increasing its majority of governorships (28 now) and maintaining control of a plurality of state legislatures (20). At the same time, Republicans held a majority of state legislators--a feat they initially achieved in 2002 after a half-century in the minority.

And don't forget what Democrats insisted for decades was their path to sure victory. If Democrats could match Republican campaign spending, energize their base, dramatically increase voter turnout, and provoke a robust debate on big issues, they'd win the White House and probably a whole lot more. Well, they managed all of that in 2004. The result: A Republican won with the first presidential majority since 1988. Mr. Bush touted an agenda of bold conservative reform. The last time a Democrat won as an unalloyed liberal was 1964.
The panacea of campaign cash and an “energized” base was the kind of cart-before-horse thinking that Terry McAuliffe sold to the Democrats. It simply never occurred to the Dems to adopt positions in tune with the 21st century to allure voters. That would have been a better approach than clinging to New Deal programs and poll numbers.

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