Friday, August 13, 2010

Is the GOP Really Just A Southern Party? Thoughts On Wall Street Journal Poll

The WSJ has produced a poll which I am sure will bring back the GOP is just the party of the Ole Confederacy talk. Huff post has something on it here.

** It’s the geography, stupid: But could those GOP electoral gains come from just one part of the country? The poll contains this interesting finding: The GOP has a HUGE generic-ballot edge in the South (52%-31%), but it doesn’t lead anywhere else. In the Northeast, Dems have a 55%-30% edge; in the Midwest, they lead 49%-38%; and in the West, it’s 44%-43%. Yet do keep this caveat in mind: Many of the congressional districts Republicans are targeting outside of the South resemble some of those Southern districts they’re hoping to win back in November -- where you have whiter and older voters. Think Stephanie Herseth's seat in South Dakota; Tim Walz' seat in Minnesota; Leonard Boswell's seat in Iowa; and Ike Skelton's in Missouri.

First the GOP folks should not try to spin the bad. Those numbers need improving!! Needless to say outreach to Latinos (which is a diverse group to say the least) needs to go into overdrive. However the poll is not all bad..

Whenever we see polls like this it is never mentioned the huge migration we have seen over the decades to the deep south and mid south from the mid Atlantic and Midwest. . We are not just talking Florida here. In fact , with the sad exception of my state of Louisiana, the South has been gaining seats in Congress as a whole while parts of the Midwest and Mid Atlantic have been shedding them.

We actually see that in stories relating to the Catholic Church in America. While the stories of of Parishes shutting down in the north are sad it fails to note that in the parts of the South Catholic Churches are booming.

Look at Dallas, look at Atlanta, look at other places. Part of this is because of the migration has fueled the rapid growth of the Catholicism in the South. It should also be noted that southern Catholics still seem conservative as ever.

Now what about politics. Are these ex pat Yankees fitting a demographic that is GOP leaning because they could afford to move in the first place when things starting going bad? Well maybe so.

Are they former liberals that over time became assimilated to the general southern culture over times and became more conservative?

Well I happen to think it is a matter of both.

It should be noted that just like the Ole Confederacy the New South is pretty diverse. It is not a one size fits all political view.

That being said it is interesting to look at this migration. Migration no doubt can make a state trend back democrat. Especially if that State has a very substantial amount of black voters that for now still pull the dem lever.

I think we can look at North Carolina as a example of this where a recent massive migration has made it more Dem friendly. It will take at least a decade or two to see if it goes back to a GOP pattern. So we shall see who converts who in the end.

The west numbers are interesting. The west has shown explosive growth. Here the GOP has lost ground. Again showing the need for a Latino outreach. Still it is close.

I hope to look at this poll in detail more. I suspect what we have in the background is the traditional urban versus rural dynamic at play.

Finally maps are wonderful things. I recently posted these great maps that Jay Cost has showing the GOP/Dem divide from the times of FDR to Obama. If we want to look at a geographical problem it appears in many ways there is also a Democrat one. Again those maps paint a pretty clear picture.

Cost says :
As should be clear, Obama's victory was geographically narrower than Reagan's, LBJ's, Ike's or FDR's. Substantially so. Obama did much more poorly in rural and small town locales. They have a history of progressive/liberal support, but Obama was unable to place himself in the rural progressive tradition of William Jennings Bryan. This makes his coalition the most one-sided of any on the above maps. Most of his political support comes from the big cities and the inner suburbs. The exurbs, small towns, and rural areas generally voted Republican (with notable exceptions in the Upper Midwest)............

Voting input inevitably determines policy output, and these maps hold the key to Reich's disappointment with the President. In our system, it's not just the number of votes that matter, but - thanks to Roger Sherman - how they are distributed across the several states. Obama's urban support base was sufficient for political success in the House, which passed a very liberal health care bill last November. But rural places have greater sway in the Senate - and Obama's weakness in rural America made for a half-dozen skittish Democrats who represent strong McCain states. The evolving thinking on the left - "Obama should have used his campaign-trail magic to change the political dynamic" - is thus totally misguided. The "remarkable capacities he displayed during the 2008 campaign" never persuaded the constituents of the red state Democrats he had to win over. Why should they suddenly start doing so now? ...........

That brings up the other problem. Those red state Democrats. The migration question comes up again. Again look at the maps at the time of FDR to the time of IKE!!

What we are seeing in the South is a very populist and yellow dog democrat mentality and voting pattern. That populism I would say is still just under the surface. Even the Republican Mike Huckabee had a ting of it.

However look at Huckabee's home state where in the House we are about to see perhaps a great change of the make up of House delegation. Arkansas being the historically the most yellow dog of Deep South States. I contend that is important. There is a irony here if we look at this in terms of more "progressive" versus "conservative" and not so much party labels.

That is despite that populist and Dem leaning politics of many Southern areas the migration of more liberal northerners seems to have failed to produce more progressive/liberal type democrats over time on non social issue matters.

What does the future hold? Well we have seen signs in the north of that perhaps the GOP is rebuilding. That is good news.

However I wonder if we are going to see cracks quite soon in the Democrat lock hold on the urban vote and some of the suburb vote.

States all across this country are facing a severe crisis. This will continue when the States have to pick up a significant cost of Obama care. This was one reason why even Democrat State Governors were screaming.

New Federal mandates to fund, pension funds that are coming do, etc might on a wide level by necessity bring about a much more conservative way of governing and thus help the GOP.

The huge crisis facing State Governments is spread out all over the Country. The coming cuts that State Governments will have to make is not going to go down well among some of the Dem base and they will fight it. So this is going to set up an incredible tension in the democratic party on both a local and State level. The GOP will feel some of that but the Dems will face it more.

Well like Lincoln said a House divided cannot stand and I suspect the GOP to benefit more from this sad crisis we are facing.

So there is good and bad in this poll.

In the end I think politically the USA will be divided politically as ever as to Party and that perhaps is a good thing.


SJ Reidhead said...

Are you getting as tired of this anti-GOP stuff as I am. It is getting old, very old, very fast!

The Pink Flamingo

James H said...

So very very very tired. Everyone wanted to put the nail in the GOP 2 years ago and now look at us. They can't handle it