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Friday, July 18, 2003


More on TEDM & Dean

posted by B at Friday, July 18, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
On DR, Ruy's written a bit of defense to the questions raised about the seeming contradictions that I and others saw with the recent article written by John Judis:

DR is pretty familiar with the EDM thesis and can assure TAPPED and MyDD that there is no contradiction. The key point is that political leadership involves building coalitions that reach outside your base and absorb independent and moderate voters who are leaning your way. Clinton's strength was being able to synthesize the views of professionals with those of older elements of the Democratic coalition and present that synthesis in a way that made enough independent and moderate voters feel it was safe to vote Democratic. That includes the white working class and culturally conservative voters Dean is likely to have the most trouble with. DR believes that not all independents are created equal and that Dean's approach and persona is still likely to yield its most success with socially liberal, upscale independents in relatively liberal states.

As an aside, in reference to the high-bar, isn't Clinton's real electability found in that he had a social semi-conservative and fiscal surely-conservative run as an independent that banked his own campaign, and pulled down 18 percent, in 1992?

As for Dean's nation-wide electability, Dean has supporters in all 50 states. Orgainzed netroots/grassroots supporters. Dean was the first, even before Bush, to meet the FEC guidelines of having to raise $5,000 in 20 different states in amounts no greater than $250 from any individual. And, one of those Democrats who did turn out those type of Independent voters that DR is referring to, just endorsed Dean. Asked if he thinks Dean can beat President Bush, Metzenbaum replied: "I don't think I'd be here if he was a loser."

But John and Ruy are not working with the facts on the ground, instead, it's from a basis of historical electability and voting demographics from which they draw their conclusions.

The main social issue (the other electability issue that Judis raised was national security, which I'll try to address in a later post) that troubles Dean, McGovern-like, is VT's Civil Unions-- which Republicans refer to as gay marriage. I don't see it as big an electability issue as Ruy and John do, for two reasons. First, by the candidate Dean's response, and second, that the polling that shows this issue already having been generationally settled.

When I first heard Gov Dean talk on this issue a few years ago, he aptly described his background with the issue, framing it as one of equal rights, while at the same time differentiating himself from an advocate, by describing his own progression of affront to discomfort to acceptance. What DR might argue is that Dean's went on to become a preacher for the cause, but that's more interpretation than fact, and I've no doubt that Dean will seem centrist in his defense of his acceptance of this issue, and be able to differentiate it from marriage.

I would like for DR to spell out exactly how Dean is likely to have trouble with, in a way that any other Dem (well, make that just Kerry) would not?

Second, I'm sure that DR has seen the polling showing libertarian social tolerence escalates by a large factor with youth. If there is a group that the Republicans might wedge this social issue against Dean with, it's the elderly; whom might also be those social conservative workers that DR is referring to-- the same ones who backed Metzenbaum in Ohio, but by and large have dropped out of voting over the past few decades.

So the polling leads to ask: would the GOP risk having another '92-like session of intolerance on display in '04? I don't think Rove intends to go there. This administration is the most pro-GLBT Republican administration ever. I do think we'll see Reed play up to issue to the religious right, and some of that might spill onto the national coverage, but the upside for the Republicans making this an issue is very limited, especially in terms of influencing independents.

OK, that doubt aside, under the traditional voter roll, it is the type of independents that DR describes which a Democrat has needed to win. However, it's a really large pool of non-voters, 50%, so if Dean doesn't get it there, it's not like he doesn't have other places to gather that ~5 percent, right?

And this is the most important thing missed by Judis & DR in their electability equation-- that Dean is attracting people to politics that usually occasionally, or not at all, vote, much less, participate in the process.

DR is right, these are mostly white, affluent people. But you'll find at the meetups that 50% of them are independents, most of them involved in politics for the first time, new voters. I don't know how large a block the white working class and culturally conservative voters are that DR correctly sees as traditionally essential to a Democratic win at the Presidential level, but I would guess they shrink in comparison to the large numbers of those 50% of Americans who don't vote, but belong to the 50 million Cultural Creatives that are being attracted to Dean's campaign. Of course, these new voters belong to the emerging majority that would be Democrat-- if they vote.

That's a big if. Certainly Gephardt showed no know-how or leadership during the 2002 mid-terms in motivating them to vote. Kerry? Not to date. What Dean is doing is shifting the voter-turnout paradigm. This will have to be proved in the caucuses, primaries, and general, before it's a proven key to electability, but that's the case.

Also, Matt Zemak has a blog entry about Dissing Doctor Dean for further reading on Thoughts on Judis/Dean/McGovern.


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Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.