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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Friday, December 19, 2003


Hope blooms as a cactus flower, not a magnolia blossom

posted by Amanda at Friday, December 19, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
There's been much discussion here at Dean Nation and elsewhere in the Dean community about the Confederate Flag flap and the larger issue of the Electoral map for 2004 and the red/blue state breakdown.

The conventional wisdom, repeated ad nauseum by the RNC and dutifully parroted by the right wing and supposedly unbiased mainstream media, as well as many of the other Democratic campaigns, is that the Democratic nominee must appeal to white swing voters -- basically, white suburban voters, especially men aka NASCAR dads -- in the South in order to win against GWB. Many folks have seen this as one of Dean's biggest weaknesses, he being from a granola-loving, tree-hugging Northern state.

But is this really the case? There's some fairly convincing evidence that the conventional wisdom is baloney (shocker! LOL). For example, Dean is leading in Georgia and Virginia and has garnered extensive endorsements in both states.

But there's also another way to look at the Electoral map, as Joe Velasquez and Steve Cobble point out in this article about the enormous potential of Latino voters in the blue/leaning blue states of the Southwest:

The new path to the White House runs through the Latino Southwest, not the former Confederacy, especially for a Northern nominee. Hope blooms as a cactus flower, not a magnolia blossom.

Which states hold the most potential?

Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico.

The 2000 election left us with a map split between blue states and red states. The conventional wisdom is that a Northern nominee, to win, will have to find a way to convert some of the old Confederate gray from red to blue. But most Southern states are burial grounds for Northern Democrats, not battlegrounds. Re-defeating George W. Bush in 2004 hinges on holding blue states on both coasts, making gains in the Midwest from West Virginia through Ohio to Missouri and adding New Hampshire -- and registering and mobilizing massive numbers of Latino voters in the Southwest and Florida.

Mobilizing the fast-rising Southwestern Latino population around the same progressive economic issues that can also unite poor whites and African-Americans is the ticket to ride in 2004. Even better, given the explosive growth rates for Latinos in the Old South -- not just in Texas and Florida but also in states like Georgia and North Carolina -- adding these new Latino votes to the strong existing African-American base there will transform American politics. As the Rev. Jesse Jackson often says, the hands that picked the cotton, plus the hands that picked the lettuce, are the hands that can pick the next President -- for years to come.

It would seem that DFA definitely recognizes this potential. Governor Dean has visited Arizona and New Mexico many, many times. He has courted the highly influential Gov. of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, who many view as the key to securing the Southwest Latino vote. Similarly, the Dean grassroots has picked up on this potential, too. Witness the innovation and success of the Southwest Voter Express, a volunteer-led project that's brought Dean grassroots folks from surrounding states, especially California, to help out in the key battleground states in the desert Southwest.

(UPDATE by Aziz : Don't forget that we have secured the endorsement of Arizona Gov Bruce Babbitt as well! Not to mention the endorsement of the DNC Hispanic Caucus leadership)

Again, the polls show this focus and strategy are slowly but surely paying off: Dean is polling well in Arizona (another AZ poll here) and Gov. Richardson has indicated that Dean is gaining huge support, especialy among Latino voters, in New Mexico (sorry, I can't find a link for that quote, but maybe someone else has it?).

As Garance Franke-Ruta and Heidi Pauken note in The American Prospect, Dean is making steady gains in this part of the world. In Arizona, "Deaniacs are swarming" and in New Mexico (which is 42% Hispanic):

...Gov. Bill Richardson has all but endorsed Dean (as chairman of the Democratic National Convention in July, he can't do so officially). Dean has run ads in Spanish and English and has three times more staff than the other [candidates].

Read the rest of the TAP article for some really good state-by-state primary voting analysis.

UPDATE: MG makes some excellent (but a bit too lengthy to post here) points in the comments thread. Check 'em out. Thanks, MG!


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About Nation-Building

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.