Democrats Rising

This morning on This Week With George Stephanopoulos, Sen. Chuck Hagel rolled out the tired third way argument that voters are dis-illusioned with both parties in equal amounts. He stopped short of calling for the formation of a third party, nor did he announce he would be taking his own advice and leave the Republican Party, but he certainly advanced the typical view of post-partisan types that the two parties are viewed as equally to blame for the failures of government in recent years.

HAGEL: When a party or a leader or a philosophy about government becomes irrelevant in the eyes of the voter in that they're not fixing the problems.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that's what's happened to the Republican Party?

HAGEL: I think both parties, not just the Republican Party. When you look at registered Independents today, it is not the majority of registered voters but the plurality. There are now more registered independents today in America than Democrats or Republicans. Look at the polls on congress. Our congressional approval rating poll numbers are lower than the president's. They're at historic lows. The question last week, for example, in Gallup, right way/wrong way, is America going in the right direction or wrong direction? 81% according to Gallup last week said Americans believe America's going in the wrong direction.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But that's been a time when the Republican Party has had the White House for 7 years.

HAGEL: So the Republican Party has to take some very significant responsibility, sure, I'm not trying to skate around that, but the point is bigger than just the Republican Party.

No doubt the figure Hagel is citing here is from the recently released Pew poll that shows Republicans with 27% party ID, Democrats with 36% and "Independents" with 37% but Hagel leaves out a few pretty important factors here.

First, from Pew's analysis:

The balance of party identification in the American electorate now favors the Democratic Party by a decidedly larger margin than in either of the two previous presidential election cycles. [...]

The share of voters who call themselves Republicans has declined by six points since 2004, and represents, on an annualized basis, the lowest percentage of self-identified Republican voters in 16 years of polling by the Center.

Second, Hagel ignores the advantage Democrats have among those unaffiliated voters.

The Democratic Party has also built a substantial edge among independent voters. Of the 37% who claim no party identification, 15% lean Democratic, 10% lean Republican, and 12% have no leaning either way.

Not to mention the trend during the 2001-2007 period of essentially single party rule during which unaffiliated voters went from 31% (in third place in party ID) to 37% (in first place.) Since 2007, that trend has leveled out while Democratic party ID has ticked up 1 point and Republican partisan ID has ticked down 1. Part of the reason this is happening of course, is that Democrats have taken control of congress. Another, perhaps more significant factor, again, one that Hagel ignores, is the excitement being generated by the Democratic nomination contest. We've seen it in state after state and it is evident in Pennsylvania as we speak:

Pennsylvania residents are registering in anticipated record numbers in advance of Monday's deadline to vote in the April 22 primary.

Democratic enrollment is up by more than 110,000 since last year's election, an increase of roughly 3 percent, state election officials said. It is likely to surpass the record of 4 million by Monday. Republicans lost about 14,000 voters in the same period.

More than 58,000 registered voters have changed their affiliation to Democratic, with about 10,000 changing to Republican. Voters must be registered in a party to vote in the state's primary.

Do guys like Hagel, McCain, Lieberman and the Broders and Brookses of the world really believe what they're selling? Certainly the increased partisan identification among unaffiliated voters provides a convenient metric by which to claim dis-illusionment with the 2-party system but to ignore the utter rejection of one party over the other and to ignore the rising tide of the Democratic brand as the excitement of our candidates sweeps the nation, is to stick their heads in the sand. As with most things, the voters are out ahead of the conventional Washington wisdom; one wonders when the rest of them will catch up.

Tags: 2008 Presidential election, Chuck Hagel, Democratic nomination, Democrats, partisan identification, Republicans (all tags)



Post partisan pony

This is the man Obama wants for his sec. of state.

by Alice Marshall 2008-03-23 12:08PM | 0 recs

Do guys like Hagel, McCain, Lieberman and the Broders and Brookses of the world really believe what they're selling?

They probably do. Thing is, this is part and parcel of the Beltway Disease, the one where you need to be exquisitiely balanced between two partisans to achieve that vaunted journalistic neutrality and/or bipartisan credibility that plays well on the cocktail party circuit. This comes from the old conceit that every opinion is worth hearing. Problem is, the opinions of the right have become demonstrably batshit insane.

by MBNYC 2008-03-23 12:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Democrats Rising

Maybe its just me, but in my estimation there are different types of so-called "third-wayers."

I think there is the McCain/Lieberman group that espouses a third way because they don't really believe in anything but their own importance (there was a time when I wouldn't have said that about McCain, but it certainly seems as if he is there now.) These guys don't really care what their affiliation is or what they are fighting for as long as they are fighting for something and it is politically convenient for them.

Then there are guys like Hagel, who although he tends to be rather conservative actually believes, from what I can see, that there has to be something beyond the current two party system. As to him ignoring the rejection of one party over the other- it makes sense that he would ignore that, it has to be unpleasant for him; not only that his party has suffered from this rejection but because he likely feels like his party doesn't represent his beliefs the way that, maybe, it used to... this is probably made even more difficult by the fact that he is watching McCain get the Presidential nomination for his party by caving in on every single issue while pretending he is still an independent thinker.

by JDF 2008-03-23 12:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Democrats Rising

I wish I understood why people were still buying into McCain's line of crap.

On the other hand at least Obama comes close to him in favorables... although I imagine they will both be closer to the 50% line come November once they are done pounding the crap out of each other.

by JDF 2008-03-23 12:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Democrats Rising

That map doesn't tell us much, yet.  Not only are the 2004 results included in the averages, but McCain hasn't taken the pounding that either Democratic candidate has.  Let's see those numbers after we soften him up a bit.

by KTinOhio 2008-03-23 01:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Democrats Rising

Michigan will come home by to the idea that we have to win both of them this is probably true but we have no idea what states Obama will put in play for us in November if he is the nominee (other than Iowa and their 7 electoral votes... which I feel confident he will win.)

As I said above, come November I don't see McCain carrying Michigan. Pennsylvania is a tougher issue, but we'll see what happens. As a state it has been steadily turning bluer across the board (Casey took Santorum's seat, 4 new congressmen, and we took back the State house in 2006.)

by JDF 2008-03-23 03:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Democrats Rising
     According to a Rasmussen poll released yesterday, Obama leads McCain in Virginia 48-47.
     This fall, we're going to be the ones criticizing NAFTA. That should be very helpful in winning Ohio and Michigan. If McCain wins PA, Obama can still win with 272-276 electoral votes by carrying Kerry's other states and adding Ohio, Iowa, New Mexico, and any one of Virginia, Missouri, or Colorado.
     Nobody has campaigned against McCain from his left yet. I think he'll prove a very weak candidate in the end, like Dole. A hero, but past his prime.
by Ron Thompson 2008-03-23 05:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Democrats Rising

Yes, people are ready for a new party. Or soon they will be. Let's not pat Dem's on the back because they are not insane like the R's.  Pelosi and Reed have been awful for the party. Strong Dems like us have some patience for it, but most do not. Sent to end the war and acted like cowardly politicians.  If the Dems don't show stength after '08, I would consider unregistering as a Dem. Of course, my 3rd way does not look like Hagels.  But I'm not sure what it would look like for me. Right or wrong, Dems will get lumped in the Repubs if they don't act like adults soon.  

by oc 2008-03-23 12:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Democrats Rising

This is a true enough point, and one that tends to be ignored under the constant barrage of "Anything But Republicans" mantra that makes Democratic candidates the un-cola of electoral politics. People  are constantly unsatisfied and then constantly revote the dumb bastards in.

Of course, someone will retort, that its impossible for third parties considering the way elections and government are set up. A fair enough point, But I'm not seeing much real anger at changing this state of affairs, something that COULD happen, or at the very least be promoted every once in awhile. Larger, probably more arduous campaigns for things like that, get swept under the rug of whatever the crisis of the day or week is. In fact its one of the things I dislike the most about blogs; they are fundamentally reactionary, always RESPONDING to someone or something as opposed to putting out a BROADER agenda.

by Sean Siberio 2008-03-23 03:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Democrats Rising

You're right, Sean, re blogs.  That's why everyday there are multiple 'BREAKING:' diaries. People will abandon the Dems if we don't get our act together not for a 3rd party, but because of broken hearts and anger.  That is what Pelosi and Reed have done.  The public gave Dems a shot and we have failed.  Dems have  lied to the public. Even 'strong' Dems like Webb - I don't recall any filibusters on his part to help defund the war.  All the money, votes and energy being thrown to support Clinton and Obama are less about the candidates and more about people giving Dems one last, desperate chance.  If a Democratic president and congress fail to respond to the public and end this war killing our troops and iraqi's then the party will be abandoned, and rightly so.

I expect to be a proud Dem for 2010, if I have no pride, I will not be a Dem.

PS - to those in the green party, go away, this is not an opening for you.

by oc 2008-03-23 03:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Democrats Rising

PS - to those in the green party, go away, this is not an opening for you.

Than whom exactly? Many people have put together a litany of things they don't like about, say, Blue Dog Democrats, but very few people have actually put together a coherent political ideal of what they actually want. There's lots of nice platitudes revolving around the words peace, economic justice, opportunity, etc, but very few people actually sit down and explain what they mean in concrete terms.

Part of this, I think, comes out of a fear of appearing to be orthodox or doctrinaire. But actually figuring out what you want, instead of running around like a chicken with its head cut off, is a big improvement over being in a constant state of crisis, which is mostly what I was getting at with the blog comment above.

by Sean Siberio 2008-03-23 03:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Democrats Rising

You are right again.  But I don't think ending the war is an orthodox or niche position.  The country, not just Dems, want it over.  This is not conservative v. liberal, it is as sensible as supporting the right fopr people to breath.  End the war.  It's simple.

In truth, I've been a loyal voting Democrat for 20 years, so I doubt there is a chance in 2010 I dump the party.  I'm mostly venting today.

by oc 2008-03-23 05:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Democrats Rising

Webb is not what I would call a "strong" Dem, as he's pretty conservative (which is what is needed  for a Dem to win states like Virginia) and has consistently voted against defunding the war.

by skohayes 2008-03-23 03:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Democrats Rising

I know, but has he or any Dem filabustered?

by oc 2008-03-23 04:59PM | 0 recs

It's not a general political problem we have in this country, it's a Republican problem, and the voter tides are reaffirming that. Hagel is a phoney, just like the very unmaverick John McCain, and that snake Joe Lie-berman.

by Christopher Lib 2008-03-23 12:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Democrats Rising

It always bugs me about this Third Way argument that if you look at Independents closely, about 2/3 of the actually consistently back one of the two Parties.

If you follow issues that are only backed by major particular ideological blocs, e.g. the 24% liberals, etc., there are so many Indies that identify with each ideological bloc that the best way to model them is as pretty much constant amounts of them along most of political spectrum.    With some clustering in the center 10-20% to make up for the diminished numbers of registered or selfidentifying Republicans and Democrat.  This has probably changed now, with more ideologically or habitually Republican leaners or moderate Republicans identifying as Independent recently.  But in no way clustering as dramatically in the real center- around the 50% mark between the Right and Left ends- as the likes of Hagel and Lieberman and such would have you believe.

So about 2/3 of Indies are simply people pretty much stationed in partisan-identified parts of the political spectrum.  A lump seems to be forming to the right of center as people leave Republicans.  The simplest conclusion to draw is that Indies as a group they just don't like belonging to or identifying with the Party they usually side with.

As for Hagel, I think the way to understand what he's saying is that he realizes a lump of Indies is forming out of moderate and leaner Republicans.  That ideological place (center Right) is also the one from which the country was governed by a kind of inofficial consensus from 1968 to 2004 at least.  Hagel and the rest think that this consensus is good and should be restored...but the thing is, Bush's Presidency has been a fight to keep the country center-Right centered against all the pressures otherwise.  Rove was so confident of achieving it that he started all the "permanent Republican majority" talk in 2002.

But contrary to what his team imagined, his Presidency has been not about proving the American Right's usefulness, it's been about expending it.  The condition of the world is ever slipping away from that of 1968, is become too different.  The pressure to adapt to a post-Cold War global situation and slip or lurch leftward on domestic issues (i.e. deciding the social rights Culture War and moving on the economic element) is too strong.  When the country has decided to adapt to a new set of conditions, the political gravity shifts to center-Left.

Hagel thinks the old consensus can be restored.  It can't, and there isn't any obvious positive reason to want it restored except that it is familiar and comfortable to lot of white Americans over age sixty or age seventy.

by killjoy 2008-03-23 12:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Democrats Rising

I, for one, think the idea of a third party will be great.  I became a naturalized citizen in 2000 and have voted Democratic candidates during the last eight years.  Having witnessed what a disaster a right extremist President can be, I am convinced a similar disaster can happen if a left extremist President (such as Pelosi) is elected.  If neither Republican nor Democrat are willing to govern from the center, a third party is the way to go.  What a great thing has happened in Israel politics!

by gort256 2008-03-23 12:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Democrats Rising

  What great thing is that precisely?  Israel is controlled by right-wingers of a different name.  And incompetent, unpopular ones at that.

by cilerder86 2008-03-23 12:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Democrats Rising

I don't know whats more absurd the idea that Pelosi is a "left extremist" or the idea that milquetoast moderate politics is somehow what most people are thirsting for.

The word "Extremist" has been so overused that its become useless. Another man's extremist is another woman's liberator. Every movement worth a damn has always started small, and progressed from encompassing a small fraction of the population to increasingly larger and larger parts of it. This is not a bad thing.

by Sean Siberio 2008-03-23 03:17PM | 0 recs
Good - go Gore!

I'm currently suffering from electyle dysfunction.  Now, if Gore were a candidate, I'd get all excited!

by Southern Mouth 2008-03-23 12:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Democrats Rising

Hagel is making a good point. Centrists on both sides are looking for a new way.

by LP from MD 2008-03-23 12:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Democrats Rising

is there a such thing as a republican centrist?  If  you are affiliated with the republican party, in my eyes you are an extremist.  If you were centrist, you would leave the party.  

by atomic garden 2008-03-23 01:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Democrats Rising

Repubs say the same thing about Dems.

by LP from MD 2008-03-23 02:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Democrats Rising

I don't know if I will ever blog about the elections in the US again. There is nothing honorable in politics in the US anymore. I don't think the Founding Fathers will proud. They will be ashamed. This is a proud country. But politicians do everything to kill that honor and pride. Left, right and centre. ounding-fathers-will-be-ashamed/

by Angry African 2008-03-23 01:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Democrats Rising

Nice that Hagel is not endorsing McCain and probably will not.

by Bob H 2008-03-23 02:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Democrats Rising
I should hope not- hasn't Obama's campaign floated the idea of Hagel for his Sec Def?
I've certainly read plenty of diaries over at DKos suggesting Hagel for Obama's VP (blech to both ideas).
To his credit, Hagel is one of the rare breed anti-war Republicans, but folks forget, because he agrees with us on one issue, doesn't make him a desirable member of a Democratic administration.
by skohayes 2008-03-23 04:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Democrats Rising

Labels without meaning seem to provide us with little insight. So calling yourself a Republican is losing cache. Respondents still aren't calling themselves liberal (the cutpoint is past 4 on the 7 point scale.)

This is like an argument about whether you support the Cubs or the White Sox, not your view on the proper role of government.

by hctb 2008-03-23 04:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Democrats Rising

I doubt a third party will ever gain a national footing in this counrty for more than one congressional cycle, given our first past the post voting system and non-parlimentary representation.  A third party can only really result from exploiting a power vacuum due to the complete collapse of a current party.  While this is always possible, I doubt either the Republican or Democratic party will actually collapse, just that one might wane severly for a maybe a decade.

by goodleh 2008-03-23 05:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Democrats Rising
Your partyn is on the upswing. If you don't win it this year, you will be back in the White House by 2020.
But of couse, this being the Blog Birch Society, we must be all negative, all the time.
by spirowasright 2008-03-23 11:06PM | 0 recs
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