GOP Not Allowed to Talk About the "Will of the Public"

John Boehner can't stop talking about the "will of the public" these days. Now that the Republicans have won the House, he keeps saying over and over that the Democrats must go along with Republican plans from now on because they have to listen to the... will of the public.

Well, here's what I don't remember -- the Republicans giving a damn about the will of the public after the 2008 elections. The American people spoke as loudly and clearly as I have ever seen in any election in my lifetime. They gave the House and the Senate by overwhelming margins to the Democrats. They also gave the Democrats the White House, and along with it, complete control of Washington. And did the Republicans listen to the will of the public, then? No, they blocked that will at every turn.

So, you'll excuse me now if I'm not buying the sudden increased interest the GOP has in listening to the American people and the results of an election. They never for one second respected the results of the 2008 election. They didn't give a damn what the American people wanted.

And that's their right as the opposition party, but they don't get to pretend now that they respect the results of an election and take it as a mandate to go in a certain political direction. And the Democrats would be damned fools if they fell for that trick.

By the way, the GOP has a funny definition of what the American people want. Here is the popularity, according to recent polls, of the different pieces of legislation they just opposed:

  1. Don't Ask, Don't Tell -- 77%
  1. START Treaty -- 67%
  1. Dream Act -- 54%
  1. Tax Cuts for Only the Middle Class and Not the Rich -- 67%
  1. 9/11 Responders Bill -- 99% (no polling on this, but who on God's green earth was against this)

By the way, the Obama administration has been given tremendous credit by the media for passing three out of five of these priorties. Really? Not one of the things they got through had popularity less than 67%. In fact, they conceded to the Republicans on an issue where they had two-thirds of the country behind them (no tax cuts for the rich).

The Republicans certainly don't get any credit for these bills passing despite their best efforts. In fact, they opposed these universally popular proposals -- and defeated some of them. And they spent the last two years completely and utterly ignoring the will of the voters. So, the next time they come with that nonsense line, someone should shove the real truth down their throats.

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Reflections on Joe Lieberman

Senator Joe Lieberman has recently announced his resignation, pending expectations that he will probably lose his next Senate race. For many on the far left, Mr. Lieberman was a hated figure; a traitor on issues beginning from his loud support of the Iraq War.

Mr. Lieberman, on the other hand, came to dislike the far left in equal measure. After they defeated him in the 2006 Democratic primary, he ran for Senator as an independent. He went on to win that race by the high single-digits and never forgave the netroots or the Democratic Party for what he thought they had done to him.

Mr. Lieberman has spent the rest of his life attempting to block all that the netroots hold dear. He was the only Democratic senator to support Republican candidate John McCain, even going as far as to speak at the Republican National Convention. During that time Mr. McCain seriously considered the Jewish senator as his running mate.

Then, during the health care debate, it was Mr. Lieberman who put the death blow onto the public option. This was probably the dearest provision in the bill to online activists, hoping to use it to create a single-payer, universal, government-run health care system (what conservatives call socialist health care, an accurate description in this case). Mr. Lieberman’s role in the defeat of this dream further enraged the netroots community.

All this does little to speak well of neither the netroots community nor Mr. Lieberman. The former overestimated their power in attempting to defeat the senator; their influence over the Democratic primary electorate turned out not to extend to the general electorate, where Mr. Lieberman won as an independent. Since that election, the senator has made the far left pay far more than it would have if the netroots had just stayed quiet.

But Mr. Lieberman comes out the worst. A high government official should never let his or her emotions drive him to make decisions. Doing so can be dangerous for the country’s health. Yet since 2006 Mr. Lieberman’s entire career seems to have been dedicated to anger-fueled retaliation.

Perhaps the senator deserves to be angry, perhaps not. But public servants should not behave in the manner Mr. Lieberman been doing. Things such as the public option are serious matters, not tools to get petty personal revenge. They affect hundreds of millions of Americans. They are part of a very important debate over what policies the United States must take. Deciding to oppose something like the public option as retribution for a personal matter is not responsible.

It is probably a good thing that Mr. Lieberman has declared his resignation.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

 

 

Analyzing the South Carolina Gubernatorial Election, Part 2

 

 

 

The Winds of Change in Georgia, Part 1

This is the first part of two posts describing a fascinating election in Georgia. The second part can be found here.

Georgia is a red state. It votes reliably Republican; the Republican Party controls every level of Georgia’s state government. It would be miraculous for Barack Obama to win the state in 2012.

However, Georgia used to be a very blue state. It belonged to the Solid South, a Democratic stronghold for generations. As early as 1948, however, the first signs of change came. Backlash against the Civil Rights movement and the growth of Republican suburbia eventually destroyed the Democratic Party in Georgia.

(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

The 1980 Georgia Senate Election

I have come across a very interesting election which illustrates this shift. To the best of my knowledge there is not any election similar to what happened in the 1980 Georgia Senate election:

This election posed incumbent Democratic Senator Herman Talmadge against Republican challenger Mack Mattingly.

At this time Georgia was definitely beginning to shift Republican, like its fellow southern states. At the same time, however, Democrats continued to hold great strength in the rural areas. Local Democrats consistently outperformed their presidential candidates (indeed, it would take until the late 1990s for Republicans to begin consistently winning statewide elections).

Democratic Senator Talmadge is a very interesting figure. He was one of the last of the old-style Southern Democrats. This meant that he was an economic liberal, dedicated to improving the lot of the white rural Georgian farmer through government programs. It also meant that he was strongly conservative in most other things, including race. Like all old-style Southern Democrats, Senator Talmadge was a strong proponent of segregation.

Talmadge would probably have won in normal circumstances (Georgia was still pretty Democratic at a local level in 1980). However, he had the misfortune to be caught up in a finance scandal.  This, along with a tough primary challenge and Georgia’s slowly reddening trend, led to his historic loss. Republican Mack Mattingly thus became the second Republican Senator in Georgia, ever. The previous Republican Senator had held office more than a century before Mattingly.

Let's compare Mattingly's coalition with Senator John McCain's coalition in the 2008 presidential election.

Republicans in 2008

McCain won Georgia, unsurprisingly. His coalition is a very typical Republican coalition today; he won and lost the same areas that Republicans usually win and lose today.

Notice the vast difference between McCain’s coalition of 2008 and Mattingly’s coalition of 1980. Republicans nowadays in Georgia generally win based on a coalition of rural whites and suburban whites living north of Atlanta. The city of Atlanta itself, heavily minority, is a Democratic stronghold. But suburban Republican strength north of Atlanta severely diminishes Democratic margins coming out of the city. In good elections, Republicans can even win the metropolitan area entirely. In closer elections, such as 2008, they can rely on the ever-more Republican rural white vote to do the rest of the job.

It should be noted that suburban Atlanta is well on its way to becoming minority-majority. Nevertheless, Republicans are at the moment still able to get good margins out of it.

Republicans in 1980

In 1980, the Republican coalition was almost the exact opposite of this. Republican Senator Mattingly’s greatest strength came out of the Atlanta metropolis. He actually won the heavily-minority counties in Atlanta itself, something unheard of for any Republican today. On the other hand, Mattingly performed extremely poorly with rural whites, who strongly preferred his Democratic opponent. Today it would be unheard of for any Republican to do as poorly as Mattingly did in rural Georgia.

Another fascinating difference: compare how the cities voted in the two elections. In 2008 Barack Obama won every single county home to a city listed in the map above. In 1980, Democrat Herman Talmadge lost all of these places except for Macon. It wasn’t just Atlanta that voted Republican in that election; so did all the smaller cities outside of it. Today all of these places vote Democratic.

There are two constants between these two elections. In both 1980 and 2008, Republicans were able to win Atlanta’s northern suburbs and rural northern Georgia. In 1980 Republicans did better in the suburbs; in 2008 they did better in rural northern Georgia. Both times these two areas proved key for the Republican victory.

The Black Vote

There is one final concern which has not been touched upon: the role of Georgia’s black population in all this. African-Americans compose almost one-third of Georgia’s population, and their presence was a key influence (or perhaps “the” key influence) in Georgia’s Republican shift.

In 1980 Republican candidate Mack Mattingly won areas with substantial black populations, most notably the heavily-black city of Atlanta itself. Surely Democratic Senator Herman Talmadge’s dedicated support to segregation wouldn’t have appealed to the black vote.

So did Republicans win the black vote in this 1980 election?

This is in fact the reason that I decided to write this analysis in the first place, and the next post will examine this question.

--inoljt

 

The Winds of Change in Georgia, Part 1

This is the first part of two posts describing a fascinating election in Georgia. The second part can be found here.

Georgia is a red state. It votes reliably Republican; the Republican Party controls every level of Georgia’s state government. It would be miraculous for Barack Obama to win the state in 2012.

However, Georgia used to be a very blue state. It belonged to the Solid South, a Democratic stronghold for generations. As early as 1948, however, the first signs of change came. Backlash against the Civil Rights movement and the growth of Republican suburbia eventually destroyed the Democratic Party in Georgia.

(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

The 1980 Georgia Senate Election

I have come across a very interesting election which illustrates this shift. To the best of my knowledge there is not any election similar to what happened in the 1980 Georgia Senate election:

This election posed incumbent Democratic Senator Herman Talmadge against Republican challenger Mack Mattingly.

At this time Georgia was definitely beginning to shift Republican, like its fellow southern states. At the same time, however, Democrats continued to hold great strength in the rural areas. Local Democrats consistently outperformed their presidential candidates (indeed, it would take until the late 1990s for Republicans to begin consistently winning statewide elections).

Democratic Senator Talmadge is a very interesting figure. He was one of the last of the old-style Southern Democrats. This meant that he was an economic liberal, dedicated to improving the lot of the white rural Georgian farmer through government programs. It also meant that he was strongly conservative in most other things, including race. Like all old-style Southern Democrats, Senator Talmadge was a strong proponent of segregation.

Talmadge would probably have won in normal circumstances (Georgia was still pretty Democratic at a local level in 1980). However, he had the misfortune to be caught up in a finance scandal.  This, along with a tough primary challenge and Georgia’s slowly reddening trend, led to his historic loss. Republican Mack Mattingly thus became the second Republican Senator in Georgia, ever. The previous Republican Senator had held office more than a century before Mattingly.

Let's compare Mattingly's coalition with Senator John McCain's coalition in the 2008 presidential election.

Republicans in 2008

McCain won Georgia, unsurprisingly. His coalition is a very typical Republican coalition today; he won and lost the same areas that Republicans usually win and lose today.

Notice the vast difference between McCain’s coalition of 2008 and Mattingly’s coalition of 1980. Republicans nowadays in Georgia generally win based on a coalition of rural whites and suburban whites living north of Atlanta. The city of Atlanta itself, heavily minority, is a Democratic stronghold. But suburban Republican strength north of Atlanta severely diminishes Democratic margins coming out of the city. In good elections, Republicans can even win the metropolitan area entirely. In closer elections, such as 2008, they can rely on the ever-more Republican rural white vote to do the rest of the job.

It should be noted that suburban Atlanta is well on its way to becoming minority-majority. Nevertheless, Republicans are at the moment still able to get good margins out of it.

Republicans in 1980

In 1980, the Republican coalition was almost the exact opposite of this. Republican Senator Mattingly’s greatest strength came out of the Atlanta metropolis. He actually won the heavily-minority counties in Atlanta itself, something unheard of for any Republican today. On the other hand, Mattingly performed extremely poorly with rural whites, who strongly preferred his Democratic opponent. Today it would be unheard of for any Republican to do as poorly as Mattingly did in rural Georgia.

Another fascinating difference: compare how the cities voted in the two elections. In 2008 Barack Obama won every single county home to a city listed in the map above. In 1980, Democrat Herman Talmadge lost all of these places except for Macon. It wasn’t just Atlanta that voted Republican in that election; so did all the smaller cities outside of it. Today all of these places vote Democratic.

There are two constants between these two elections. In both 1980 and 2008, Republicans were able to win Atlanta’s northern suburbs and rural northern Georgia. In 1980 Republicans did better in the suburbs; in 2008 they did better in rural northern Georgia. Both times these two areas proved key for the Republican victory.

The Black Vote

There is one final concern which has not been touched upon: the role of Georgia’s black population in all this. African-Americans compose almost one-third of Georgia’s population, and their presence was a key influence (or perhaps “the” key influence) in Georgia’s Republican shift.

In 1980 Republican candidate Mack Mattingly won areas with substantial black populations, most notably the heavily-black city of Atlanta itself. Surely Democratic Senator Herman Talmadge’s dedicated support to segregation wouldn’t have appealed to the black vote.

So did Republicans win the black vote in this 1980 election?

This is in fact the reason that I decided to write this analysis in the first place, and the next post will examine this question.

--inoljt

 

 

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