Monday, March 25, 2013

Think Progress: John Halpin- ‘The Obama Coalition, The Working Class, And RFK

Source:Think Progress- the Obama Coalition is a beautiful portrait of America.

“The potential of the new Obama coalition is truly impressive, given its 2012 performance and how many of its constituent parts are likely to grow in numbers over the course of the decade. But the word “potential” should be stressed. There is no guarantee that turnout and support levels will stay as high as they have been going forward. And there is definitely no guarantee that these constituencies will remain active and involved in the legislative battles that must be fought to turn progressive policies into law. Thus, implementing a progressive agenda will, to a large extent, be dependent on the mobilization level of the Obama coalition both in future elections and between those elections.

This is a big challenge, but Obama and his team have taken some significant steps to address it. These steps have been driven by the recognition that the best way to maintain enthusiasm and support is to deliver for the groups that put you in office. Thus, the administration has been aggressively pushing a number of policy priorities that resonate with the concerns of different groups in the coalition: immigration reform, curbing gun violence, same sex marriage, climate change and universal pre-K.

This strategy is a good one. These fights are all substantively important in policy terms and may, with luck, result in some important victories. And they should indeed pump up enthusiasm levels as different groups in the coalition see how strongly Obama is willing to fight for their priorities. Nor does it seem likely that a big political price will be paid for touching on issues that have a social dimension; the country has moved rapidly in a progressive direction on most of these issues and these issues lack the power they once had to elicit a backlash.” 

I think the main advantage that the Republican Party has over the Democratic Party has do with with their voters. I’m not talking about race, ethnicity, gender, etc, but cultural and generational. Republicans tend to show up and show in big numbers and when they lose, it’s generally not because their voters didn’t show up, but Democrats had record turnout, at least when you are talking about competitive elections in swing districts or states, or at the presidential level.

Republicans tend to get stereotyped as people who are all or nothing voters:

“You do exactly what I want you to do and say exactly what I want you to say and believe in the exact same things that I do, or I won’t vote for you.” When the fact is Republicans tend to vote for the candidate in the Republican primary who has the best shot at beating the Democrat in the general election. And the Republicans who didn’t vote for the most mainstream Republican in the primary, turn out and vote in the general for the Republican that they didn’t vote for in the primary, because that person isn’t the Democrat and is to the right of the Democrat, and they probably at least tend to agree with that Republican on economic issues.

Democratic voters are just very different. They tend to be younger and less politically active, more ideological, and tend to vote for candidates based on personal issues. They want someone who they like, who they have personal and cultural connections with. And they’re also voters who won’t show up in the general election to vote for Democrats just to beat the Republicans. But they have to like the Democrat personally and ideologically before they can vote for them.

So if you are a leader in the Democratic Party right now, especially at the Democratic National Committee or at the state level, you should be focusing on Democratic turnout. How do you get Democrats to show and vote during every primary and general election, even if the Democratic candidates or incumbents aren’t ideologically pure (according to the left-wing) and get those folks to turnout and vote for the Democrats anyway. Because at the end of the day, political parties are in the business of winning political elections. Not advancing partisan, ideological, political movements. 

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