Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Democrats invest in a losing strategy


The recent decision of the DNC to change it's primary season lineup is an unwise political maneuver that will undoubtedly favor the GOP in the 2008 Presidential season. The DNC has decided to reduce the influence New Hampshire and Iowa have on the selection of their 2008 candidate by adding Nevada and South Carolina to the early primary schedule. In the updated calender the Iowa caucuses would remain first followed by the Nevada caucus, New Hampshire primary and finally the primary in South Carolina. The stated goal of the move is to include more minority voices in the selection of a candidate. Donna Brazile political commentator and former Gore campaign manager was quoted as saying "This is a net plus for democracy, but it is also a net plus for the Democratic Party which is trying to rebuild from the bottom up and also trying to include more voices in the process." However as Peter Brown pointed out in an article the Democratic Party has no problem receiving minority votes in Presidential elections, Kerry received over 85% of the African American vote and 55% of the Hispanic vote. The key to understanding the move by the DNC is understanding the motives behind it. In 2004 George Bush won Nevada by only 21,000 votes, making Nevada a state the Dems believe they can pick up in '08. In the same way South Carolina although solidly Republican is seen as a way for the Democratic Party to make inroads in the solid GOP south, upon which any successful Republican Presidential candidate relies. A more detailed look at the statistics shows Republicans increasing their percentage of the Hispanic vote from 35% in 2000 to 45% in 2004. With this knowledge it's easy to see why the DNC would be interested in Nevada's 23% Hispanic population as opposed to 3.5% in IA and 2% in NH.

The DNC's decision seems on the surface to be a good move, however increasing their percentage of the minority vote is not the reason they continue to lose Presidential elections. Issues aside Democrats are never able to gain a majority of the white vote. Furthermore Democratic Candidates will spend valuable resources to gain the nomination, while Republicans have the ability to tailor their nominee to defeat whoever the Democrats nominate. Another argument against the change is that Democrats will be vying for the nomination when no one is watching, leaving the public's attention to the GOP nominating process. Finally by bumping New Hampshire the DNC has created the conditions that may help the GOP regain NH in 2008, given the circumstances 9,000 votes doesn't seem like a lot to overcome. NH Democrats will likely schedule their primary before any other primaries, bypassing the DNC and creating a showdown between Dean and New Hampshire voters. A Republican pickup of New Hampshire in 2008 would all but assure victory in the election and continued control of the White House.

The Democratic Parties most recent controversy highlights the parties disarray. Instead of focusing on a primary schedule that has produced mostly losing candidates, the Democrats should retake the party from the far left that has increasingly influenced candidate selection in recent years. In this way Donna Brazile was correct in saying more people need a voice in the nominating process, luckily for the GOP the DNC did not take her advice as traditional Democrats are becoming fringe members of the Democratic Party. The Republican primaries have no clear favorite luckily for us all we may have to do is wait and watch for the Democratic primaries to self destruct.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

If I were a Democrat strategist, I would be terrified of loosing the minority hold that the party has. The one problem that they have of being the party for thoes who always go "underrepresented" is that now that thoes groups are getting into the limelight, they no longer have a need for Democrats. African-Americans and Hispanics are increasingly registering as Republican voters because the move into a higher socioeconomic status changes their views on the various isseus. The Democrats no longer represent the needs that they had a few years ago, and you can see that in the voter registration data and the voting percentages between the 2000 and 2004 election cycles. The needs of the minority groups are changing. The person that was taking Welfare a year ago is now a homeowner with a secure job, and they certainly don't want their tax dollars going to someone that will not spend it constructively. They want to keep moving up in the world, and no one would call the Democrats the party of economic progress. In a few more election cycles, I am confident that the Democrats will loose the minority vote all together. They better rethink their platform now if they want to stand a chance to win elections in the toss-up states.