November 18, 2002
BACK TO THE FUTURE:Replay of Reagan-Era Voting Patterns Is Not Good News for Democrats (Ronald Brownstein, November 18 2002, LA Times)
[T]he GOP is reestablishing the advantages that produced its dominance in the Reagan era. Key among them:
White men: They were the backbone of the Reagan coalition -- in 1984, they gave Reagan a staggering 35-percentage-point margin over Mondale. In his two presidential races, Clinton reduced that deficit to around 10 points or less (partly because Reform Party candidate Ross Perot siphoned many white men away from the GOP). Now the gap is widening again: White men gave Republicans a 21-point margin in the 2002 vote, according to Greenberg's poll.
The resurgent GOP advantage among white men is so powerful that it could threaten one of the most important Democratic assets: the labor movement's turnout machine. Greenberg found that Democrats led Republicans this year among all union households by just 14 points -- half the margin of 1998--and only by six points among white union households. That's sufficiently reminiscent of Reagan's blue-collar appeal that it may soon be time to start talking about Bush Democrats.
Married women: They leaned Republican in the 1980s, which helped the GOP moderate the gender gap. (Then, as now, single women, who tend to be more liberal on social issues, voted mostly Democratic.) Clinton made progress here too, carrying married women in 1996 with a message built around "tools" for parents.
Now, values and security issues are nudging married women back toward the GOP. Republicans carried married women comfortably in the 1998 congressional race, ran even in the 2000 presidential race and, Greenberg found, posted a 10-point advantage in 2002.
Rural voters: They gave Reagan and President George Bush big margins in the 1980s, then divided almost evenly in the Clinton years. Now, Democrats are down on the farm again. Big gains in small places have been key to the recent Republican upsurge: GOP congressional candidates this year carried rural voters by more than 20 percentage points, just as Bush did in 2000.
The solid South: This region is resurfacing as the cornerstone of GOP strength. In the 1990s, Democrats enjoyed a mini-revival through Dixie, capturing several states with Clinton, adding two Senate seats and winning six governorships. But in the 2000 presidential race, Bush won every Southern state. And in 2002, Republicans recaptured three governor's mansions, ousted Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.) and easily held four open Southern Senate seats that had been in GOP hands.
These blocs may not give the GOP a majority, but they do create a base that is wide enough so that putting a consistent majority together is much easier. Posted by Orrin Judd at November 18, 2002 2:56 PM