February 1, 2005


What got so many counties to shift from blue to red? (Jill Lawrence and Susan Page, 2/01/05, USA TODAY)

When President Bush delivers his State of the Union address Wednesday, he'll survey a Capitol Hill landscape that reflects the heartland he won on Election Day.

He says his victory vindicates his decision to go to war with Iraq and gives him a mandate for his domestic plans, topped by transforming part of Social Security into private or personal investment accounts.

But that's not what drew voters to Bush in four counties that tipped Republican last year. In dozens of interviews with voters in Florida, Michigan, Missouri and New Jersey, no Bush voter mentioned Social Security. Many who cited Iraq as their reason for supporting him also said they oppose the war or have concerns about his conduct of it.

Still, across the nation, the shift was striking: 153 counties that voted Democratic for president in 1996 and 2000 chose Bush in 2004; only 11 chose Democrat John Kerry after voting Republican in 1996 and 2000.

Why the surge to Bush? What does it mean for his second-term plans and Republicans who would like to succeed him? Are these four counties — each next to a county that switched to the GOP four years earlier — evidence of spreading Republican dominance? [...]

4. 'The move-in people'

Republicans benefited from demographic shifts. These included an influx of 20,000 Hispanics to Osceola County since 2000 and migration of white-collar health and insurance industry workers to Boone County, home of the University of Missouri's flagship campus. In both cases, the newcomers have helped make onetime Democratic strongholds competitive. Schnarre calls them "the move-in people."

The Osceola surge is mostly Puerto Rican. Local political observers say those arriving directly from Puerto Rico, as opposed to New York, were in play — but only Republicans went after them.

For four years they went on Hispanic radio shows, held Hispanic recruitment nights, invited Hispanics to hear Republican speakers, and served them Hispanic food. Democrats were hampered by a late start and a hierarchy dominated by old-line Anglos.

Who will tell Tancredo...

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 1, 2005 7:12 PM

Same thing is happening in the republican stronghold of DuPage County, IL.

It's going blue.

Former city-slickers.

Posted by: Sandy P at February 1, 2005 9:10 PM