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August 10, 2006

The Bill Bradley Plus Coalition

by Nicholas Beaudrot of Electoral Math

In 2000, fomer Sen. Bill Bradley (D-NJ) gave Al Gore something of a scare with his 47-51 near-win in the New Hampshire primary. But seasoned political observers understood that Bradley would have a hard time competing in South Carolina, Wisconsin, and so forth. Why? Exit polls showed that Bradley could only muster a majority among liberals, voters with college degrees, and households earning more than $100,000 a year. That wasn't even enough to win a low turnout primary, even in a state with lots of affluent, socially-liberal Democrats. As the Democratic primaries moved to areas with more working class and culturally moderate/conservative voters, Bradley's fortunes would just get worse.

Which brings us to Ned Lamont.

Based on the exit polls, Lamont's victory represents an incremental expansion of Bill Bradley's coalition. While Bradley was only able to earn the votes of 45% of voters earning less than $50K/year, Lamont managed to pick up 48%. In the middle of the spectrum, Lamont's 53% majority outpaced Bradley by four percent. Both candidates earned the same marks from households earning $100,000 or more (the exit poll shows Bradley with 49% of the vote, so it's off by a hair), so improvements among working class and middle class voters represent the margin of victory. The educational profile tells the same story. Lamont actually fared five points worse than Bradley among high school dropouts, but earned a majority of those with "some college" education—a two-year degree, or perhaps a year or two at a four year school.

So, yes, Matt, Tom Edsall is a bit off the mark here. Lamont's victory depended just as much on fighting to a draw among those earning six figures as it did on the small advantage he had with "the elite".

This "Bill Bradley Plus" coalition that pushed Lamont to victory is essentially the coalition laid out in The Emerging Democratic Majority—labor, minorities, white liberals, and upper-middle class professionals. Over the past three or four decades, workers in sectors like nursing, engineering, and financial services have grown in number and become more and more Democratic. Essentially, these professionals will replace farmers and the shrinking labor base as the third leg of the Democratic Coalition. Tuesday was perhaps the first time they were large enough in number to impact an election (Tim Kaine's victory in Virginia might have done the trick as well).

Now, before we get to excited over the prospects of this coalition, keep in mind that it's only strong enough to win a Democratic primary in Connecticut against an incumbent with lots of baggage. And if more working class constituents are displaced, it's not clear to me that bread-and-butter economic issues will keep their salience within the Party. But maybe—just maybe—Lamont's appeal in the general election will push more former Republican voters into the (D) column.

August 10, 2006 in Energy | Permalink


Given what has just happened in the UK, I wonder if statements like this will hurt Lamont with regular people.

"Lamont criticized Lieberman for supporting President George W. Bush on the war in Iraq and his use of wiretaps in the war on terror.
"We have to hold the president accountable for these illegal wiretaps," Lamont said. "The federal government is being involved in the private lives of citizens in ways that were never intended."

You don't think the terrorists who were just stopped from killing possibly thousands of people, you don't think those terrorist's phone calls were monitored, do you? That would be a violation of their civil rights!

Posted by: Captain Toke | Aug 10, 2006 12:10:16 PM

The point of the quote is, Captain Toke, not that wire's shouldn't be tapped, but that they shouldn't be tapped ILLEGALLY. Without the law, the gov't can do anything, including throwing the ass of Captain Toke in jail and applying torture to it for a little light afternoon enjoyment. But you know, I'm sure you think you can trust the judgement of Dick Cheney, face shooter and George Bush the decider.

Posted by: Cathy | Aug 10, 2006 12:26:32 PM

Nicholas, another thing working in Lamont's favor is that he actually managed to get a majority of African-American voters to his side, which certainly helped put him over the top against Lieberman. Failure to get support from the African-American community is a factor that has led to the defeat of many, many candidates in Democratic presidential primaries typically supported by the "Bill Bradley coalition" (I'm thinking of candidates like Kennedy in '80, Hart in '84, and Tsongas in '92). Unfortunately, the exit poll data for Bradley doesn't give me actual data to back this up, since there was no racial breakdown. However, the fact that Lamont was able to hold together the "Bill Bradley coalition" AND the African-American community at the same time is huge.

Posted by: Constantine | Aug 10, 2006 12:34:33 PM

Cathy, name one innocent person who's rights have been violated by counter terrorism measures.

If you want to talk about legality, I can show you two executive orders, one by Carter and the other by Clinton, executive orders that say the AG and other officials don't need warrants to order electronic surveilence.

Posted by: Captain Toke | Aug 10, 2006 12:37:43 PM

If you want to talk about legality, I can show you two executive orders, one by Carter and the other by Clinton, executive orders that say the AG and other officials don't need warrants to order electronic surveilence.

Which is irrelevant given Youngstown and FISA.

Posted by: Hamilton Lovecraft | Aug 10, 2006 12:45:03 PM

Toke: Maher Arar.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Aug 10, 2006 12:47:24 PM

Neil, you know he doesn't count, because he's swarthy. Toke means, "Name one WHITE person whose rights have been violated."

Incidentally, one could add Jose Padilla to the list, since all we have right now is the Feds' say-so that he isn't innocent, and he was put in jail without a charge or a trial for about 3 years. The judge handling that case is pretty suspicious.

Of course, you can add pretty much everyone who's had their entire telephone history turned over to the Feds.

Toke's servile groveling before authority is pretty typical, though.

Posted by: paperwight | Aug 10, 2006 1:00:14 PM

Fair enough, Constantine. Also Lamont was able to get a majority of labor, which suggests the AFL-CIO turnout program didn't help an awful lot.

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | Aug 10, 2006 1:13:06 PM

Captain Toke,

How would we know if the rights of innocent people were violated? The records are sealed, and the administration didn't bother to get approvals from the FISA court. If everyone they're monitoring is guilty, why not just get the approvals?

Posted by: Magenta | Aug 10, 2006 1:13:38 PM

I really think (and just have just written) that a great deal of Ned's appeal is simple sincerity. Ned's really just mildly left-of-center, but he's avowedly so. Unlike him, many basically liberal candidates, like Lieberman realy is, go out of their way to pretend that they're not liberals, and we're supposed to acknowledge the wink and vote them in alongside hopefully bamboozled moderates.

Policies like Lamont's, however, do have broad appeal with moderates. It just takes a politician who actually believes what he says to make them come out and vote. Tacking right, if it ever really worked, now just seems like yet another ploy.

Posted by: Nick Simmonds | Aug 10, 2006 1:55:36 PM

Ack. Preview, then post, folks. The more you know. . .

Posted by: Nick Simmonds | Aug 10, 2006 2:00:55 PM


Isn't New Hampster an open-primary state? That would make Lamont's win in a closed primary look less like he's pulling in more people from the "Bradley Coalition".

Posted by: verplanck colvin | Aug 10, 2006 3:36:41 PM

lose wieght lose wieght

Posted by: lose wieght | Aug 15, 2006 6:32:13 AM

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