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September 24, 2005

Know Thine Enemy

Posted by Nicholas Beaudrot of Electoral Math

The New Republic has an absolutely riveting account [registration and/or subscription required?] of this year's College Republican National Convention. For the first time in ages, there was a vigorous contest for the chairmanship, a 2-year, $75,000 a year salaried position (in contrast, the chair of the College Democrats is unpaid). Franklin Foer details the convention fight for the nomination, which a sort of X-treme retail politics you won't find anywhere else.

This article should be a wake-up call to anyone who thinks Democrats do enough youth outreach (while 2004 was an improvement over 2000, white voters under thirty still went for Bush by a 54-46 margin), put to rest any notion that Republicans don't have problems with infighting and pettiness, and remind everyone that winning elections has to come first.

I don't say this often, but read the whole thing. And if the article is subscription only, order the single issue online, or shell out for a subscription. Here's a sample:

Such controversy is the stuff of the organization's rich folklore. Typically, these confabs pull in a cast of characters that extends beyond a bunch of hormonally charged undergrads. Behind the scenes, in the campaign war rooms, small armies of veteran Republican operatives and congressional staffers toil. That's because there's much more at stake in the elections than a swish post-college gig. After campaign finance reform, the College Republicans reinvented themselves as a big-time 527--a group legally allowed to spend an infinite amount of its own money on campaigns--with a budget of over $17 million. They have a massive network of operatives to send into the field to bolster candidates, and they have patronage to spread among friends and through direct-mail firms. In other words, it's well worth tearing a Shermanesque path to the sea to control College Republicans, no matter the carnage--and no matter the expense. Michael Davidson said he spent an estimated $200,000--raised off high-rollers who normally sign checks to senators and presidential wannabes--trying to claim the grand prize.

But the significance of the crnc goes beyond that. The Committee is the place where Republican strategists learn their craft and acquire their knack for making their Democratic opponents look like disorganized children. Many of the biggest-brand Republican operatives--from Karl Rove and Lee Atwater, to Charlie Black and Roger Stone, to Jack Abramoff, Ralph Reed, and Grover Norquist--got their starts this way. Walking through the halls of the convention, it is easy to see the genesis of tactics deployed in the Florida recount and by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Republicans learn how to fight hard against Democrats by practicing on one another first. "There are no rules in a knife fight," Norquist instructed the young conventioneers in a speech. And, while Norquist described a knife fight, the Gourley-Davidson rumble transpired around him.

September 24, 2005 in Republicans | Permalink

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Comments

I'm surprised by that stat that white voters under 30 went for Bush 54-46. In their post-election article, Judis and Texiera say that Kerry won male voters under 30 by 51-47, up from 41-51 in 2000, his biggest demographic gain. And he would have done better among young women. The LA Times exit poll also has Kerry winning 18-29s overall 55-43. Would that be possible if he'd lost young males 46-55, especially given the close gender gap in the election?

I'm not disputing`your numbers, but why is there the descrepency? What does running cross-tabs tell that using the exit polls doesn't?

That Foer article was fun, btw. Talk about a microcosm of the difference between the parties. They're evil and effective and we're... well, not very evil and...well...

Posted by: tlaura | Sep 24, 2005 4:03:08 PM

Sigh. In the last sentence, para 1, should say "young white males 46-55"

Posted by: tlaura | Sep 24, 2005 4:05:39 PM

My favorite was the apparent lack of shame at referencing the Swift Boaters. I mean, they couldn't be dumb enough to believe anything they read on "CNR for the Truth" could they?

Carl

Posted by: Carl | Sep 24, 2005 5:02:30 PM

tlaura: u-30 voters are much more cosmopolitan than o-thirty voters They're 50% more diverse than the 30-44 year old voters, and twice as diverse as the boomers. They're 14.5% African American and 12.8% Hispanic. Since African Americans vote D approximately 9% of the time, while young hispanics voted D 65% of the time, that makes it possible for Kerry to win the u-30 vote, even the mail u-30 vote, while still losing the white u-30 vote by a substantial margin.

I looked at further breakdown by gender a few months ago, and I think Bush won white men 58-42 while losing white women 49-50.

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | Sep 24, 2005 8:35:29 PM

Gah, that should be "African American voters vote D approximately 90% of the time"

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | Sep 24, 2005 10:07:28 PM

Nick -- thanks. I should have thought more before I posted the question, that the percentages of minorities would be higher among youth. You're right: the numbers add up. I had just never thought before that young whites were so solidly R; a conceptual thing I guess. Really interesting stuff, so thanks.

Posted by: tlaura | Sep 25, 2005 2:50:54 AM

I'm pretty sure the executive director of the college dems is paid. She isn't elected though (although she was VP last year). Afaik the President isn't paid, though he probably gets travel stipends.

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