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November 24, 2006

Red Is A Pretty Color

By Neil the Ethical Werewolf

Usually, we don't like maps to look like this. But this is a map of which Senate seats are up for election in 2008, and it suggests that we're going to build on this year's gains.
That's right -- 21 Republican seats and 12 Democratic seats are up for election. Markos has a pretty good rundown of how these races look. Yet another reason to want John Edwards at the top of the ticket in 2008 is that the entire South will be voting for Senate, and we'll want the party to look Dixie-friendly. In North Carolina, popular Democratic Governor Mike Easley will be finishing his last term, and maybe he'll run against Elizabeth Dole. Virginia, Arkansas, and Louisiana are also likely to see competitive races, and retirements could put West Virginia and even Mississippi in play.

In 2010, we'll be attacking 19 Republican seats and defending 15 of our own. Our 6-seat gain this year was especially impressive given that we were defending 18 Democratic seats while attacking only 15 Republican seats. Things looked really bleak to me in mid-November 2004, not just because of Kerry's loss, but because we were facing an unfavorable Senate calendar in 2006 that might have strengthened the hand of the Bush Administration. It's a testament to the guts and skill of the Democratic leadership that we managed to gain six seats even under those conditions. Of course, this sets us up to defend 24 and attack only 9 in 2012, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

November 24, 2006 | Permalink


Whether or not Edwards run, or any Democratic Presidental candidate is from the South, is irrelevant to the Senate races. Or, I should say, prove it. Prove that it matters. I like Edwards. I hope he runs because he is on a short list of candidates who I think have something to say, and a vision for the country, unlike say HRC or Bayh who mostly have ambition. Ambition is good, but not enough. But, this notiont that Edwards would matter when he didn't in 2004 in terms of down ticket, is simply false (again unless of course you got the numbers to back it up).

Posted by: akaison | Nov 24, 2006 8:07:43 PM

Well, it's kind of hard to figure out what to say about 2004, since whatever pro-South influence Edwards exerted was probably cancelled out by the presence of a Massachusetts Yankee at the top of the ticket.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Nov 24, 2006 8:16:06 PM

Yet another reason to want John Edwards at the top of the ticket in 2008 is that the entire South will be voting for Senate, and we'll want the party to look Dixie-friendly.

If Edwards is at the top of the ticket, and we still do poorly in the Land of Cotton, will you let us look elsewhere to build both a sustainable coalition and a bulwark to Dixie? Without guilt, that is?

Posted by: somecallmetim | Nov 24, 2006 8:30:29 PM

Yes, the Republicans have to defend seats in 21 states - but 17 of those are Red states, and 2 of the Republicans in the 4 Blue states have proved to be quite strong at the ballot box in the past (Susan Collins and Gordon Smith).

I'm not suggesting that the Democrats don't have the ability to make gains (Colorado, Minnesota, and New Hampshire all present good possibilities; and depending on who's running or not races could develop in places like New Mexico) - but I don't think this map is nearly as friendly as focusing on that 21-12 ratio would suggest.

Posted by: Armand | Nov 24, 2006 8:30:46 PM

"Without guilt, that is?"

SCMT is my hero. I have lived "Red" all my life, and my worst nightmare is a return to the good old days of the Dixiecrats. "John Edwards isn't like that!"

I don't trust them, any of them. Carter and Clinton were not much, if at all, better than moderate Republicans on economic issues. Wait til the South comes begging for crumbs. Til then, a Western strategy.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Nov 24, 2006 9:18:09 PM

I think a close analysis shows this doesn't look that stellar for us. We have a GOOD shot in MN - the Democratic Party there is strong, and even more important, Norm Coleman looks even more like an empty-shirt opportunist than he did in 2002.

I strongly suspect Louisiana will be rough. A huge number of Democrats have left the State, and those that remain dod not have a lot of good stuff to say about Landreiu. I would argue that those are the two "incumbent" races where I strongly suspect a turn-over. They're also up for their first shot at reconsideration.

Finally, I personally would LOVE to take Maine. I know, I know Collins is popular. But I think we may have a good shot to take her out IF (1) Democrats pick the right person and (2) the Republicans run the wrong candidate for president. That may hurt her bad. So we can hope.

Posted by: MDtoMN | Nov 24, 2006 9:38:06 PM

Oklahoma is actually one of the states that I'm cautiously optimistic about. Governor Brad Henry has a 77% approval rating, and he might challenge Sen. James Inhofe, who has a 46% approval rating. If Henry decides not to run halfway through his term, we could go back to Brad Carson, who did reasonably well in his 2004 loss to Tom Coburn.

My estimate is that we end up with a net gain of 3-4 seats. We lose Louisiana, but we gain maybe CO, NH, and MN. OR is also possible. We have candidates who can win OK, VA, and maybe NC -- it's a question of whether they want to run. I love the idea of Cleland's Revenge in GA, but I don't think it'll pan out. I don't think Kos' optimism in KY and TN is warranted, but if Lamar Alexander stumbles, it's possible that Harold Ford's second run will be successful.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Nov 24, 2006 10:01:16 PM

Wilson, Johnson, Carter, Clinton...all Southern Democratic Presidents are followed by multi-term, even generational, Republican dominance. There is not a mere coincidence, but some kind of causal pattern based on a psychology of betrayal. Disappointment. Whatever. I think this is real, and whoever Edwards is, and whatever his policies, his Presidency would be poison for the Party. Part of what makes Edwards attractive to Yankees and liberals is giving a finger to the South, while looking accomodative. Part of what makes Edwards viable in the South is the psychology of victimization. They like losing in a noble cause.

It ain't Edward's fault, save to the degree he is a Southerner. The problem is about 300 years old, and will never go away.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Nov 24, 2006 10:02:07 PM

Can someone explain to me why we are interested in the votes of some dumbass who factors in the state someone lives in when they are voting for the goddammed President of the United States?

Posted by: Oneiros Dreaming | Nov 24, 2006 10:11:28 PM

The commondream is that the nation has turned to Democrats bercause of their shining path and now the momentum is in their favor to take it all back!!


The realtiy is the base protested the Republicans.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Nov 24, 2006 10:15:18 PM

Oneiros, we care about bob's vote because it counts just as much as yours or mine. Personally, I don't think he's a dumbass -- I just find some of his positions inexplicable.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Nov 24, 2006 10:16:20 PM

Neil, I could be wrong, but I think Oneiros is talking about you, isn't he? Or were you making a joke in not seeing that?

Posted by: somecallmetim | Nov 24, 2006 10:41:41 PM

Actually, Oneiros, I believe, is referring to voters who are so self absorbed that they require that the candidate comes from the South. It's this self absorption that the rest of the country 'needs' the South that gives it too much power in national politics.

The region should have no more, or less weight than say MT or AZ or CO or etc. A very valid point because my issue with this discussion is that Schaller (or whatever his name is) was right that if we continue to dependence on the Southern white evangelical vote, we will never break the cycle, and that politically speaking we have more votes to mine in other parts of the country.

Fixating on the South means the message is limited to the crazies down South. I say this as a black guy who grew up down South, and have watched in horror as the nutcases that populate my corner of the South take their crazy national (as exemplified by our resident crazies like Fred and Toke).

There is a vast number of other people who are ignored, not just on the east and west coast, but in the middle when the South is given so preferencial treatment. This isn't good for national discourse, economic issues, etc, especially when these voters has consistently voted in ways that are against economic issues, and for social conservatism which they never will receive.

Again, I like Edwards, but if he is chosen, it should be because he is a good presidential candidate, not because of regional calculations.

I hope 2008 is about experimentation. One factor, that is ignored in the post 2006 election era is the value that experimentation played in this year. But-for, that experimentation, there would be no Webb, or Tester. Some of the House seat that were won would not have been won. Ford, lost, not only because of race, but because I think he ran a great inside DC campaign, but not one that took any real character building risks. In the mushy middle, these sorts of experiments on the left need to happen.

The Democrats need to stop thinking of these discussions, as Neil, mistakingly does as some simple calculus of insert candidate A with issues B, and we achieve goal X. The truth is the party has to start building in new ways, and thinking of new strategies as it has started to do with Dean, with folks like Webb (who even here people are struggling to understand) and without an over dependence on one region.

Right now, the GOP has boxed itself in a corner with crazies like Fred as their base. I think this is a wonderful chance, if the Democrats take the risks necessary to grow a strong governing majority. Simply look at the states, Neil, that you list as prime pickup opportunities. They are all places in which this new frontier for progressive politics are happening and shaping themselves like the West and mid West, and in other places we haven't yet considered. Don't put a straightjacket on this by using the same language, strategies and tactics that defined previous Democratic wins, or, to use a term from business that I hate, but which is applicable-- think outside of the box.

Posted by: akaison | Nov 24, 2006 11:03:49 PM

If Edwards is at the top of the ticket, and we still do poorly in the Land of Cotton, will you let us look elsewhere to build both a sustainable coalition and a bulwark to Dixie? Without guilt, that is?


I don't trust them, any of them. Carter and Clinton were not much, if at all, better than moderate Republicans on economic issues. Wait til the South comes begging for crumbs. Til then, a Western strategy.


Can someone explain to me why we are interested in the votes of some dumbass who factors in the state someone lives in when they are voting for the goddammed President of the United States?


I'm assuming you guys all hate Howard Dean for wasting all that money on a misguided 50-State Strategy. I get the distinct impression that if Dean was a Southerner pursuing exactly the same course, a large number of netroots types would be strongly critical of it.

To give a less snarky answer, the South is a really tough area for us, no doubt, and obviously it will probably go on being our weakest region.*

The point isn't to try and win it over, necessarily, it's to hold down the GOPs margins and provide some breathing room - as Neil says - to candidates in downballot races. If Bill Bradley, say, had been at the top of the ticket in '96, Max Cleland and Mary Landrieu - and Tim Johnson too, although he's not a Southerner - wouldn't have been elected to the Senate. If Edwards or Clark had been at the top of the ticket in '04, we might be looking at Senators Betty Castor and Erskine Bowles, and David Vitter may have at least been forced into a December runoff in Louisiana.

Some of this depends on factors outside of our control, like who the GOP nominates for president. In '92 and '96, Southerner Clinton was able to tie the GOP's vote in the South in no small part because Daddy Bush and Bob Dole were culturally un-Southern. If the Republicans run Mitt Romney in '08, and we run Edwards, some Southern states may become competitive again.

I don't think a candidate's Southerness should be the sole determinant, (there's no way I'd support someone like John Breaux, even if he was the only Southerner in the race) but it's something that does matter, and if we have a good candidate from the South, it's a factor that should at least be brought into consideration.

I don't particularly care for the South's peculiar group psychology on this stuff. But like it or not, this problem exists and until the region starts shrinking in population, we've got to figure out a way to deal with it. Just saying "fuck you" to an entire region and walking away doesn't solve anything.

*(Or second-weakest. If you split the West into Pacific Coast West and Rocky Mountain West, the Rocky Mountain West was the Bush-Cheney ticket's best region of the country.)

South (AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA)

Bush-Cheney: 54.6%
Gore-Lieberman: 43.2%

Bush-Cheney: 57.3%
Kerry-Edwards: 42.0%

Rocky Mountain West (AZ, CO, ID, MT, NV, NM, UT, WY)

Bush-Cheney: 54.7%
Gore-Lieberman: 39.6%

Bush-Cheney: 59.7%
Kerry-Edwards: 38.8%

One other reason for not writing the South off completely is that it's the fastest growing region of the country in terms of it's percentage of the national presidential vote. Here are the figures:

1960: 17.9% of presidential votes.
1964: 20.2%
1968: 22.9%
1972: 22.6%
1976: 25.3%
1980: 26.7%
1984: 28.0%
1988: 28.1%
1992: 29.1%
1996: 30.0%
2000: 30.6%
2004: 31.9%

The South became the largest source of presidential votes in 1984, and it hasn't relinquished that role since.

Meanwhile, the West (and this is the entire West, including Blue States like Washington, Oregon, California and Hawaii - and Alaska, which is a Pacific West state that votes like a Rocky Mountain West state) has been growing much more slowly than the hype would suggest.

1960: 16.5% of presidential votes
1964: 17.4%
1968: 17.3%
1972: 18.7%
1976: 18.0%
1980: 18.9%
1984: 19.3%
1988: 20.3%
1992: 20.6%
1996: 20.8%
2000: 20.8%
2004: 20.8%

The West has consistently come in 4th place out of four regions of the country for over 40 years, although in fairness, there's a good chance the Northeast could fall into 4th in 2008.

Last fun fact: If the 2004 presidential race had been fought with the regions of the country casting 1960 levels of votes, John Kerry would have won the popular vote by 49.7%-49.3%, although he would have still lost the electoral vote by a bare 268-270 margin.

Posted by: Chris | Nov 25, 2006 12:22:13 AM

I can understand challenging the conventional wisdom of running a Southern Democrat, in hopes it might warm Sothern states up to the Democrats, rather than the Republicans. But the idea that "The South" won't vote for anyone except a Southerner doesen't have a lot of validity. They didn't have much trouble voting for Nixon (CA), they went all the way for Reagan (CA) and Bush 41 (who's as much a Texan as H. Clinton is a New Yorker), they went for Dole (KS) in 96, and I imagine whether it's McCain, or Romney, or Sam Brownback, they'll be voting for them too.

Nor is there much evidence that "The South" dominates the parties considerations. From 1960 onward, we have

60: Kennedy/Johnson(MA/TX) vs Nixon/Lodge(CA/MA)
64: Johnson/Humphrey(TX/MN) vs Goldwater/Miller(AZ/NY)
68: Humphrey/Muskie(MN/ME) vs Nixon/Agnew(CA/MD)
72: McGovern/Shriver(SD/MD) vs Nixon/Agnew(CA/MD)
76: Carter/Mondale(GA/MN) vs Ford/Dole(MI/KS)
80: Carter/Mondale(GA/MN) vs Reagan/Bush(CA/TX)
84: Mondale/Ferrero(MN/NY) vs Reagan/Bush(CA/TX)
88: Dukakis/Bentsen(MA/TX) vs Bush/Quayle(TX/IN)
92: Clinton/Gore(AR/TN) vs Bush/Quayle(TX/IN)
96: Clinton/Gore(AR/TN) vs Dole/Kemp(KS/NY)
00: Gore/Lieberman(TN/CT) vs Bush/Cheney(TX/WY)
04: Kerry/Edwards(MA/NC) vs Bush/Cheney(TX/WY)

Once you factor in the circumstances for how some of these men became President (Kennedy assassination), and that you rarely change ships if you have incumbency, and previous association with the Vice Presidency I.E. (Gore, Mondale, Nixon, Bush), the extent of the party's "pandering" to the South seems to consist of occasionally choosing a southerner as a Vice Presidential candidate.

Which is a fine secondary consideration to have, in hopes of a cross regional, coalitional solidarity. One could argue that their's barely a coalition left in the South to consider, and instead we should be putting guys from the big box mountain west states on the Veep ticket instead. Fine. But in terms of who the party actually chooses to run for President, it's not clear that appeasing "The South" has been a heavy factor. And it's hardly for a lack of Presidential Primary candidates from the region either.

Posted by: DRR | Nov 25, 2006 12:42:14 AM

Wow, Chris, that's one heck of a comment. As you might imagine, I agree quite strongly.

Tim, I was joking around with Oneiros.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Nov 25, 2006 12:42:32 AM

Since people seem to be willing to listen to Howard Dean when he says these things, while tuning out everyone else, I thought I'd continue on this theme for a while.


Presidential Debate, Johnstown, Iowa. January 4, 2004

Question: Governor Dean, you said this week that you plan to become – to begin including more references to God and Jesus through your campaign swings in the South. Some of your critics and columnists immediately seized on this and said it smacked of political opportunism. Which goes to something I hear from Democratic voters time and time again this year: a frustration that the Democratic Party seems to have a difficult time talking about religion and matters of faith.

Dean: You know, I have grown up in the Northeast my entire life. In the Northeast, we do not talk openly about religion. I spent a lot of time in the South and have a lot of friends from the South. In the South, people do integrate religion, openly, easily, into their life, both black Southerners and white Southerners. I understand if I’m going to campaign from the – for the presidency of the United States, I have to be comfortable in the milieu that other Americans are comfortable, not just from my own region, for anywhere else. I think any columnist who questions my belief is over the line. But I do believe that it is important for the President of the United States to be comfortable everywhere, and I plan to learn how to do that.


ACLU Fundraiser, April 20, 2005

[He's talking about more than just Southern whites in this excerpt, although Southerners are a big part of it.]

Dean: These are people who are terrified at what’s coming through the television at their kids. These are people who work two jobs, and they can’t get home after school, they’re single moms, and they’re very worried about what their kids are doing in junior high school and high school when they come home after school. These are folks who live in a county where the sheriff made a big bust of a methamphetamine lab two towns over, and they know that’s coming to their school soon. These are people who actually believe, in some cases, that the National Education Association has a homosexual agenda to teach their children how to be gay if they go to the public school system. [Laughter.]

And that’s why we lose, because we laugh. You know what the Democrats’ response to that is? “Don’t be ridiculous. That’s a ridiculous idea. How foolish can you get?”

You know what George Bush’s best campaign technique is? He goes into these folks between the Alleghenies and the Rockies, and below the Mason-Dixon Line, and says, “You know, those elite people, those elitists, bi-coastal intellectuals, they don’t respect you, they look down on you. I’m one of you. Now let’s go kick their butts.” And it works because we talk to them as if we do look down on them. We laugh, we say, “Well, we have a program to fix that: early childhood education, universal health care for kids, after-school programs.” You know what they hear? They hear, “Oh, we’ll raise your kids for you if you can’t do it. No problem.”

This is not about gay marriage and abortion, and it’s not even really about moral values. It’s about fear. They are terrified economically. They have already essentially lost control of their economic lives. Now they’re concerned about losing the only thing that matters to any of us more than that, and that’s losing their kids. They’re afraid that they can’t bring up their kids in this complicated, difficult world, and they lash out, as so many people do in times of stress, and they lash out at who the president directs them to – which I think was one of the most shameful things about this party. This president, who himself is not a bigot, knowingly put gay people up there for them to lash out at.

We need to talk differently to reach out to these people. You know what our problem is? We think that government is all about policy and voting from here [points to head], and 75 percent of Americans make policy and vote from here [points to chest]. And until we start doing it from here, we’re not gonna win. You know what Bill Clinton would have said? You know what Bill Clinton would have said? We all would have laughed. He would have said, “I feel your pain.” And you know why Bill Clinton won, and he would have won a third and fourth term if the Constitution hadn’t been changed after FDR? Because he did feel their pain. We need to acknowledge these folks’ fear.

You know what we don’t need to do? We don’t need to change anything we’re doing, we don’t need to change what we believe in, we don’t need to give up our commitment to civil rights for every single American, we don’t need to give up our belief that a woman has a right to make up her own mind about her health care. We don’t have to change any of these things. But we do have to communicate to people who are afraid that we’re with them, in the way that FDR did and the way that Bill Clinton did. We have to learn how to do that, and it’s not so easy, because what we want to do is come out with a program. “Here’s our four-point plan to fix this.” That’s not what they’re looking for. What they’re looking for is an understanding that we know how hard it is for them to do the one thing they’re really terrified of, and that’s raising kids and raising a family under difficult circumstances. So, we’ve got a lot of work to do.


Obviously, Dean's version of this is a bit simplified, and regional and cultural attitudes in the South and Rocky Mountain West make it difficult for us to win even if we do these things. But this does seem like a good formula for holding down the margins of the GOP's victory in some conservative areas while possibly winning back states like Missouri, West Virginia, Iowa, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, and maybe Florida, Arizona, Colorado and even Virginia at the presidential level.

Posted by: Chris | Nov 25, 2006 12:52:29 AM

funny- I thought races were won by the electoral college, not by popular vote, but I guess I must be wrong.

Posted by: akaison | Nov 25, 2006 2:02:40 AM


No one here (well, maybe Fred) is against Dean's 50-state strategy. What you seem to not realize is that Dean's strategy is about working to build the Democratic party in all areas of the country, not just the South.

Those of us from other parts of the country are just a little tired of seeing millions of dollars of limited Demcoratic resources getting sent down the same hole, election after election. We're tired of being told that we need to "respect" the south's culture of white victimization, that we need to accept as our definition of a good American those who are from the only part of the country to betray the rest and initiate a bloody war.

Dean's strategy is well-supported around here, and Edwards is also quite popular. So you can check the thin-skinned southern sensitivity toward not being everyone's 1st priority at the door.

As for historical electoral performance, until 2006 no US political party successfully defended every congressional seat and governorship up for election. The Democrats will control the House and Senate because of Congressional gains in areas of the country outside the south, even though southern Democratic candidates were by no means neglected.

There's two ways to fall victim to the mistakes of the past. One is the cliche of not knowing history. The other is a slavish devotion to recreating the exact same set of circumstances every 2 years, over and over again. Until this year, that is what the Democratic party was doing. And it would have happened again, if not for the extraordinary pressure applied to our party leaders to spread the money and support around to candidates all over the country.

So yeah, let's fight for the south. God knows it needs help. But the south cannot be the 1st priority any longer. That's really all anyone around here is saying.

Posted by: Stephen | Nov 25, 2006 2:04:42 AM

It's funny how these debates go -- I think my suggestion of helping us win Southern Senate seats with Edwards in a South-heavy Senate calendar is something that Stephen, for example, would be fine with. But after a few steps of the Great South Debate, nobody really remembers what precise policy was being discussed at first. (I think Tim's early comment did a lot to muddy the waters in this case.) I often feel that the Tom Schaller comment threads at TAPPED go the same way.

The South will contain 10 of the 33 Senate seats for 2008, and probably a quarter to a third of the competitive races. I want it to be given the attention that any region with that number of Senate races deserves, and no more.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Nov 25, 2006 2:33:41 AM


Boy, is my face red (no pun intended). Something was nagging at me about the 2004 numbers. I went back and checked and found that I'd neglected to add Nevada into the Kerry-Edwards vote totals for the Rocky Mountains. The revised numbers:

Rocky Mountain West
Bush-Cheney: 56.7%
Kerry-Edwards: 41.9%

All the other figures I used still hold up though, after going through them a second time. And we're still talking an almost identical level of support between the South and the Rocky Mountain West in '04.

Mea culpa, though.

Posted by: Chris | Nov 25, 2006 3:00:28 AM

"but I don't think this map is nearly as friendly as focusing on that 21-12 ratio would suggest."

It's too early to say one way or another the country will he heading, but for the purposes of spending money, it makes our job a lot easier. In other words, they have more seats to defend, and that will likely force them to spend more money.

"My estimate is that we end up with a net gain of 3-4 seats. We lose Louisiana, but we gain maybe CO, NH, and MN. OR is also possible. We have candidates who can win OK, VA, and maybe NC -- it's a question of whether they want to run. I love the idea of Cleland's Revenge in GA, but I don't think it'll pan out. I don't think Kos' optimism in KY and TN is warranted, but if Lamar Alexander stumbles, it's possible that Harold Ford's second run will be successful."

What about the guy who ran against Bunning in 2004? I believe his name was Daniel Morgidano or something close to it. I know he only did so well because of the whole "Weekend at Bernies"-style election it regressed into, but still, wouldn't he have fairly high name recognition because of that? And if the map is favorable enough so that we are competitive in NC, why would we lose LA?

I'd personally love to see us take a Senate seat in Texas. This might seem nonsensical, but I think there might be something to the idea that if the people voted for a Democratic senator, they'd be more open to voting for a Democratic presidential candidate. And the minute we put Texas into play, the Republicans are screwed.

Posted by: Brian | Nov 25, 2006 3:04:39 AM

Brian, we have a good shot in NC because of Easley. We may have trouble in LA because Landrieu wasn't great at Katrina. (Though her numbers have recovered somewhat.)

I gave money to Mongiardo in 2004. He was a good guy and an okay candidate. But really he only had a chance because of Bunning's erratic behavior. Mitch McConnell isn't going to go Bunning on us.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Nov 25, 2006 3:17:38 AM

Ditto, on what Stephen said. This is about who gets to be belle of the ball, and it's the role that the South is used to playing. No matter how much one says- it's about equal weight to other regions- the South-first people always make the same South-first arguments. The Anti-South-first people such as me, we are making the no it's all of the country argument. I like the ju jitsu that the South first argument often makes by pretending it is representative of Dean's strategy rather than a distortion of it.

Actually, Neil, what turns the debate sour is the notion that we 'need" a Southerner on the Presidential ticket to win down ticket. How exactly is a Southern running on a ticket going to matter unless it is not involved in tailoring message to placate Southern white evangelical voters? Do you think they are stupid if you don't do that?

Your argument is a derivative of the argument that there is no doubt that the necessary electoral votes can only be found by placating the white Southern evangelical male vote- which is the core of the discussion here. You do flip the electoral college race for Prez to local and state races, but the concern is what's behind it other than the same South-first notion that we've heard before?

Dean's arguments are about the low hanging fruits everywhere and, more importantly, long term strategic party building, but that doesn't mean we can take what is a long term project of reclaiming the South, and turn it into short term electoral wins for the President. The more likely fruit may, and that's the chief point here, may, be through experimentation w/ messaging, policy, candidate choice, etc coming from other sections of the country like the West. To me, this is less about resources because I don't honestly think that less money will be going to low hang fruit down South in individual races.

It's about looking at electability as being more than whether a candidate has a Southern accent. Experimentation to actually- win in places where we may have a better shoot to win electoral college votes. Who would have predicted from your analysis, or that of Chris wins like MT or MO or OH?

Stephen correctly points out the real issue: whether the Democratic Party 'needs' the South in order obtain a majority versus including the South as part of a majority. As Kos correctly put it, the difference between what you are saying, and what we are saying is the difference between need and want. You think we need the South. We need that Southern accent to put a good face on our beliefs. Why don't we need a Westerner on the ticket? How many Westerners appear in the Presidentiatl tickets of Democrats to test whether Chris's number show anything other than history- and a bleak history at that? Afterall, this isn't a debate about greater liberalism as the NE thinks of it, or California. This is a debate about what type of moderation.

We think we want to be a national party so, of course, Southern races are important. BUT, we shouldn't be dependent on them to obtain a majority. We certainly shouldn't be dependent on them for presidential races which are a different beast altogether.

We can expand a majority without the South, and if we get the races down South, then gravy.

Even as Kos made the very cogent argument that we want the South as part of the the 50 state strategy, but we shouldn't need it, people like Chris, who you defend, argue that we need the South.

Did we need the deep South this time to take over Senate(even VA is outside of your argument because I doubt anyone would question whether it was despite the Southern portions of VA, and because NoVa that Webb won).

Did we, as you and others are so fond of arguing, need to run on a Democratic version of the Southern strategy? Ford was God, guns and gays. He lost. Maybe next time we need to run a white evangelical- would that be better?

Where you get in trouble is you don't make the distinction between need and want in your commentary about how we need a Southerner as our Presidential nominee because we want to win Senatoral races. You don't even explain why or what types of candidates we should be running. The tent should be big when it comes to Democrats, but when it comes to Southern white cultural conservatism that brings us such wonder thinks like Katrina, I think it shouldn't be that big. If you can win, in other words, with core principles intact, gravy, and if not, then you aren't winning. You are simply prolonging your misery.

Beyond this, you make a somewhat dubious claim that one, Presidential races, down south are linked down ticket to our chances with Senatoral races. I don't buy that either.

Posted by: akaison | Nov 25, 2006 3:41:04 AM

The South will contain 10 of the 33 Senate seats for 2008, and probably a quarter to a third of the competitive races. I want it to be given the attention that any region with that number of Senate races deserves, and no more.

"A quarter to a third" strikes me as about the size of the South as measured by either land mass or population (I'm eyeballing). If that's all you're asking, it sounds like we need not treat southern-ness as some other, extra good. Fine with me. All I'm asking is that we treat southern-ness as a characteristic like anything else: if it helps the party to have a lot of it, great, and if helps the party to run against it, great; the important thing is to win in a way that serves our values and our coalition.

I'm really not trying to muddy the waters. But despite your indication that you just want the South to be treated like every other region, if often sounds (even in this post) as if you're engaged in special pleading. That's what I (and others, it seems) object to. That you can't see why people would be upset at a demand for special focus on the south, or would react negatively to the constancy of it by Southern partisans, strikes me as bewildering. And, FWIW, when Ezra writes of Southern partisans getting upset at him for not reacting negatively to Schaller's southern thesis, I'm not sure (a)I'm the only one who sees value in looking elsewhere, or (b)that it's my response (or that of any non-southern partisan) to Southern focus that wants explanation.

Posted by: somecallmetim | Nov 25, 2006 9:48:50 AM

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