Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The myth of the paintbrush

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said Tuesday that he thinks his party can retake the Governor's Mansion in Alabama next year. In his speech to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Birmingham, he also promised that his party won't write off the South again as it did in 2004 and won't be "pretending to be Republican-lite."

Dean's speech also revealed the outlines of what seem to be two emerging Democratic campaign tactics for the coming years: 1) Neutralize the GOP's use of abortion, gay marriage, etc., as wedge issues by appealing to people's desire to "keep government out of private lives" and 2) Tout balanced budgets, health care, voting rights, etc., as "moral values."

Whether either tactic works remains to be seen, but Dean's proposed leave-no-district-behind plan has shown early signs of success. Democratic candidate Paul Hackett, an Iraq war veteran and gun rights supporter who continually blasted President Bush's policies, came within 4 percentage points of winning the special election for Ohio's 2nd Congressional District on Tuesday. That outcome seems unimpressive until you learn that registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats more than 3-1 in the district and that Bush got 64 percent of the vote there last year; then it suggests that even a party's safest seats may be up for grabs given the right opponent.

Many political wonks' first instinct is to paint most areas as immutably red or blue, but Hackett's performance implies that that isn't the case. It also indicates that Dean's 50-state strategy is the right one for the Democratic Party.


Blogger Gun-Toting Liberal said...

Good post. I think that part of what's helping blue candidates in red states is also the fact that people are seeing for themselves what happens to their civil liberties under a completely red Government. In other words, the Republicans are shooting themselves in their collective "foot" by just being themselves on the world's stage, as we all knew they would if given the chance to do so.

Maybe I'm just being an optimist, but I believe you'll start seeing a VERY good showing for the Democrats in the red states in the very near future.

2:27 PM  

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