Do Democrats need Carville

Do Democrats need the South? | : The party is doing fine, winning the Northeast, the West and the Midwest. So why is James Carville still pushing a Southern strategy?
because Carville is smart like Rove is smart, ie, not really. Some success, but has gone to his head, and Carville (and Rove) think they are a political genius. Wrong.

Tom Schaller has more:

Five of the six Senate seats the Democrats picked up were outside the South. Five of the six new Democratic governors are from outside the South. Of the 30 or so House seats that Democrats wrested from Republicans, only five were Southern -- and two of those were gifts. Both Republican candidates were defending seats that had been held by disgraced pariahs –- Mark Foley and Tom DeLay –- and both were forced by the quirks of electoral law to run as write-ins. They still almost won.

The most telling races, however, were those in Tennessee and Georgia. In Tennessee, the Democrats fielded a nearly perfect Senate candidate, a smart, seasoned, well-financed congressman with strong name identification. Harold Ford Jr. ran hard to the right, talking incessantly about how powerful “my Jesus” was, filming a campaign ad in a church, boasting that he was pro-life, denouncing the New Jersey same-sex marriage ruling, and wearing a camouflage hunting cap on Election Day. He lost. In Georgia, in a year when Democrats enjoyed an advantage of more than 7 percent in the national vote for all House races, the Democrats in Georgia's 8th and 12th districts were only a few hundred votes away from becoming the only incumbents in their party to lose their jobs on Election Day.

Why, then, would James Carville respond to the 2006 election by offering Harold Ford a new job teaching Democrats how to win? Ford tried to woo the Southern white voter, and since that's the model Carville and much of the rest of the Democratic Party has pursued doggedly since the 1990s, Carville wants him to replace Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean. But the camo-capped Ford failed in his hunt for NASCAR man, and there's little evidence that the model works anyway. If anything, Election Day 2006 was striking proof that it does not. Perhaps Carville, a man with a vested interest in the Southern strategy, doesn't want to admit that it's a relic of another century, and that the Democrats might be better off without it.

For the first time in 50 years, the party that controls both chambers of Congress is a minority party in the South. And in the last four presidential elections, the Democratic candidate has either garnered 270 electoral votes, the minimum needed to win, or has come within one state of doing so before a single Southern vote was tallied. Outside the old Confederacy, the nation is turning blue, and that portends a new map for a future Democratic majority.

As to why Democrats in general struggle, and how the state and region became so Republican and conservative, there are five answers. First and -- sadly -- foremost, as it may have been in Tennessee, is race. Analyses of the National Election Study data from 2004 show that the attitudes of white Southerners on national defense and even abortion fail to explain their preference for Republican presidential candidates, but attitudes on race do. Anyone who needs proof of the power of racial polarization in the South need only look at the blackest state in the union. Mississippi is 38 percent black, yet has a Republican governor, two Republican senators, and delivered its electoral votes to George Bush without a fuss twice. Southern whites vote as a racial bloc for the GOP. Statistics seem to show that loyalty to the Republican Party is at its highest among voters in Wyoming, Idaho and Utah –- until you start crunching the numbers for white voters only, and realize just how solid and white the GOP's solid South is.

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This page contains a single entry by swanksalot published on November 14, 2006 8:47 AM.

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