Monday, November 08, 2010

Cocky Democrats

Much will change before the next general election. But with Nancy Pelosi’s decision to remain as leader of House Democrats, it seems the Obama-Pelosi-Reid team that should have been staggered by their midterm election losses will intact again lead the party in 2012. What’s with that?

Insider Mark Halperin in TIME gives a reason for Pelosi’s return:
In the aftermath of the midterm elections, [many] Democrats . . . believe that the answer to the party's problems isn't to abandon their message and bend to Republican demands but to stand up and fight whenever they feel that the new House majority is acting against the interests of middle-class families and in favor of corporate special interests. Pelosi's supporters maintain . . . she can capably challenge the GOP and protect her party's core principles. She has beaten Republicans twice before, suggesting she can beat them again.
Democrats specifically have no plans to give up on Obamacare, especially when they feel the real election issue was the economy, and are certain the economy will be better in 2012. Democrats determined to keep their historic healthcare reform are pointing to exit polls showing 48% for repealing health care reform, but 31% wanting it expanded and 16% favoring leaving it as is—a total of 47% for a virtually even split against repeal.

There’s a problem with the question, though. Voters weren’t offered what may be the most popular option: amend the law, stripping out the bad parts but keeping the best. Leaving out the choice to amend but not repeal skews the results in the direction Democrats favor, enabling them to proclaim half the country favors Obamacare.

I have wrestled with why Obama is so confident he represents America even as he makes little effort to connect with its white, moderate to conservative majority. Our nation is 68% non-Hispanic white, and only 20% liberal. These percentages explain why Republicans are so confident Obama and the American majority live in two different worlds. The percentages are even more white for those registered to vote, and still higher than that for those voting in midterm, non-presidential elections.

I’m now convinced Obama truly believes he represents a majority of the country, as he manifestly did when he won in 2008. So Obama feels no need to reach beyond his base. He and knowledgeable Democratic politicos understand their base will show up in higher percentages during the 2012 presidential year when Obama is back on the ballot and, as said above, the economy is clicking again.

The Democrats' key to victory isn’t to expand their share of the white moderate-conservative vote, the job everybody talks about. No, their challenge is to get Obama’s base back to the polls. If an equal share of Obama’s base and the Republican base both show up, Obama wins, because his base is larger.

It's larger because Obama’s base consists of minorities, unmarried women, young people, liberal white males, and liberal married white females. As the chart below shows, that base adds up to 64% of the American voting-age population (though this count includes non-citizens). Republicans can have the rest; Obama doesn’t need to woo the remaining 36%.Now you know why Pelosi, Obama, and Reid are so cocky.

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