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God, Guns and Gays: Testing the Conventional Wisdom About the 2004 Election

As the conventional wisdom settles in about the 2004 election, it is, as always, subject to challenge in many important ways.

Alan Abramowitz does some important spadework on this conventional wisdom in his slide show, "God, Guns and Gays: Testing the Conventional Wisdom About the 2004 Election". I think you'll enjoy it and find it a source of much useful (and some surprising) data.

Comments

So, the economy was a push, the morals issue was a wash, Kerry should have offered a clear opposing plan for Iraq, and for fighting terrorism. And he should never have switched his message from Iraq and foreign policy. Kerry kicked Bush's butt in the first debate about foreign policy he had Bush rocked, but failed to knock him out. Joe Biden was right, hammer away on Iraq and offer a clear plan. The future doesn't look too bright in the congress either.

My understanding is that the Gay Marriage issue resonated with Dr. James Dobson whose radio show reaches a reputed 7,000,000 listeners. By "closing the deal" with Dobson and earning his endorsement, Bush probably picked up a fair number of his devotees who may or may not care much about gay marriage. My take is that the Republican Gay Marriage strategy was to influence those who can influence others. Then frighten the masses with wolves. It might be interesting to try to find out what portion of the population sought advice/were given advice from someone they trust and how this advice affected their vote.

Do not be distracted by continued verbal self-flgulation. The election was stolen and unless we ALL focus on the false result of this election, we are going to remin fractured and out of power. Evangelists are passionate but they are not stupid. They did not give Bush this election. Voter fraud did.

alan abramovitz's show claims that the the GOP have an effective lock on the senate and the house for the forseeable future, although he seems more optimistic about the dems regaining the presidency in 2008.

what puzzles me why the GOP has such a great advantage in the senate house, if "cultural issues" are so paramount. one would think that the senate and house candidates --- from both parties --- would more closely reflect the people that reside in their districts, which would effectively "level the playing field" with regard to cultural issues. why, then, aren't there more democratic senators and representatives from the blue states? the only answer i have is that even for house and senate races, democratic candidates end up taking the views of the national party on issues such as gay rights and abortion, which puts them at odds with most of their consituents, even if they more closely "connect" with their voters on other, less crucial issues.

but this brings to mind another question: why do democratic candidates from red states persist in reflecting the the national party on cultural/wedge issues? why have we not seen the emergence of red state politicians (from either party) that would seek to more closely align themselves with red state voters by wedding cultural conservatism (opposition to gay rights, abortion) with economic liberalism (higher minimum wage, national health insurance)?

the fact that we've not seen "fusion politicians" such as these makes me wonder if there's a flaw in thomas franks' analysis in "what's the matter with kansas?" maybe, contrary to what he says, the midwest picks the GOP as much for its economic program as its cultural program, although i'm hopelessly mystified as to why. or maybe there's some coupling between the GOP's cultural and economic programs that we blue staters simply can't grasp.

Dobson is a guru for the "family" devotees within the evangelics, but his role is no different in the Bush campaign than Limbaugh's: He's there to excite and motivate the base, and he does.

The people who listen to Dobson and Limbaugh and watch Fox News, are the same people. At least there is large overlap. Find someone who likes Dobson but doesn't like Limbaugh.

Whatever his message, Kerry did a poor job of communicating it. Bush was just terrible in the campaign, and only because Kerry was hopelessly worse did Bush prevail.

I am a former conservative Republican red-stater turned progressive. The reason we don't see fusion politicians in the red states is because of the effectiveness of the Inside the beltway conservative movement. I am sadly beginning to realize there is no equivalent progressive movement.

The conservative movement goes out of its way to get all of its candidates to tow the line on conservative issues. So you might have social conservative mid-westerners who is tempermentally opposed to free trade, as are his constituents but because of the working of the conservative network of think tanks, lobbyists, donors, and activists this guy will eventually change his tune on free trade. Maybe it's because he is convinced by the rationales offered in a Heritage Backgrounder, maybe it's because right-wing activists show how he can still win while be free trade, or maybe a wealthy conservative donor had a chat with him about his political future. Either way the conservative movement takes care of itself, its agenda, and its members. Progressive don't. Progressives lose.

Jay Bradfield, you're exactly right.

They also beat us with discipline we lack. We're always too busy making sure everyone gets to speak their mind. We wouldn't want anyone to feel disenfranchised.

Organizing the left for Democratic theme issues is next to impossible, because complaining about THEIR issue always transcends winning the presidency or congress. As someone once said, it's like moving frogs in a wheel barrow.

Conservatives love order, so they love a good, firm chain of command, where orders come down and are followed. Meanwhile, liberals are still arguing about which T-shirt makes the appropriate statement with this outfit.

Liberals are too busy crying about whatever it is that makes them unhappy at the moment to work on finding the middle. Not content to be minority status in all branches of federal and state government, they seek to turn the course further left.

Exit poll and other pre-election polling have a limited usefulness this time because they didn't seem to correlate very well with the election itself. To use this data to try to understand why Kerry lost is probably not wise until we have a better understanding of why these polls didn't match the outcome.

My personal theory is that there was an unusually large contingent of Bush backers who just weren't willing to talk to pollsters-- who they probably consider part of the "leftist media conspiracy". In the same way that African-American candidates have often gotten fewer votes than polls indicated they would, I think voters who were anti-gay specifically or anti-tolerance more generally showed up to vote but not to talk to strangers. If that was the case-- and it's basically unprovable, probably-- the exit polls would have to be adjusted.

There are moderate Democrats in the red states but they lose due to straight ticket voting - just look at the Senate elections this year, where moderate Dems got clobbered everywhere but Colorado.

Can someone explain why in slide #37 there are only 37% Gore voters from 2000 but 43% Bush voters?

Am I to understand that tons more people who voted for Gore in 2000 failed to come out than who voted for Bush? Why would that be?