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Old Democrats, New Democrats, Newer Democrats

As many observers have remarked, the debate among Democrats about the reasons for their defeat on November 2 has been remarkably civil as these things go. In particular, the vituperative exchanges between so-called Old and New Democrats have been refreshingly absent.

There's a good reason for this. That debate is increasingly irrelevant to where the Democratic party needs to go and increasingly foreign to a new breed of Democrats--"Newer Democrats"--who represent the party's future.

Here's an excerpt from an article I wrote before the election, "Old Democrats and the Shock of the New" (forthcoming in a Hoover Institution volume, Varieties of Progressivism in America, edited by Peter Berkowitz), that lays out the ways in which the Democratic party has evolved away from both Old and New Democrats. The basic argument holds up pretty well, I think, in the aftermath of the 2004 election.

...[M]ost Democrats were understandably tepid about signing up on either side of the [populist-centrist] dispute [after the 2000 election]. Both sides seemed more interested in rehearsing old debates and defending old positions than in grappling with the election that had just happened and building on the Clinton synthesis in all its complicated glory. There was simply no appetite among most Democrats for rerunning the faction disputes of the 1980s; Democrats knew their party had changed dramatically in the 1990s, and an argument that was detached from that reality seemed uninteresting at best and downright destructive at worst. Moreover, the Republican Party under Bush, with an ascendant hard Right and its willingness to say or do anything to win, seemed a formidable enemy that called for a fresh Democratic approach, not just old wine in new bottles. This has lead to the emergence of what I call “Newer Democrats.”

...Newer Democrats saw ...the DLC and the liberals/populists, as continuing to provide important insights and useful tools for building the party. And both groups were clearly important parts of the party that were not going to go away. But neither New Democrats nor populists, in this emerging view, seemed to know how to beat Bush and the no-holds-barred conservative Right that was taking over the Republican Party. Both groups seemed stuck in the past, even though the urgent task was to transform the actually existing Democratic Party, with its updated vision of progressivism and new coalition, into an instrument that could beat the Bush Republicans.

You can read the whole article by following the link above. And you may want to check out the whole volume, Varieties of Progressivism in America, because it also contains excellent essays by David Cole, Thomas Edsall, Franklin Foer, William Galston and Jeffrey Issac. In addtion, Hoover has already published a useful companion volume, Varieties of Conservatismm in America, also edited by Berkowitz, with essays by Randy Barnett, Joseph Bottum, Richard Epstein, Jacob Heilbrunn, Mark Henrie and Tod Lindberg, that is well worth a look.

Comments

I'm one of those who thinks that John Kerry did something right and we have quite a bit to build on going forward.

While it is true that moderates have been in the leadership the past few years, the truth is that the old liberal powers still hold sway and they are the problem. For any candidate to pass muster in the primaries, they have to go through the Planned Parenthood and NARAL wringer, among others.

I think we are on the verge of a winning coalition. Moderate Catholics are the key. They populate the midwest and southwest in large numbers. They are naturally left of center, and mostly pro-choice. If the Democratic Party moderates its abortion message to reflect where most of the country is anyway, we can be guaranteed 55-60% of the Catholic vote in the midwestern and southwestern states (maybe not AZ-I don't know).

Unlike all other midwest states where Kerry did quite well with the Catholic vote, he lost it bad in OH, by 10%. If he had performed among Catholics like he did elsewhere in the midwest, if he had gotten 51-53% of the Catholic vote, OH would have been a tie on election night and we would be talking recounts right now. The Catholics against Kerry movement was very well organized in OH and it showed.

I just don't think Democrats can go into every election with a single issue, abortion, putting us in a 6-10% hole everytime. We need to make it a non issue. Confirm the party's commitment to choice, because of compassion and not militant feminism, and here's the radical manuever, proclaim the Democratic Party's commitment to reducing abortions (make it a stated goal, don't just things like "we'd like it to be "rare").

This way, we take the single issue abortion thing out of the equation, the party's platform is intact and more reflective of the general public, and we have an expanded base that the Republicans need and are counting on to maintain their majority.

A compelling piece on where the Dems are and how they got there. But I have to quibble about your commentary on MoveOn. MoveOn never, to my knowledge, had MeetUps. The use of MeetUps was pioneered by the Dean campaign, after supporters, on their own, established Dean Meetups using the online Meetup site. Dean's campaign latched onto the new technology and adopted it as the primary way for supporters to hook up around the country and plan local campaign activities.

MoveOn used house parties, organized via their own website, to create local gatherings.

I would love to read the whole article but the pdf file is apparently damaged.

Actually, from what I understand, Edward supporters were the first to use meetups. FYI.

Here's an example from the NEW ZEALAND media of the kind of coverage and analysis lacking in the US:
http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/
The analysis of the US exit polls:
47 State Exit Poll Analysis Confirms Swing Anomaly

By Jonathan Simon
Introduction by Scoop Co-Editor Alastair Thompson

" In the 12 critical states (CO,FL,MI,MN,NE,NV,NH,NM,OH,PA,WI,IA) the average discrepancy was a 2.5% red shift (= total movement of 5.0%), nearly twice that in the safe states. "
- Jonathan Simon
[Most recent data analysis]:
Critical States (12)

DATA DESCRIPTION
Exit Poll Data Bush% then Kerry%, # of respondents, then time of poll ET, and "Red" Shift%
Note: Red Shift = /2 tab= tabulated vote, ep=exit poll
The number is positive with net movement toward Bush, negative (blue shift) with net movement toward Kerry. I'll take Florida (early) as an example:

Exit Poll % : B=49.8% K=49.7%
Tab (99% precincts) B=52% K=47%
Red Shift: /2 = (2.2% + 2.7%)/2 = +2.5%

I'm aware that I've played fast and loose with significant figures; a more refined analysis would get at least one more sig fig out of the tabulated.


Critical States (12)
FINDING: 12 (Critical) State Average Red Shift +2.5%

State
BUSH
KERRY
#Resp
Time
Red Shift

Colorado
49.9
48.1
2515
12:24AM
2.60%

Florida
49.8
49.7
2846
12:21
2.5

*Florida
51.4
47.6
2862
1:01
0.6

Michigan
46.5
51.5
2452
12:21
1

Minnesota
44.5
53.5
2178
12:23
3

Nebraska
62.5
36
785
12:22
4.3

Nevada
47.9
49.2
2116
12:23
2.2

New Hamp.
44.1
54.9
1849
12:24
4.9

New Mex.
47.5
50.1
1951
12:24
1.9

Ohio
47.9
52.1
1963
7:32PM
3.1

*Ohio
50.9
48.6
2020
1:41AM
0.3

Penn
45.4
54.1
1930
12:21
3.4

Wisconsin
48.8
49.2
2223
12:21
(-)0.3

Iowa
48.4
49.7
2502
12:23
2


(Nebraska included because "critical" because of ES&S dominance and history)

Important Note: Because of rolling updates, some states may have been relatively pure by the time this data was collected. at 12:20-12:25, while others may already have been slightly corrupted. My guess is that most of these states were still OK at these times. *NOTE SCOOP IS SEEKING A COPY OF THE ORIGINAL DATA FROM 4PM AND 8PM ON ELECTION NIGHT – WATCH THIS SPACE*


*******************

Non-Critical States (35)
Again data order is Exit Poll Data, Bush% then Kerry%, # of respondents, then time of poll ET, and "Red" Shift%

FINDING: 35 (NonCritical) State Average Red Shift +1.4


State
BUSH
KERRY
#Resp
Time
Red Shift

Alabama
58.1
40.5
730
12:17AM
4.2

Alaska
57.8
38.8
910
01:00AM
4

Arizona
52.8
46.7
1859
12:19
2.5

Arkansas
52.9
46.1
1402
12:22
1.1

Calif
46.6
54.6
1919
12:23
(-)1.5

CT
40.9
57.7
872
12:22
3.4

(CT
44.4
54.7
872
12:53)
0.2

DC
8.2
89.8
795
12:22
0.3

Delaware
40.7
57.3
770
12:22
4.8

Georgia
56.6
42.9
1536
12:22
2.2

Hawaii
46.7
53.3
499
12:22
(-)1.2

Idaho
65.7
32.9
559
12:22
2.6

Illinois
42.4
56.6
1392
12:23
1.6

Indiana
58.4
40.6
926
12:22
1.6

Kansas
64.5
34.1
654
12:22
(-)2.7

Kentucky
58.4
40.2
1034
12:22
0.9

Louisiana
54.7
43.9
1669
12:21
2.1

Maine
44.3
53.8
1968
12:22
0.8

Maryland
42.3
56.2
1000
12:22
0.5

Mass
32.9
65.2
889
12:22
3.7

Miss
56.5
43
798
12:22
3.3

Missouri
52
47
2158
12:21
1.5

Montana
58
37.5
640
12:22
(-)0.3

ND
64.4
32.6
649
12:22
(-)2.4

OK
65
34.6
1539
12:23
0.8

Oregon
47.9
50.3
1064
12:22
(-)1.3

RI
34.9
62.7
809
12:22
3.4

SC
53.4
45.1
1735
12:24
4.4

SD
61
36.5
1495
12:24
(-)1.8

Tenn
58
40.6
1774
12:23
(-)1.7

Texas
62.2
36.3
1671
12:22
(-)2.0

Utah
68.1
29.1
798
12:22
2.5

Vermont
33.3
63.7
685
12:22
5.2

Wash
44
54.1
2123
12:38
1.6

WV
54
44.5
1722
12:24
1.8

Wyoming
65.5
30.9
684
12:22
2.7

The following state data was obtained too late and highly contaminated with actual tabulation results:


State
BUSH
KERRY
#Resp
Time
Red Shift

NJ
46.2
52.8
1520
12:50
(-)0.2

NY
40.9
58.2
1452
12:52
(-)0.4

NC
56.5
42.7
2167
12:48
(-)0.4

Virginia
54.1
45.4
1431
12:56
(-)0.4

Important Points To Note: The average sample size for the critical states is 2109, for the noncritical states 1192, roughly half the size. All else being equal, higher sample size correlates with smaller margin of error, greater accuracy. And yet: the average Red Shift in the noncritical states is 1.4%, but in the critical states it is 2.5%.

Why? Hard evidence must be found to account for this egregious statistical pattern and to prove the actual fraud. This preliminary analysis is fairly crude, and there are probably other, more telling ways to slice and dice the data. Also, note that there were three exit poll "sweeps" which led to updates around 4 pm, 8 pm, 12 midnight, following which the "exit polls" were really contaminated by tabulated data and of no use at all as a check mechanism.

I caught mostly the third sweep here (c. 12:20 am); my guess is the second sweep would show even more dramatic discrepancies. While the first sweep has come under skeptical attack for having a too great female (pro-Kerry) weighting (the figure I heard was 58%/42% female), it is at least plausible to me that morning/daytime voters would be disproportionately female because of work schedules, so it may well be just one of the specious rationalizations behind a very determined coverup (we just don't know).

—Jonathan Simon
Thursday, 11 November 2004

ENDS


THIS IS THE KIND OF ANALYSIS THAT MAINSTREAM DEMOCRATS ARE AVOIDING -- IN TURN IT MAKES LEFT INSISTENT DEMOCRATS less "civil" in our objections to the approach taken.
The point is that we need Democrats who won't just "get with the program" as that program is lousy and rightwing, but will oppose it. I do understand the need to put forth an alternative nationally that a majority can readily support, but NOT the reasonableness of truckling under to justifying the lying (a general problem).

Ditto on the complaint about the pdf file. It must be corrupted or the link is broken.

Ono is on the mark. When it comes to the question of abortion, Democratic candidates start out in an electoral hole they have to dig themselves out of.

One thing we need to appreciate a little better is that medical technology is helping to make that hole deeper. As the medical community and equipment technologists continue to improve on the suvivability rates of very premature infants, the public at large comes to understand that, yes, abortion can be considered as murder.

We may have come to the point where a very sharp line needs to be drawn between early term abortion and the intermediate stage. (Unless someone can show me facts to the contrary, I will continue to believe that partial birth abortions of late term fetuses are only being performed in the most extreme cases of threat to the mother.) In other words, we may now be at a point since Roe v. Wade (circa 1972?) where legal prohibitions to abortion are more defendible now that science has brought us to a point where the fetus that used to have no chance outside the womb has one now.


Politically, that means backing legislation on a state by state basis that would prohibit abortion past the term that knowlegable physicians say that survivability is assured. It wouldn't be long before such a law is challenged and the issue is back into the courts. Does any one doubt that the Supreme Court wouln't uphold such laws?

And does anyone doubt that conservatives would continue to press for a total ban on all abortions? Problem is that then they would be in a deep electoral hole as most of the body politic would be satisfied that early term abortions do not equate with murder as mid-term abortions did in an age of medical/techno progress.

I have no doubt that Howard Dean, the radical centrist he is, falls into your paradigm of "newer Democrats", not just the camapaign. However, the old Centrist-Populist(read, DLC-Liberal) polarization worked well for the DLC-wing of the Democratic Party to brand Dean as too liberal, or, "unelectable", as you might say. Arching back to the past liberal failures of McGovern, Mondale, & Dukakis was too easy a devisive reach to be ignored by those looking to exploit it for a win, or just to stop the insurgent Dean that threatend their status quo minority status. Instead, we got the two "electable" ones on the ticket, and failed miserably.

I think you are correct that Kerry brought with him a terrific Clinton-like balance of the old dynamic. He ran a great campaign, for 2000. But not for 2004. Merely attributing his fund-raising success as being with the newer Democrats isn't enough. ABB was enough for those. And notice how little faith he had, accepting the paltry $72M cap, instead of realizing he could have had another $200M, and forced Bush into opting out, and doing fundraising in Chicago, NY, LA... down the stretch. No, Kerry, even with the money, didn't bridge to the newer Democrats.

Here's to water under the bridge in hoping that Democrats that are not aligned with the "newer Democrats" can stop attempting to brand us as liberal losers. We are going to elect Howard Dean as the DNC Chair on Feb 12th. We'll find the way forward.

Ono,

Edwards supporters were not the "first ones" to use meetup. William Finkel of Meetup started all the Presidential groups for Meetup at about the same time. It's true, there were a few early meetup supporters for Edwards online in early January 2003, but Finkel could gain no traction inside the Edwards campaign to adopt the strategy. Instead, we started it on the Dean Nation blog, then on MyDD, the call to action went out for signups, moving from about 10 to over 200 total in the day (blowing past Edwards, lol). Trippi loved the idea, it met our needs for a decentralized netbased organizing tool, and the campaign adopted it officially by the end of the month. There's your Meetup history.

The post-election Democratic Party is caught in the paralysis of analysis...and seems entirely too mired in the past to (yet) learn the real lessons of the 2004 election. Democrats need to get real about the issue of abortion. Middle-class church-going voters have drawn the line in the sand. I know these people....I know how they feel and think about this election.

I am a liberal evangelical baby boomer who campaigned and voted for Kerry/Edwards. Just wrote a blog posting on this very topic...."A Plea to Democrats - Abortion Is the New Prohibition." The Democratic Party needs to take its head out of the sand and to take a radically fresh, new approach to abortion. Until this occurs, all the rest is idle chitchat.

And until that occurs, Republicans will occupy the White House and control both Houses of Congress. Without a doubt.

I've read the pdf file and I have to say respectfully that I've seen Teixeira do better work.

The biggest problem with the piece is that T ignores ongoing demographic changes in the American electorate, in particular the growing numbers of Latino voters, particularly in the southwest: NM, AZ, NV were important swing states which, if won by Kerry, would have been decisive. The American electorate is changing, and simply re-slicing the current electorate is a short-sighted strategy. T even praises the New Democrat Network but fails to note that Latinos were a major focus of the NDN's work during this campaign.

Second, T argues that Newer Democrats should build a "new progressivism encapsulated by the Clinton policy synthesis" but is very vague about what that synthesis was, in particular. Clinton undermined unionism (tho he supported union-supported policies), undermined business regulation, and could have gone much farther in safeguarding Social Security. None of those are promising positions for future Democratic candidates. T needs to be more specific about the policy-agenda of his "synthesis."

Third, T criticizes DLC types for being vague about exactly who their voters would be. T is guilty of the same sin when expressing optimism about the electoral prospects of "Newer Democrats," writing vaguely about "the new workforce of postindustrial America and the fast-growing metropolitan areas where they live and work." Like San Diego? Dallas? Atlanta? Hardly prime Dem hunting grounds. Or seeking the votes of "a sufficient base of white working-class voters." Which ones? Where? What age cohorts? With what issues?

Now is not the time for vague optimism. We need hard-eyed realism if we are to succeed at combining progressive policy and voting majorities. T knows a lot about both. I want him to work harder, think harder and write more carefully next time.