Thursday, November 30, 2006

In 2006, Young Voters Turned to Democrats

In many ways, the campaign strategy for Republicans over the last six years has been designed to suppress the vote but it's a strategy that in the long run can't work unless the Republicans reform themselves. In the meantime, young people seem to be turning to the Democrats. Sidney Blumenthal in Salon has the story and more:
... Exit polls [for the 2006 midterm elections] showed that the Democrats won the popular vote by 52 to 46 percent. Given that Bush won the popular vote by 3 points in 2004, this was a reversal of not 6 but 9 points. An analysis of the actual popular vote for the Senate, however, reveals an even greater Democratic margin of 55 to 42.4 percent. That number also coincidentally corresponds to the margin by which Democrats won women, the greatest margin since 1988. Yet Democrats won independents by an even bigger margin, 18 points, the greatest spread in House races in 25 years. The profile of independents on issue after issue now mostly resembles the profile of Democrats.


While voters under 30 were the most favorable age group in 2004 for Kerry, casting 54 percent of their votes for him, Democratic House candidates in 2006 received 60 percent of their votes, compared with 38 percent for Republicans. Nationally, partisan identification breaks 38 percent Democratic to 35 percent Republican, but among those under age 30 the percentages are 43 to 31 in favor of Democrats. This pattern runs as strongly in the West as in the East, the Midwest and the Pacific states, a clear indication that the Western states are heading out of the Republican camp -- out of alliance with the deep South's Republican states and into coalition with the broad majority. In Wyoming and Arizona, where Republicans won elections for the House and Senate, the Democrats would have won by 16 and 15 points, respectively, if the elections had been conducted only among under-30s. In Montana, where Democrat Jon Tester won by 1 percentage point, fewer than 3,000 votes, his margin among under-30s, who were 17 percent of the electorate, was 12 points.

It's increasingly clear that Bush and his right wing allies represent the politics of the far past. It's going to be up to the Democrats to demonstrate that they are the party of the future. In the spirit of bipartisanship (and good politics, for that matter), the Democrats should hold out the olive branch to Bush from time to time, though he already shows signs that he will do nothing more than swat the branch aside (so far, Bush's talk of bipartisanship has been a charade). Otherwise, the real job of the Democrats is to lay out their agenda and to make that agenda part of the 2008 election whenever Bush decides to use his veto.

The Democrats should compromise when feasible but speak loudly and clearly about the failure of Bush to respect the bipartisan compromises of the last seventy-five years. Those compromises are law, not opinions that a president can dismiss. Iraq will require special handling. Technically, Congress can advise on foreign policy (and control the purse strings) but they cannot micromanage the president. The real key is oversight: we need hearings and accountability to investigate the biggest foreign policy fiasco in American history. Finally, the five issues Democrats need to keep working on and talking about are jobs, health care, general government accountability, an energy policy and the environment. These issues are the future, these are the issues people want to see progress on.

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