Monday, September 25, 2006 :::
An interesting piece from Ryan Sager on the real demographic trend that could up-end the GOP's electoral applecart:
Although California's 55 electoral votes have proved impotent to thwart the rise of a big-government-loving, big-religion-thumping GOP, the California diaspora into some of our nation's least populous states is looking like it just might do the trick.
The GOP has tilted too far toward its Southern wing, preoccupied as it is with religion, tradition and morality, and away from its Western wing, which is more concerned with freedom, independence and privacy.
The result is a party that has all but abandoned socially liberal but fiscally conservative voters, leaving it increasingly vulnerable in states where libertarian-leaning voters are a presence. If you take the 2004 presidential election results in three of the Four Corners states (Colorado, where President Bush won by 5 percentage points; Nevada, where he won by 3; and New Mexico, by 1), a total of fewer than 70,000 votes would have swung 19 electoral votes and the election to John Kerry.
I've seen this shift in the Denver suburbs where I grew up. In the fields where prairie dogs and foxes roamed freely, there are now large homes stacked one on top of the other. And who lives in many of those new homes? Former Californians.
While the changing face of the area hasn't resulted in a change in party control (My folks are still represented in Congress by that beacon of tolerance, Tom Tancredo), the changes elsewhere are truly substantial -- just ask the minority Republicans in the legislature.
In some ways, the swing would only turn the West into what it had been for many decades -- a bastion of Democratic, old-style progressive and populist politics. In others, it would reflect the idea Sager puts forward: That the GOP has become too Southern, and too rigidly moralistic, for voters who tend to like their governments fiscally responsible but not socially intrusive.
Virginia Republicans would do well to look at what's happening in the West.
::: posted by Norman Leahy at 9/25/2006