Mon. Mar 24, 2008
We Outnumber You, and We Have A Candidate
Though the Pew Research Center headlines the article, Fewer Voters Identify as Republicans, this said something different to me:
In 5,566 interviews with registered voters conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press during the first two months of 2008, 36% identify themselves as Democrats, and just 27% as Republicans.
Let’s see, if we add 36% and 27%, we’re still one heck of a lot under 100%, aren’t we? In fact, it would appear the 37% who refuse to claim either party label … outnumber either party. This must particularly vex the hardcores in each party who have particularly vexed me with their rejection and dismissal of any efforts to reach out to those “wishy washy moderates and independents who can’t make up their minds.”
And though I’m well aware Obama is both a Democrat and a Liberal, I think you could make the argument that Traditional Republicans have their candidate, McCain, Traditional Democrats have their candidate, Clinton, and then you’ve got this other guy who is not traditional at all, in presentation or substance. It almost makes him a third party candidate, in that, like at least 37% of America, he rejects our Traditional Partisan Politics.
The Pew Center also notes: “Of the 37% who claim no party identification, 15% lean Democratic, 10% lean Republican, and 12% have no leaning either way.” Which, in theory, means if pushed to vote today, it’s 51% Democrat, 37% Republican, and 12% “Uncommitted” (who did surprisingly well in Michigan also). Split the undecideds 50-50, and it’s 57-43. That’s a whole lot different than four years ago.
So remember that when you hear the argument that it’s all about Florida and/or Ohio, or that states that “went red” last election are sure to do so this time as well, so winning a primary there means nothing. There’s a sense that the electoral map we saw in 2000 and 2004 is in some way permanent. The fact is that it’s as temporal as it was in 1980 after Carter mopped the map in ’76, or even in 1992, after Bush mopped up in ’88. The pendulum swung then, and it’s a-swingin’ now, in a big way.
The candidate with a 50 state strategy is playing to win. The candidate with the 17 state strategy is, in terms of the old military maxim, “preparing to re-fight the last war.” And if you think you can win solely by appealing to your base (either 36% or 27% of the voting public), you’re going to have to find some New Math.
Because in base ten, that equals “you lose.”