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The Tally Ho

Monday, November 15, 2004

The Ten Americas, Beyond 2004

Steve first brought this Robert David Sullivan character to my attention about a year ago, I believe. He has a new analysis out about the 2004 elections on a regional basis. You may have seen this DailyKOS diary, which is interesting, although the comments section is annoying. The whole Globe article deserves a close read, because it suggests that much of the conventional wisdom about 2004 has been wrong. The first reaction of many Democrats has been to decry the lingering influence of the old Confederacy in establishing a racist solid South for the Republicans. But a regional analysis shows this isn't true. The South has always been divided between lowlanders and "hillbillies;" and while Appalachia, which we have mistakenly contested, has become the country's most conservative region, the piedmont, which Sullivan calls the "Southern Lowlands," has been trending Democratic. Yes - the very people I was misguidedly badmouthing last week. Atlanta suburbs? Savannah? Sullivan groups them in with Northern Virginia as modernizing, high-tech areas ripe for Democratic takeover.

The other important regional news: "Big River." A lot of people mocked it at the time, but Al Gore's riverboat tour down the Mississippi probably won him the popular vote. If you look at the county map (Kerry is RED here) you will notice lots of red counties along the river. There were more in 2000, when Gore won the region (Bush won Big River this time with 50.1% of the vote). A lot of these counties are not in major media markets and are hours from the nearest big airport. The riverboat tour was good politics, and should be repeated.

A third point: Bush's popular vote margin came from getting votes in "Blue States." This is where 9/11 helped him win a "mandate:" He won some NJ suburbs and Staten Island, and did better on Long Island than he did four years ago. These areas were home to many dead firefighters and cops, especially SI and Brooklyn. I think the 9/11 gains were a one-time anomaly, but they illustrate a point: central cities aren't enough. This is not an urban nation anymore. Democrats can win if they hold the central cities and make gains in the suburbs. As long as Republicans can hold the suburbs and make gains in the "nice" neighborhoods in the cities, we are screwed, landslide screwed. It's amazing how much that election map looks like America from space. The bright spots are Democratic, the outer darkness Republican. We are the thing the darkness fears. To win, like Buffy, we need to invade Hell.


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