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Posts published in “Day: November 17, 2010”

Other kinds of splits

Be wary when you see news reports about a vote that pits "liberals" against "moderates" (or "conservatives" against "moderates" for that matter). The U.S. House vote for Democratic leader, won by Nancy Pelosi, the outgoing speaker, ought to be evidence of that.

The vote has been widely billed as one pitting the more liberal Pelosi against the more conservative Heath Shuler of North Carolina. Run through the available information about who supported who, and you find some basis for that. But:

Two of the key Democratic votes seeking a delay on the leadership vote, to December 8 - a move viewed as helping Shuler - were Oregon's Peter DeFazio and David Wu, both considered part of the liberal wing. But neither terribly close to Pelosi.

DeFazio's crossways with Pelosi has been clear for some time, and the Astorian reports today "that Wu was one of those voting for Rep. Heath Shuler of North Carolina, who mounted a campaign against her."

Ideology can define one agenda in politics. But it is only one.

Carrying the trend below

Not to keep stomping on this, over and over, but the recent set of posts at interstates (h/t to Betsy Russell on this) rally cries out for mention.

This space has talked about the diminished Democratic turnout in Idaho toward the top of the ticket, with the unstated point that much the same seems to have happened downticket as well. Well, it did. Interstices took a look at results on the legislative district level in the Boise area, and voter turnout there:

Every district in Boise had fewer total votes in 2010 than in 2006. More remarkable is across Boise the decrease in total votes from 2006 to 2010 came mostly from the Democratic column. Republican votes were largely unchanged, with the exception of the increase in the District 18 Senate race that changed parties.

Cumulatively the Republican Senate candidates amassed a relatively unimpressive 870 more votes in 2010 than 2006. That’s only an average increase of 175 votes per district, but enough to flip to seats in District 18.

The real story is the total vote for Democratic candidates dropped by more than 8,300, an average loss of 1,650 Democratic votes per district. So much for the “wave election.” The asymmetry in numbers shows this was not a case of swing voters going the other way, or a significant increase in voter turnout like happened in 1994 when compared to 1990.

What happened appears to best be described as a systemic failure on the part of the Democratic Party to put on a campaign at the top of the ticket that would help drive voter turnout at the lower races such as for State Legislature.

Among other things; but the point seems well made.