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Posts tagged as “Democrats”

Where the numbers went

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Not so many weeks ago, more than a few Idaho Democrats and democratic sympathizers, observing the developing contested primary for governor within their party, were heard to wonder: How many Democrats will be left to vote in it?

The logic went like this: The race for governor likely would be settled in the Republican primary, and among Democrats there was a clear preference among the major GOP candidates: Lieutenant Governor Brad Little was considered much the most acceptable, and Representative Raul Labrador the worst option. (The third major candidate, Tommy Ahlquist, got less visceral reactions.) So quite a few Idaho Democrats, at least anecdotally, said they would cross over and vote for Little. Presumably that would leave, among other things, a smaller Democratic contingent to decide their own party’s race between second-time candidate A.J. Balukoff and former legislator Paulette Jordan.

Not a few Republicans also thought the scenario might play out that way.

So how did it work out?

The shift of Democratic voters across the aisle to the Republican side is hard to measure. We can’t know for sure how many there were. The number of voters (that is, ballots cast) in the Republican contest for governor was up compared to 2014 by about 25 percent; if you factor in population growth and the greater interest in a race with three major candidates, that’s not a tremendous difference. Were there enough Democratic crossovers to give Little his 9,000-or-so vote win over Labrador? Best guess is that those voters didn’t account for all of it, maybe only half or less. The presence of Ahlquist in the race may have been a larger factor.

Bear in mind that Little received 72,518 votes, which is less than his close ally and current Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter received in 2014 (79,779 votes). His vote could be accounted for if just most of the Otter voters stuck with him (as they most logically would have), allowing for some falloff.

One reason for thinking so is in looking at the vote in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Only about a third as many people voted on the Democratic side as on the Republican, but four years ago the difference was six to one, not three to one. Turnout in the Democratic primary increased by about 150 percent, a massive increase especially when bearing in mind the much higher-visibility Republican campaign.

Across the board, Democratic primary votes increased far more from 2014 than did the Republican (though theirs grew too). Scan down through the other major office races and though the state legislative primaries, and the same holds true. Of course, most people once stuck with one or the other party’s ballot will continue to vote for a number of offices

But the Democratic ballot increase really is remarkable. The number of votes cast in the Democratic primary for governor is the largest ever cast in that party for that office. What was about 25,000 Democratic primary voters (for governor) in 2014 grew by about 40,000 this year.

Was it a coincidence that the recently-completed petitions for the Medicaid initiative activated similar numbers of voters? Might that have helped generate some of the participation?

On Tuesday, voters in Georgia held their primary election, and Democrats there chose (in a hot contest) a nominee for governor who among other things has based the strategy of her campaign not on the goal of reaching out to Republican and centrist voters, but of activating what she maintains is a large corps of non-voters who (she figures) would vote mostly Democratic if they participate.

How many of them actually are out there, or whether they can with certainty be brought into the voting base, no one yet knows for sure.

But the numbers in the week-old Idaho primary election suggest that significant numbers of them actually are out there. Maybe not enough to win general elections. But significant nonetheless.
 

Dark horse Democrat

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One of my editors called last week with a question:

“If Hillary implodes who is your long-shot hunch to carry the Democratic banner into the fall?” This one is much easier than last week’s speculation on who might emerge from a brokered Republican National Convention.

First, though, is it possible that one of Mrs. Clinton’s currently declared (or about to declare) rivals could catch fire? The answer is no.

Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley was not all that well-liked by Marylanders. As a former Baltimore mayor he also was one of the architects of the Baltimore Police Department’s “when in doubt arrest ‘em” policy even for the slightest of infractions, especially if one lived on the wrong side of the tracks. Hard to see him catching fire.

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Then there’s the mecurial former Virginia Senator Jim Webb, who announced the formation of an exploratory committee and then promptly dropped from view. As a former decorated Vietnam veteran Marine, the best selling author of Fields of Fire and Secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration, Webb was expected by an eagerly hopeful media to tie Mrs. Clinton in knots if in a debate with her over defense policy.

While considered by some pundits to be a new, younger looking face for the electorate to contrast with .Mrs. Clinton, who, along with her husband Bill, aka “Slick Willie,” seems to have been around forever, Webb is in fact 69 years old as is Hillary. Thus, he will have a hard time making the case he represents a generational change.

Then there is the just announced former Rhode Island governor and senator, Lincoln Chaffee, who styles himself as an “internationalist” and is the son of long-time respected moderate Republican Senator John Chaffee. The younger Chaffee created a bit of a buzz in his announcement by saying he would work to have America truly adopt the metric system and join the rest of the world.

This falls under the rubric “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Most Americans are content with the system of measurements we have and there’s no feeling this is a problem in search of a solution. A platform item that advocates change when there is no crying need for the change hardly appears to be a winning formula.

So, if Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy implodes, and trust me on this one, there’s a national media salivating at the almost certain prospect that she’ll stumble or say something that flies in the face of conventional wisdom which will ignite the “blood in a pool of sharks” phenomenon. In other words, the media will generate a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Is there a dark horse waiting in the wings? The more liberal element of the Party is advancing Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. She does have a captivating, up-by-the-bootstraps, divorced single Mom story and is unquestionably brilliant. On the other hand, she has a caustic style and does not exactly convey a warm, fuzzy feeling. She’s hard to like and most people want their president to be likeable (remember “I like Ike!).

That leaves only one other possibility for someone to pick up the pieces of a shattered Clinton candidacy who can quickly unite the Democratic Party with a plausible, possibly winning candidacy: Vice President Joe Biden.

No one watching this past Saturday the funeral of his 46-year-old son, Beau, a former two-term Delaware Attorney General, can fail not to have been deeply moved by the dignity and grace with which he met this latest tragedy in his star-crossed life. Nor can one have failed to have seen the incredible love of family manifesting itself.

Joe Biden is a survivor who has taken the worst of the slings and arrows of misfortune one can be handed---the loss of his first wife and daughter in an accident before he had even turned 30 and take the seat he had just won in the U.S. Senate. Sure, he is the quintessential, optimistic, back-slapping politician subject to an occasional verbal gaffe.

However, he’s the real deal and a rarety among office holders and seekers today. He’s truly the authentic person you see, an honest, compassionate human being who has always seen public service as a noble calling. President Obama’s fine eulogy underscored the loyalty that exists between the families and the two of them.

If Hillary stumbles and implodes, he will step up to the challenge with the most human of the competing narratives and will be a formidable candidate. If by chance you missed this past weekend’s coverage, find a copy of the best presidential politics book ever written, called What It Takes, and reread Richard Ben Cramer’s profile of Joe Biden. You’ll see why he will be a much better candidate than Mrs. Clinton.

A demarcation line

Huffington Post has out a list of the members of the congressional Blue Dog - conservative - Democrats, who have their own organization and evidently a concrete membership list.

Although a fifth of the House Democrats overall are Blue Dogs, just one of the 11 Northwest House Democrats is a member. No surprise: Walt Minnick of Idaho's 1st district.

Definition

At the end of a Horse's Ass post on the failure of a piece of consumer protection legislation in the Washington legislature - it may be dominated by Democrats, who are presumed to be in favor of such measures, but this outcome is hardly unusual there - blogger Jon DeVore came up with a priceless definition of Democrats:

". . . a circular firing squad of cats who won’t be herded towards a gun safety class where free tuna is being served."