Friday, October 31, 2008

True blue states

After a political discussion with a friend in California (oh, fine, Anne Marie), I realized California and Illinois have something in common: their recent electoral history. They both gave Ronald Reagan strong majorities in 1980 and 1984. They both barely went for Vice President George H.W. Bush in his 1988 run for president. By 1992, both states were leaning “blue,” voting strongly for Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996. The next two presidential elections weren’t any different, and that isn’t expected to change this year. So it’s been 20 years--a generation of Democratic victories in two states once considered swing states and major electoral prizes for a presidential candidate.

What happened?

If the Republican Party can figure that out, it might have a chance at recapturing Congress and rebranding itself instead of entering the next decade as the embarrassment it is now. If McCain wins on Tuesday, I don’t think the GOP will care about its underlying problems. That would be a missed opportunity.

We all suffer when there’s no territorial competition. The GOP conceding the Northeast Corridor and the Midwest (except for Indiana) hurts that party and us. The Democrats conceding the South hurts that party and us. I would add the West as well (Mississippi River to California’s eastern border), but the Democrats are now making a play for that region. So good for them.

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