Sunday, December 07, 2008

The new political landscape: Good, Bad and Ugly

Third in a series of reflections on the 2008 election
This post is just some stuff from around the country I find interesting.

The Good

>Democrats picked up a seat in the U.S. House today as ballot counting was completed in the very last undecided race. Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy beat Republican Steve Stivers in Ohio's 15th District. Counting had been held up since last month by a court challenge. Democrats will control the House next year by a margin of 257-178.

> In Hawai'i, Republicans lost 2 seats in the state Senate and one in the state House. Democrats now control the House 45-6 and the Senate 23-2. This means that all of Hawai'i's Republican state legislators can now ride to the Capitol together in a Honda Pilot.

> The 2009 New Hampshire state Senate will be America's first legislative body in which a majority are women.

> Democrats are cheering the defeat of one of our own today. Congressman William Jefferson of Louisiana was handed a stunning defeat yesterday in a special election by a virtually unknown Republican. Jefferson is awaiting a federal trial on 16 charges of corruption, and is infamous for a FBI search of his home which turned up $90,000 in cash hidden in his freezer. We're lucky to be rid of Jefferson, and winning this seat back in 2010 will not be a problem.

> A Texas-size battle is heating up as Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is threatening to resign from the Senate and take on Governor Rick Perry in the Republican primary for the Gubernatorial race in the Lone Star State in 2010. Perry would be tasked with appointing a replacement Senator who would immediately forced into a special election. It would be fun to watch these two GOP titans tear each other apart. As for the special election however, I wouldn't give Democrats a snowball's change in El Paso of winning.

The Bad
It was no surprise last week when incumbent Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss defeated Democrat Jim Martin in a runoff election in Georgia. Chambliss, who received five deferments to avoid military service during the Vietnam era, is well-known for the television ads he ran during the 2002 Senate race in which he defeated incumbent Max Cleland. The ads paired images of Cleland, a triple amputee and decorated Vietnam veteran with Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

The state of Georgia has developed a knack for electing a lot of America's most despicable politicians to high office. You may remember, for example, former Senator Zell Miller's crazy tirade attacking John Kerry at the Democratic Convention in 2004. Or Governor Sonny Perdue, whose principal campaign promise was to give Georgians the opportunity to restore the Confederate battle flag to the Georgia state flag. (As it turned out, Perdue was lying. Once in office, he endorsed a new state flag not based on the battle flag). Last, and least, we have Congressman Paul Broun, who recently accomplished the neat rhetorical trick of simultaneously calling Barack Obama a Marxist AND comparing him to Hitler.

The Ugly

My nominee for Most Interesting Post-election Analysis goes to Mark Schone of In an article entitled The GOP's Southern problem, Schone talks about the voting patterns of white folks in the South.

It’s no secret that white southerners vote Republican because they’re socially conservative. But as Schone demonstrates, this conservatism is deeply rooted in an us-versus-them mentality that motivates native white southerners in places with large black populations to automatically vote the opposite way that blacks vote. The statistical correlation is uncanny. Mississippi and Alabama have the highest percentage of black voters in the country, and virtually all of the white population there is native born. In these two states, whites voted about 90% Republican in this year’s Presidential election. In South Carolina, which is a little less black and has some white immigration, whites voted 74% Republican. In Virginia, which has a much smaller black vote and a lot of immigration, white voter support for Obama was close to the national average of 43%.

Apparently if black southerners support a political party that favors cracking eggs at the small end, white southerners will automatically support the party that favors cracking them at the large end, similar to the warring kingdoms in Gulliver’s Travels.

1 comment:

BuddhaBlog said...

Want to see a graphic of what Joe's talking about in "the ugly"? Go to this NYT link and click "voting shifts". You'll see a county-by-county graphic showing the shift toward "blue" or "red" in this presidential cycle.

Almost universally, the entire country shifted Democratic except the "Appalachian corridor":