Saturday, November 15, 2003

Swing Voters: RIP?

There was a short blurb on CNN'swebsite a few days ago about the off-year elections, and the further polarization of voters.

The results of last week's off-year elections gave both parties something to cheer about. Republicans accelerated their conquest of the nation's governorships, particularly in the South, with victories by Representative Ernie Fletcher in Kentucky and Haley Barbour in Mississippi.

The Democrats gained control of the New Jersey legislature and saw John Street win re-election as mayor of Philadelphia. Together, the results sketched in sharp relief the emerging political landscape.

The country remains closely divided between the two parties, with partisanship more pronounced, and the South, in particular, becoming hostile terrain for Democrats.

"This is a very different political climate than it was even a year ago," says Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, which released a study showing the country more polarized than it has been since 1994, when angry voters put the Republicans in control of Congress.

This hardening of attitudes also helps explain why the swing voter, so sought after during the 1990s, is getting less attention. The name of the game for both parties is getting their core voters to the polls.
Bolding mine. Liberal bloggers (especially the Dean set) have been discussing this for a while, and it's important for Democrats to avoid "fighting the last war". Considering that "Democrats=traitors" memo, it looks like the Republicans are well aware of what next year is going to look like, and are already preparing. With Dean a more likely candidate than ever, it seems inevitable that the Dems are going to move in the same direction.

On the one hand, it's refreshing to see that the cult of nonsensical "bipartisanship" that was hampering Democrats (and American democracy) for ages is finally ending. On the other hand, I worry about just how far this will go. That "death to Dems" fantasy may not be one forever. Just ask Timothy McVeigh.

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