The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes
Sunday, November 14, 2004
The Dems as a presidential party
The technical snafu now thankfully rectified, I've duly plunged into the post-match analysis.
For the purposes of the blog, I've treated the American polity as something of a game or puzzle - trying to divine the underlying mechanics by the operations visible to the kibitzer's eye.
There has been no shortage of teachable moments: the effectiveness of the Swifties' counter-factual campaign, for instance, and the limited effect of Bush's stumbling (for want of a better word) performance at the first debate both came as a surprise.
And the election result - will need a deal of teasing out.
To start: it's another tribute to the historical strength of the Republicans as a presidential party: cursory analysis of the list shows that, since the end of Reconstruction with the election of Rutherford Hayes, Democrats have generally needed at least one of the following to win:
Johnson won in 1964 on the back of the Kennedy assassination and the GOP's Goldwater experiment; why Grover Cleveland managed to win  I am too lazy to research right now.
But, from the perspective of at least a couple of generations from 1932 onwards, Republicans were Yesterday's Men  - at least as far as Federal government was concerned: Alf Landon, Wendell Willkie, Thomas Dewey a cavalcade of no-hopers ; Eisenhower was wholly anomalous, Nixon in 1968 triumphing on the back of Dem divisions (the DEWDROPs' cry that year was Dump the Hump!) .
Which makes 48 years in which the Dems were the natural party of government - at least so far as the top job was concerned.
From today's perspective, the FDR-to-LBJ period of Dem domination in presidential races looks like an exception rather than a new rule.
Yet neither party has seen its vote collapse so as to threaten its existence, in the manner of the Canadian Tories under Kim Campbell: even in 1936, Landon managed 37% of the vote.
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