The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Dems in terminal decline?

The theory I'm considering is that 1932-68 was a humungous deat cat bounce. Since the Civil War, the GOP had become firmly identified (at the Federal level) with normalcy.

The Dems, on the other hand, were the party of crisis - in time of war (hot or Cold) or depression, even Americans needed some Dunkirk spirit, a sprinkling of socialism, a management specialised in turnaround.

The GOP, absent normalcy, had nothing to offer except Democrat Lite policies (notably Dewey in 1948 - and Eisenhower) or populist lurches like isolationism or Asia First.

With FDR and Truman, the Dems built a national machine that thrived on national emergency and winning at the polls. (Plus a whole lot of corruption, of course.) Lyndon Johnson in 1964 [1] provided its last hurrah.

Both parties had their Southern Strategies [2]: the Dems needed to embrace the Negro to consolidate their Northern constituencies; the GOP, having no prior engagements, were happy to go round picking up the Dems' Southern leavings.

Who'd have thought in 1964 that the GOP would have turned into the more cohesive election-winning machine? And to have won the 2004 presidential election on the basis of a superior GOTV operation.

Naturally, the closeness of the 2004 presidential election gives one pause for thought; just a far-from-impossible 60,000 Ohioans needed to have switched, and the White House would have been jiving to a fado beat come January 20.

Did Iraq work a Depression/WW2 for the GOP this time round? Voters knowing that they had fucked up in 2000, but too proud to admit it so soon - and using the flag-waving bollocks (we can't change president in time of war) as an excuse.

No doubt, we'll be getting the first serious analyses in fairly short order.

  1. LBJ was, of course, the last Dem president to succeed another Dem president in office. Since 1900, six Republican handovers, two Democratic; the rest: McKinley/TR; TR/Taft; Harding/Coolidge; Coolidge/Hoover; FDR/Truman; Nixon/Ford; Reagan/Bush I.

  2. My suspicion is that the first Southern Strategy dated back to before the Civil War; certainly, the numbers dictated the need to welcome back the erring sisters into the Dem fold after Reconstruction.

    Judging by the electoral vote maps here, the first GOP candidate to start the de-solidification of the South was Warren Harding - who won TN; John Davis re-solidified the Confederacy in 1924 (the Union slave states went with Coolidge); but the Happy Warrior acted like a case of syrup of figs, losing TX, FL, NC, VA, TN from the Confederacy alone. Pure bunce for Hoover, of course - and I'm not clear how much gratitude was shown to those states (as opposed to the hack placemen of the lily white state Republican parties who were GOP for just one reason).

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