Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The Eroding Left Coalition: Lighter Blues and Deeper Reds

The dynamic duo of political science, James Ceaser and Daniel DiSalvo, are at it again, putting the election in proper perspective for us. Taking issue with the conventional wisdom that little has changed from 2000 to 2004, that there is a stalemated culture war, and that Karl Rove's ability to mobilize the Republican base by itself explains the GOP victory, the authors contend that "American voters moved markedly toward the Republican party." From 2000 to 2004, Bush made impressive gains in 45 states, including many that he lost but that are now sporting a decidedly lighter hue of blue.

Focusing on the "Left Coalition" (Gore-Nader in 2000 and Kerry-Nader in 2004), Ceaser and DiSalvo are able to take the best measure of declining opposition to the GOP. Although Kerry outperformed Gore in 25 states, the Left Coalition made gains in only three states (Vermont, South Dakota, and Wyoming). In Massachusetts (Kerry's home state), New York, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Jersey the Left Coalition performed worse in 2004 than in 2000. Moreover, the Left Coalition lost anywhere between 2 and 6 percentage points in 17 of 31 Red states this year, representing an even greater loss for the Democrats in states where Nader had a small share.

Ceaser and DiSalvo conclude that these results indicate a much broader base of support for the GOP than conventional wisdom would concede. The Left Coalition's percentage is eroding in its own territory, where the GOP took out few ads and there were no mega-church rallies; and the GOP is expanding its percentage in states that it already controls.


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