FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

How the Democrats Won the West

It seems clear now that on election day voters set aside two long-held guiding principles of political wisdom. The first of those is Tip O’Neill’s oft quoted truism “All politics is local” and the second is the century old “I vote for the man”not the party.” Many voters ignored both of those on election day. The Democratic Party brilliantly nationalized this election, equating a vote for Democrats with a vote for change in Washington, D.C.

Throughout the summer and fall, the party’s strategists and the candidates worked to ride the rising wave of change. Congressional scandal followed scandal with the resignations or jailing of prominent Republicans such as Duke Cunningham, Bob Ney, Mark Foley, and Tom DeLay. Americans also watched, helplessly, as our stubborn president insisted on “staying the course” in the disaster that is Iraq. Bush’s approval rating fell to an astonishing 34 percent. For comparison purposes, we recall that Bill Clinton’s lowest approval rating during his second term mid point was 43 percent”a whopping 9 points higher than W.’s. Seeing that, Democrats moved to convince the voters that a vote for a Democrat, any Democrat, was a vote against Bush.

The 1994 “Gingrich Revolution” swept Democrats from the majority in the U. S. House. Just prior to that election only 24 percent of Americans approved of the job being done by the then Democratic Congressional majority. In comparison, the approval of today’s Republican Congress dipped to an all-time low of 16 percent. The policy missteps and ethical wrong-doings of Congressional Republicans played straight into the Democratic strategy of convincing voters that long-time Republican incumbents simply had to go if change is to be the order of the day in both the U.S. House and Senate.

Here in the Rocky Mountain West, the “50 State Strategy” of Howard Dean, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, was of significant help. Dean invested staff and money in the West as neither political party had ever done prior to this year.

The critical factor in the high support for Democrats here in the Rocky Mountain West was the votes of women, Native Americans, young people and Hispanics. In Montana, Indians and people under 30 years of age were critical to Senator-elect Jon Tester’s 2,600 vote margin. Democrats also did very well in those Rocky Mountain states with large populations of Hispanic Americans. Exit polls confirmed that women, both married and single, voted in significant majorities for Democrats, resulting in the election of four out of five Democratic governors in the states of the Rockies and significant increases in most state legislative seats.

This year it was the potent elixir of change that drove the Democrats to their historic election night victories.

PAT WILLIAMS served nine terms as a U.S. Representative from Montana. After his retirement, he returned to Montana and is teaching at The University of Montana where he also serves as a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Rocky Mountain West.

 

 

More articles by:

Pat Williams served 18 years as Montana’s Congressman. He now lives in Missoula where he teaches at the University of Montana.

June 20, 2018
Henry Giroux
Trump’s War on Children is an act of State Terrorism
Bill Hackwell
Unprecedented Cruelty Against Immigrants and Their Children
Paul Atwood
“What? You Think We’re So Innocent?”
Nicola Perugini
The Palestinian Tipping Point
K.J. Noh
Destiny and Daring: South Korean President Moon Jae-In’s Impossible Journey Towards Peace
Gary Leupp
Jeff Sessions and St. Paul’s Clear and Wise Commands
M. G. Piety
On Speaking Small Truths to Power
Dave Lindorff
Some Straight Talk for Younger People on Social Security (and Medicare too)
George Wuerthner
The Public Value of Forests as Carbon Reserves
CJ Hopkins
Confession of a Putin-Nazi Denialist
David Schultz
Less Than Fundamental:  the Myth of Voting Rights in America
Rohullah Naderi
The West’s Over-Publicized Development Achievements in Afghanistan 
Dan Bacher
California Lacks Real Marine Protection as Offshore Drilling Expands in State Waters
Lori Hanson – Miguel Gomez
The Students of Nicaragua’s April Uprising
Russell Mokhiber
Are Corporations Behind Frivolous Lawsuits Against Corporations?
Michael Welton
Infusing Civil Society With Hope for a Better World
June 19, 2018
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
We Can Thank Top Union Officials for Trump
Lawrence Davidson
The Republican Party Falls Apart, the Democrats Get Stuck
Sheldon Richman
Trump, North Korea, and Iran
Richard Rubenstein
Trump the (Shakespearean) Fool: a New Look at the Dynamics of Trumpism
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Protect Immigrant Rights; End the Crises That Drive Migration
Gary Leupp
Norway: Just Withdraw From NATO
Kristine Mattis
Nerd Culture, Adultolescence, and the Abdication of Social Priorities
Mike Garrity
The Forest Service Should Not be Above the Law
Colin Todhunter
Pro-GMO Activism And Smears Masquerade As Journalism: From Seralini To Jairam Ramesh, Aruna Rodrigues Puts The Record Straight
Doug Rawlings
Does the Burns/Novick Vietnam Documentary Deserve an Emmy?
Kenneth Surin
2018 Electioneering in Appalachian Virginia
Nino Pagliccia
Chrystia Freeland Fails to See the Emerging Multipolar World
John Forte
Stuart Hall and Us
June 18, 2018
Paul Street
Denuclearize the United States? An Unthinkable Thought
John Pilger
Bring Julian Assange Home
Conn Hallinan
The Spanish Labyrinth
Patrick Cockburn
Attacking Hodeidah is a Deliberate Act of Cruelty by the Trump Administration
Gary Leupp
Trump Gives Bibi Whatever He Wants
Thomas Knapp
Child Abductions: A Conversation It’s Hard to Believe We’re Even Having
Robert Fisk
I Spoke to Palestinians Who Still Hold the Keys to Homes They Fled Decades Ago – Many are Still Determined to Return
Steve Early
Requiem for a Steelworker: Mon Valley Memories of Oil Can Eddie
Jim Scheff
Protect Our National Forests From an Increase in Logging
Adam Parsons
Reclaiming the UN’s Radical Vision of Global Economic Justice
Dean Baker
Manufacturing Production Falls in May and No One Notices
Laura Flanders
Bottom-Up Wins in Virginia’s Primaries
Binoy Kampmark
The Anguish for Lost Buildings: Embers and Death at the Victoria Park Hotel
Weekend Edition
June 15, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Dan Kovalik
The US & Nicaragua: a Case Study in Historical Amnesia & Blindness
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Yellow Journalism and the New Cold War
Charles Pierson
The Day the US Became an Empire
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail