The New Republic Online: 30 Years’ War
Some really good (and heartening) analysis, here.
Bush was also fortunate in his opponent. John Kerry was an able debater, and his experience in Vietnam and on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee partially neutralized arguments that would have been made against other Democrats like former Vermont Governor Howard Dean. But Kerry, an aloof New Englander, operated at a distinct disadvantage among white, working-class voters. Unlike Bill Clinton, he had trouble convincing voters that he “felt their pain.” In interviews conducted on the eve of the election, we asked white, working-class Bush supporters in Martinsburg, West Virginia, what they thought of Clinton. Even those who praised Bush for his “family values” said they had voted for Clinton and thought he was an “excellent president.” But it wasn’t Clinton’s politics they preferred; it was Clinton himself, despite the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Gore had exactly the same problem with these voters in 2000. The Democrats need to find a candidate that can talk to both PhDs and tractor-trailer drivers.
If they do this, the Democrats will be able to win presidential elections. Kerry, after all, came very close to winning this time despite his inadequacy as a candidate. Democrats showed that they can hold their own in states like Colorado (where Democrat Ken Salazar was elected to the Senate), Arizona, Nevada, and Virginia. In many of these states, demography is on the Democrats’ side. Colorado is going to become more like California and less like Utah or Montana, and Virginia is going to become more like New Jersey and less like South Carolina. The future of Ohio is Franklin County, not Butler County. Democrats also showed that they can compete in raising money without relying on corporate contributions and that the Internet is an important vehicle for organizing.