Wednesday, July 12, 2006
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Your interesting argument for the day
In fact, it's looking more and more likely that the eight states of the Southwest and the broader interior West -- Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming -- are on their way to becoming the next great swing region in American politics. As the Republican Party tilts on its South-West axis, increasingly favoring southern values (religion, morality, tradition) over western ones (freedom, independence, privacy), the Democrats have been presented with a tremendous opportunity. If the Republican Party doesn't want to lose its hold over all of the West, as it lost hold of once-reliable California more than a decade ago, its leaders are going to have to rethink their embrace of big-government, big-religion conservatism.Read the whole thing, and see if you're convinced. I'm only about 50% convinced -- but it's interesting.
Hat tip to Virginia Postrel for the link.posted by Dan on 07.12.06 at 11:25 AM
I can't speak for the rest of the west, but here in Nevada things are definitely tilting leftward. We went for Bush in '04, but only by 2%, as compared to 3.5% in '00, and we favored Clinton by only 1% over Dole in '96 (compared to Clinton's 9% margin nationwide).
Also, this fall Nevada will have a ballot initiative to legalize small quantities (less than 2 oz) of marijuana. The local newspaper here in Fallon (pop. 8,500) actually editorialized in favor of the initiative.
It's hard to say what's behind this leftward drift. I doubt that it's just the influence of Californian immigrants. In Nevada, more than other places, we've long had an attitude of "keep the gov'mnt outta here," and it may be that Bush's crazy expansion of federal everything is pissing people off. Could be.posted by: Joel on 07.12.06 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
While it's hard to deny religion as a southern value (it can be counted) when exactly did morals and tradition become southern values? I thought it was all about widescale corruption and amoral evangelists with multiple wives.
I agree with this thesis. Historically, the Mountain West has had a stronger libertarian streak to it (except when getting grazing land from the Feds, of course). However, its not just ideology.
With all of that, these are different states. Nevada, NM, Co and AZ (modulo McCain) are far easier to pick up (and Dems did reach a dead heat in 2000 and 2004 in NM). Montana has a strong local Democratic party, but its still going to be out of Dem reach in PResidential elections for quite a while. And Utah --- well, a state where Bush wins by 40% or so is very likely to be out of reach too.
Dems need to emphasize support for gun-rights and other bread and butter issues and appeal to the burgeoning Hispanic population, and I think they can. Ain't gonna be easy, but its doable.posted by: erg on 07.12.06 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
erg brings up a good point re gun control. Here in Nevada, you DO NOT come between a man and his guns. The D party has given up gun control, which is probably the biggest reason that D's can actually compete here now.posted by: Joel on 07.12.06 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
I expect that changing demographics due to immigration (intranational) to these states is the best explanation for the "new battleground" phenomenom. It is the same reason why formerly solid republican suburbs are turning purple and even blue. Democrats are escaping the cities and moving to the suburbs, but for some reason cling to the same flawed public policies that have made cities unlivable for families. Similarly, people are fleeing the high-tax and overregulated Northeastern states and California and moving to places like North Carolina, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado, bringing their politics with them.posted by: Thom on 07.12.06 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
Ohio has more electoral votes than several of the western states combined, although we have slipped a bit.
The western states can swing politics because of the Senate.
Too bad the Dems have no coherent strategy for much of anything.posted by: save_the_rustbelt on 07.12.06 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
The GOP is also becoming an endangered species in the NE US. Even once reliably republican states like New Hampshire are tilting left due to changes in demographics (much of the south-eastern part of the state is now an extension of massachusetts) and GOP silliness on things such as climate change, health care reform and the culture wars. the war also ways heavily here. It is hard for GOP candidates to run on their traditional platform up here (fiscal restraint, sound internationalism and social tolerance) when the President appears opposed to all of the above. Even extreme moderates such as Chafee in RI appear vulnerable.
I don't think the GOP will be obliterated in the NE the way the Dems were in the South after civil rights. After all, we Democrats seem incapable of gettin our shit together and winning elections. Still, the shift in the NE US is very significant.posted by: SteveinVT on 07.12.06 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
In '04, Colorado went for Bush, but elected a new Democrat to the US Senate and gave control of both houses of the state legislature to the Dems. My own take on it, from watching the campaigns, was that the small-government Republicans finally went too far. Too many of them were saying "Privatize the state roads and let 'em charge tolls" and "Privatize the state universities and let 'em charge private school tuition rates".
In the '05 session, the Dems in the legislature referred an amendment to the voters seeking relief from Colorado's version of the Taxpayers' Bill of Rights. It passed comfortably, with the state Republicans badly split on it. The Governor and the business people favored relief; the small-government wing screamed that it was the "biggest tax hike in the history of Colorado". A companion measure asking for permission to borrow by issuing a large (for Colorado) set of bonds failed.
Colorado voters appear to have a small set of things that they want the state to do -- K-12 education, higher ed, roads, courts/prisons, and Medicare -- and if you campaign to actually do away with one or more of those you're taking a big chance, at least in most of the cities and suburbs.posted by: Michael Cain on 07.12.06 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
THere are a lot of people coming to these states from ultra expensive locales like California
Hey, I thought immigration lowered prices! I thought it made everyone better off! Yet somehow people from high immigration areas are 'voting with their feet' and leaving those areas and their wonderful ethnic restaurants behind. The cognitive dissonance is killing me.posted by: Mitchell Young on 07.12.06 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
Liberals are like the Mongol hordes. They go somewhere, enact economic policies that destroy it, and once the area starts crumbling economically, they move on to someplace new to leech off of.posted by: sam on 07.12.06 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
That must be why California and New York City are booming so much. New YOrk City and the neighboring areas are contributing a huge amount to the economy so the people in the mountain West can get their crop subsidies and their welfare on Federal lands (known as grazing rights).
If anything, its the rural, more conservative areas, of NY that have been losing population.
My reference was to housing prices. Immigration does not lower housing prices, probably increases them. However, the huge run-ups in California and NYC over the last 4-5 years have not largely been driven by immigration, but by low interest rates, speculation etc.
However, the huge run-ups in California and NYC over the last 4-5 years have not largely been driven by immigration, but by low interest rates, speculation etc.
Erg, there is a limited amount of land, especially desireable land near the mild coast in California. If you dump 10 million immigrants, legal and illegal, in that area, the demand for land goes up and therefore rents and mortagages go up. Moreover, much of the speculation is driven by immigrants, e.g. the Chinese in the bay area. Whatever meager gains natives experience from lower prices on agricultural goods and some services are wiped out by higher mortgages. That's why Californians are moving to the Mountain West, the Pacific Northwest etc.posted by: Mitchell Young on 07.12.06 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
erg brings up a good point re gun control. Here in Nevada, you DO NOT come between a man and his guns. The D party has given up gun control, which is probably the biggest reason that D's can actually compete here now.
IMO, it's tactical. Most of the Dems who used to make a lot of noise about gun control are still in office, I doubt they've changed their minds.posted by: rosignol on 07.12.06 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
The politics in Western states are strongly influenced by one issue -- the status and various uses of federally-owned land -- that is much less important in the South, or indeed in any other part of the country.
This issue provides a way for Democrats to be anti-Washington without breaking from their national party, since most Democrats elsewhere are not heavily invested in this issue and the one major Democratic interest group that is -- the environmental organizations -- are by far the weakest in the whole Democratic Party coalition.posted by: Zathras on 07.12.06 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
The Dem/Rep divide is just weird in the Southwest. I think a lot of people would be solid Reds just based on their beliefs (the professed importance of religion and GUNS and please don't forget trucks because no one here drives cars except in boulder, and also gays - 'fag' is still an acceptable insult amongst most here) but at the same time these people also are greatly affected by the availability of health care, abortion, and low to middle income jobs which receive enormous support from the federal and state governments.
In my own state, Governor Richardson (D) seems more like a good libertarian/republican than the president.posted by: John on 07.12.06 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
It's worth mentioning that three of the states mentioned -- Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming -- are the three states that went for Bush by the largest margins (larger than any southern state, including Texas) and are the only three states in which Bush's approval rating never went below 50% for more than a week. Bush's performance in Montana was roughly that of his performance in Mississippi.
Nevada is quite likely to join the Pacific states electorally, but that has as much to do with Las Vegas expansion than libertarianism. Colorado will probably join New Mexico as a swing state, but they are also the ones that shot down the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.
I'm more on the libertarian side of the GOP and so I wish that Ryan's threats held some weight, but by-and-large I don't think that they do.posted by: R. Alex on 07.12.06 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
Immigrants do drive up the price of housing. But the fact is that international immigration to SoCal, didn't suddently increase in 2001, when housing prices started growing in leaps and bounds. It was fairly steady during the burst years (the 90s for SoCal).
The huge jumps recently have not been largely driven by immigration, but by speculation, interest rates etc. And incidentally, rents have largely not gone up, indicating that this is more interest rate driven. Your comment that "most speculation is driven by immigrants" is doubtful at best and made out of whole cloth at worst. I've never seen anythign to indicate that immigrants indluge in more real estate speculation than natives.
Finally, if you are attributing the gain in housing prices primarily to immigration, then the large majority of Californians should be thanking them, because the RE boom has been responsible for Cal's economic revival and has also made many people millionaries on the basis of their houses.posted by: erg on 07.12.06 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
The West should be Left.
Even the Californification is hard to hate; how many carpenters and handymen have had huge upgrades to their incomes? How many supereasy maintainance jobs have come to town? Housing really only went up for the central primo buyers. Rent went up because the economy came up. When the regulars caught the tide, it helped, mostly.
But let's get Libertarian. The Left should claim individual Freedoms, like women's choice, communication privacies, economic privacies, PERSONAL privacies.
As for Libertarian : A Conservative can be conservative in a Liberal America, but a Liberal can't be liberal in a Conservative America! That ain't right!
One more thing about government. Our Left government will be big the RIGHT way. On your side. When you have elderly parents who are going to cost $4K/month, for seemingly forever, when you see all hints of family money eaten up, wish you had national health care. When one medical incident destroys the dreams of an entire family, maybe you want some big government. When a college education is unreachable, who ya' gonna' call?
The Left should be Conservative. When we loose the western workers because they think it takes rape & pillage to produce jobs - well, it's practically our fault! The mining/logging/etc can be done in a responsible manner, that might just produce more jobs! While keeping you own countryside clean! Maybe your own hunting is kept as you remember it. Maybe there's a tourist payoff - I'm just saying that all the western business activity can be done better, with the only loss to be against profits, or, competitiveness. So consumer prices go up a bit, but we present it as American jobs. Other competitiveness? That's what Tariffs are for! That's Right! The Democrats take care of their own!posted by: senor_crews on 07.12.06 at 11:25 AM [permalink]
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