Wonkfest in Progress - Proceed with Caution

In an excellent new article updating their hypothesis from "The Emerging Democratic Majority" in light of the 2004 elections [ed. note - I don't think they go far enough; I think that continued GOP rule could undermine their thesis by destroying the United States' professional class, but more on that some other time], John Judis and Ruy Teixeira have a particularly revealing passage:
Kerry’s failure as a candidate was evident to us in two visits we made to Martinsburg, a small, blue-collar town in West Virginia. We first visited Martinsburg in July, before the Democratic and Republican conventions. At that time, knocking on doors in a working-class neighborhood, we discovered considerable dissatisfaction with Bush over the war in Iraq and the economy. Few people knew Kerry, but they said they were considering voting for him. Visiting Martinsburg two days before the election, we discovered that most of these voters had decided to support Bush. They often mentioned gay marriage and “family values” -- the area is dotted with churches -- and feeling “safer” under Bush. They also thought Kerry was too “liberal,” a comment about his “values” rather than his program.

Most of these voters were registered Democrats who had voted for Clinton in ’92 and ’96. And many of them told us, and Democratic canvassers, that they would have voted for Clinton this time, too. Typically, one voter, who faulted Kerry for being “too liberal” on “family values,” said Clinton had been “dishonest,” but that he was “an excellent president.” When these voters talked about the economy, they were clearly closer to the Democrats than Republicans, but they expressed confusion at what Kerry wanted to do. One older voter said, “Of all the countries today, we are the only one that doesn’t have any sort of health-care plan.” That sounded like a line from a Democratic ad, but the voter added that he couldn’t figure out how Kerry’s health plan worked. [emphasis mine]

Oh, jeez..."sounded like a line from a Democratic ad"? That was Howard Dean's stump speech, and the guy remembered it, and it mattered to him, and he voted for Bush!"Electability" my foot.

Teixeira always puzzled me with his enthusiasm for Wesley Clark, and this analysis is just baffling in its non-mention of Dean - not just here, when it would be totally obvious, but anywhere in the article. MoveOn is discussed at length, but not the first candidate to successfully harness the Internet. Weird.

Worth a read, though, as there's a lot of stuff to think about in there.

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