Deep Underground with Raul Groom

Monday, November 08, 2004

Well, I did spend quite a bit of time the last few days looking at the exits. Here's what I found - the exits as currently weighted are useless. Someone needs to get in there and figure out the problem and reweight them.

The big red flag is the 2000 Voter numbers; that is, the people who voted in 2000 who also voted in 2004. Working from the CNN numbers the percentage of 2000 Gore voters who turned out was about 85%, which is reasonable. The percentage of 2000 Bush voters who turned out was more like 98%, which is impossible (people die, you know.) So whatever weighting they did no make the exits match the actual returns was flawed; it needs to be done again. Until that is done, we really have no idea what happened.

Karl Rove hit the airwaves this weekend armed with the weighted exits and pointed out some interesting facts. Actually I had to give Karl credit - he was the only person I saw on TV who clearly had spent some good time looking at the exits and decoding them. He pointed out the fact, which I have seen no one else mention, that Bush's entire popular vote margin can be accounted for by the 3.4 million additional votes he picked up among residents of big cities. That of course runs totally counter to the whole "God, guns and gays" theme that we're seeing harden into conventional wisdom.

Also, here's a tidbit for you to chew on, especially if you're despairing over the alleged right-wing social ethos that seems to be getting the credit for Bush's victory. According to the weighted exits (which again, I think need to be reexamined, but in my view the reweighting will only reinforce this trend) 55% of the electorate said that abortion should be either "always legal" or "mostly legal." Only 42% said it should be "mostly illegal" or "always illegal."

On the "gay marriage/civil unions" question, 58% of people said that same-sex unions should get some legal recognition (either marriage or civil unions) and only 37% said that they should get no legal recognition at all.

The reason this is significant is that it puts a little bit of heat on this idea, prevalant right now on the Dem side, that we lost because of societal attitudes towards gays and abortion. I submit that it is much deeper and more complicated than that.

The reality is that there has been a significant erosion of culture in the United States over the past 50 years or so. People feel as if they are losing their identity and their way of life. Republicans have been able to crystallize these feelings into a couple of key hot-button beliefs among people in the south and mountain west, but the cultural values themselves are not really partisan. People in the "heartland" ARE shocked by men kissing on television. But the idea of gays "imposing their values on the rest of us" is a stand-in for a larger cultural frustration.

What Democrats must begin to understand is that these values and concerns are real, and what is preventing us from understanding them and identifying them is that we see only the outward manifestation of these attitudes and immediately chalk it all up to rank bigotry.

There is a second thing that we must understand, and immediately - the DLC folks in the party who continue to tell us that unless we become more "centrist" we can never reach out to these people are 100% wrong. I could explain philosophically why this is, and I probably will do that eventually. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they used to say, and since the DLC began to flex its fundraising muscle in the Democratic party, we have slid inexorably toward permanent minority status, where we are languishing now.

These guys gotta go.


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