Politics The Blue West
posted by November 20 at 14:15 PMon
Before you consider the map below (a map that Kos just brought to my attention) first consider how all-over-the-map this publication has been on the subject of rural voters.
Nevermind the 2004 Urban Archipelago manifesto (published before I was on staff) and the question of whether or not it is now “quaint.” The last few weeks alone have brought a dizzying number follow-up stories and blog posts about the rural vote and how it should be viewed by urban liberals.
Dan wants to keep calling rural voters “rubes.” Charles prefers the term “muddy people.” Brian Mann talks about “homelanders” and how the embrace of them is killing the Republican Party. I say that a lot of this “rube”-bashing by liberals is hypocritical and self-defeating, especially in light of this guy’s victory and the role it played in giving Democrats control of the Senate. And Postman finds it all very confusing.
Well, how about a pretty map to clear things up?
This map comes from the Salt Lake Tribune, which did an analysis of Democratic gains in the Mountain West this year and reports:
After the Republican landslide of 1994, Democrats spent six years in a Western political wilderness. But since 2000, Democrats regionwide have hacked into the Republican majorities.
A Tribune analysis of U.S. House results shows that Democrats have narrowed a 20-point GOP edge in 2000 to a slim 48 percent to 47 percent deficit in 2006. In three states - Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico - Democrats have turned their red states blue, winning a majority in the House races.
In 1996, the eight states in the Rocky Mountain West sent 18 Republicans and four Democrats to the House. When Congress convenes next year, there will be 11 Democrats and 15 Republicans representing the Western districts.
Democrats now control five of the eight governorships and, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, picked up seats in five of the eight legislatures in 2006.
“All the way from Canada to Mexico you’re seeing blue,” says New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.
“You now have five Western states that are in critical play for 2008,” says Denver-based political activist Mike Stratton, referring to Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and, now, Montana. A Democratic presidential candidate who can win two or three of those states will win the White House, he says.
In other words, at stake in the debate over how talk about (and to) rural voters is not just the prize for best political insult. It’s the ultimate political prize: the presidency.