Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Monday | November 18, 2002

Taking stock of election trends, 2002

GOP operatives are crowing about electoral trends they argue should help Bush out in 2004. Amongst those trends:

  • Female support for Democratic candidates was only 2 percent higher than for Republicans. In 2000, there was an 8-point gender gap. This number is important, as women are more likely to vote than men (52-48 percent in 2000).

    That gender gap comes almost entirely from minority women, as Bush and Gore evenly split the white women vote. This may actually explain the near lack of a gender gap in 2002 -- minorities simply did not turn out at the polls.

  • The GOP handidly won the senior vote (55-45). In 2000, Democrats had a 4-point lead amongst this coveted (and high-turnout) group of voters. The GOP plans to continue wooing this group with the half-baked measures that successfully triangulated Dem issues (like prescription drug coverage). Still, Bush plans to continue pushing for the privatization of social security -- something that could cost them senior votes in 2004. (And something which myriad of GOP candidates vowed not to do.)

  • Latino voters trends are mixed. Jeb supposedly got 60 percent of the Hispanic vote (probably due to the Cuban vote and low turnout amongst Puerto Rican and other non-Cuban voters). However, Bill Simon only got 20 percent in California, and Latino voters spurred Dem victories in the governor races in Arizona and New Mexico (which bodes well for Dem chances in those two states in 2004).

    One interesting factoid, and one that requires additional examination, is that Texas' Rick Perry get 35 percent of the Latino vote, despite Tony Sanchez' candidacy.

    (A poster in the comments section directs us to this Chron article which disputes the claim that Perry got 35 percent of the Latino vote.)

The GOP also won the suburbs (which had been trending Dem), Catholics (a traditional Dem voting bloc), and the coveted independents. As a result, the GOP has lots to celebrate. The Dem response?
Democrats say Republicans are exaggerating the effect of their victories this year. A shift of just 2% of voters was responsible for the GOP wins, and Democrats' mistakes were as big a factor as the appeal of Republican candidates and principles, they say. It was ''a political earthquake (news - web sites)'' but ''not an electoral earthquake,'' Democratic strategists James Carville, Stan Greenberg and Robert Shrum wrote in a post-election memo.

The GOP's success, they wrote, ''was produced by the Democrats who barely took the stage, failed to tell voters what this election was about, and failed to offer bold critiques or alternatives, particularly on the economy.''

And even Republican strategists concede that a lot can happen in two years. Not to mention that the GOP won HUGE in 1994, only to see Clinton coast to an easy reelection two years later.
The challenge for Republicans, says Matthew Dowd, a Republican National Committee strategist, is to keep the voters who supported the party on Nov. 5 and to recruit new ones. Asked how confident he is that can be done, Dowd says, "The question is open."
Two things could instantly sour the GOP and the press on the notion that the nation is tilting rightward -- a victory by Sen. Landrieu in Louisiana next month, and solid Dem victories in Mississippi next year.

Posted November 18, 2002 09:13 AM | Comments (72)


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