Saturday :: Nov 6, 2004

A Choice not an Echo


by Marie

(One macro-analysis of the claim that GWB won on God, Gays and Guns, and that Democrats need to “find religion” and move right.)

California is a “blue state” even if we currently have a semi-live action “hero” for Governor. Hopefully he will go the way of other stupid ideas by CA voters like one- term Senators George Murphy, SI Hayakawa and Tunney and we will show more good sense as we did in 1962 when we rejected Nixon for our Governor.

The “buzz” about this election is how the rightwing churches went to work and delivered for GWB. Rick Warren, founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California (that’s in Orange Co – home of the Crystal Cathedral – and a GOP stronghold):

There has been a conversation going on among churches and homes now for almost two years that the media is completely overlooking. And they missed it, and they're going to miss it again. In fact, they're going to explain it away, just like Andy just tried to do. The signs have all been there for at least two year that there is a cultural shift going on, and because the media is not in the churches, they don't see it.

The three biggest surprises of this last year were the Passion, which was passed word of mouth through church networks, the Purpose Driven Life book, which was passed word of mouth through church network, and this election. And this was not a political election in my view. It was a cultural election.

newshour

How well this man articulates the GOP narrative explaining this election. “God rules America” – at least the God that hates gays, abortions and liberals, but loves war and the wealthy. There was a Red Tide that swept the country from coast to coast (or from slimy sea to slimy sea).

Already we have discovered that Clinton advised Kerry to walk away from Civil Unions – IOW support inequality. Others call for Democrats to “get religion” as if religious folks embraced Clinton after seeing him carry his bible into church, looking solemn and contrite after admitting his “indiscretion.” (How Clinton ever came to be labeled “the once in a generation gifted politician” still escapes me.) The chants for the Democratic Party to “move right” are beginning again. All based on GOP assertions and claims that purport to explain the election results. We like explanations that seem to fit the limited facts that we have – GWB got more votes and a winning margin in 2004 over what he received in 2000. Rove claimed to have enlisted four million new evangelicals for this election. Church leaders are claiming this as a victory for themselves. Hot damn, that must be why the GOP won.

But does saying so make it true? At one time women, the frequency with which women fainted was evidence of how weak they are when the truth was that they fainted because their corsets were cutting off their breathing. At one time white people were superior because their brains were bigger, well until someone bothered to weigh a few. At one time the earth was the center of the universe because God said so (guess he didn’t use Sprint for the celestial call to the Pope). What we think we know about this election could just as easily be completely wrong – and I’m not ruling out massive GOP election fraud throughout the country, not yet anyway.

What about California? Why even look at California? Two reasons. First we can be reasonably confident that the GOP was not able to fix the California election through the ballots or the automated counting of them. Any errors would most likely have affected DEM and GOP votes randomly. Second, we had a down-ticket statewide race where the differences between the two candidates was striking. Barbara Boxer is one of the most liberal Senators in DC. Bill Jones is GWB without the “compassionate” veneer/shtick. (John McCain was an early supporter/donor.) Former two term CA Secretary of State; so, he has won statewide office and is not an unknown running against an incumbent.

The outcome of neither race was in doubt long before election day. That tends to depress turn-out. However, that is not what was seen in many “safe” states this year.
AL +14%
AR +15%
GA +26%
ID +24%
IL +10%
TN +18%
UT +14%

But it was operational in CA, one of only three states with lower participation this year than in 2000: AK –10%, CA –8%, and WA -11%. I’m sure Mr. Warren and God know how much worse it would have been if not for the hordes of evangelicals who showed up this year. In 2000 Gore received 53.5% and Bush 41.7% and this time Kerry got 54.5% and Bush 44.3%. That looks good for God as long as we ignore the fact that 142,000 fewer people showed up for Bush in 2004. Therefore, we could be looking at “noise” and not evidence the Army of God.

And the Senate race? CA follows the normal pattern of fewer votes in the Senate race than the Presidential race. Specifically, 340 thousand in 2000 and 277 thousand in 2004. Lower voter participation, advantage GOP. The more liberal the Democratic candidate, the more disadvantage for the Democrat. The effects should be magnified when the evangelicals show up.

In 2000 the CA DEM candidate was Feinstein a much more conservative DEM than Boxer and her opponent, Campbell, was weaker than Jones. So, the following CW, a moderate Feinstein running in a year with higher turnout without evangelicals and with a weaker opponent would the liberal Boxer. The facts:

California --- Presidential -------------Senate
----------------Votes / Percentage ----- Votes / Percentage
2000
DEM ---------5,861m / 53.5% --------5,933m / 55.9%
GOP ---------4,567m / 41.7% ---------5,933m / 36.6%

2004
DEM ---------5,445m / 55.5% --------5,618m / 57.9%
GOP ---------4,425m / 44.3%---------3,661m / 37.7%

Yes, in California we like our lady Senators better than our Democratic Presidential nominees. But note that the GOP nominee in 2004 got 764 thousand fewer votes than GWB compared to only 680 thousand fewer by a weaker candidate before the evangelicals were mobilized! Note that the liberal Boxer got 2% more of the votes than did the moderate Feinstein. (Also, Feingold ran much stronger in his Senate race than Kerry did in WI. So, this isn’t just a CA phenonmenon.)

But let’s drill down to some of the large “red” counties.

Orange Co -- Presidential -------------Senate
----------------Votes / Percentage ----- Votes / Percentage
2000
DEM ---------392m / 40.4%------------403m / 42.7%
GOP ----------541m / 55.7%-----------471m / 50.0%

2004
DEM ---------300m / 39.1%------------327m / 43.7%
GOP ----------459m / 59.8%-----------380m / 50.8%

San Diego -- Presidential -------------Senate
----------------Votes / Percentage ----- Votes / Percentage
2000
DEM ---------438m / 45.7%------------466m / 51.3%
GOP ----------476m / 49.6%-----------370m / 40.8%

2004
DEM ---------403m / 46.7%------------434m / 52.2%
GOP ----------451m / 52.3%-----------366m / 44.0%

San Bern -- Presidential -------------Senate
----------------Votes / Percentage ----- Votes / Percentage
2000
DEM ---------215m / 47.3%------------201m / 49.3%
GOP ----------222m / 48.8%-----------177m / 43.4%

2004
DEM ---------176m / 43.4%------------194m / 49.4%
GOP ----------226m / 52.3%-----------181m / 46.1%

Yes, in two reliable GOP counties, our DEM Senators, including our liberal one, beat the rightwing GOP challengers.

In summary, if Mr. Warren’s churches were out on election 2004, they weren’t obvious in CA and they must have forget to tell them to vote against the liberal, pro-choice Senator. More importantly, when the GOP candidate is properly defined as a rightwing radical, they don’t run well, even in GOP territories. Democrats don’t need to “move right,” they need to present a clear alternative and what better way to do that than to define the opponent as the rightwinger that he is?

Marie :: 6:17 PM :: Comments (7) :: Spotlight :: Digg It!