Fifty Shades of Purple – Blue States Are American, Too

Mark of New Jersey

Mark is a Founding Editor of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, the predecessor of Ordinary Times.

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233 Responses

  1. NewDealer says:

    I am still convinced that looking at this issue state-wide is wrong.

    Based on a not very deep study, I think that the big political division in the United States has always been urban-rural over anything else. Jefferson loathed cities. The early Federalists were essentially city politicians (as much as America had cities during the early Republic).

    Today’s GOP is the part of outerring suburbs, exurbs, and rural areas. The Democratic Party is the city of cities and inner-ring suburbs (the expensive ones filled with upper-middle class Clintonesque* professionals). I think the states that you mentioned as going from toss-up to safe blue are largely ones with big enough cities/inner-ring suburbs to control an election. Pittsburgh and Philadelphia keep Pennsylvania blue along with their suburbs (especially Philly suburbs). Colorado has the Denver-Boulder Metro area but also enough hippie towns like Durango and Telluride. Oregon’s biggest growth in the past decade has been because Portland is now one of the coolest cities in America (with cheap living especially compared to other cities).

    I admit that Maine and New Hampshire are outliers here. I am not sure how much Detroit helps Michigan stay blue considered the city is still retracting. It is the urban areas of Ohio that keep it blue for Presidential elections.Report

    • While there may be some truth to this, the fact is that the math requires Republicans figure out how to start making inroads in urban and suburban areas of Blue States – persuading Latinos in Texas and Arizona to vote Republican isn’t going to make a lick of difference. Without making inroads in some of these now-Blue, fairly urban, states, the GOP’s margin for error in national elections is negligible.

      This actually shouldn’t be overly difficult to do if Republicans and conservatives just accept that Blue State suburbs have different social values than Red State suburbs. For example, the Philly suburbs, as you note, are a big chunk of what keeps PA blue for purposes of Presidential and national office elections. They are also areas where Republicans do quite well in local and state elections.

      New Jersey is basically a giant inner-ring suburb of NYC and Philadelphia (I’m only marginally exagerrating here). Its general makeup is basically what it’s always been, which is to say: high degree of racial and ethnic diversity, with a very large immigrant population. The state GOP tends to be quite competitive in state elections, and it’s had control of each house of the legislature at least once in the last decade. It voted heavily for Reagan and Bush I, and damn near went for Bush I in 1992, with conservatives in the GOP stronghold of Hunterdon County going heavily for Perot and probably throwing the state to Clinton.Report

      • NewDealer in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        “Without making inroads in some of these now-Blue, fairly urban, states, the GOP’s margin for error in national elections is negligible.”

        I was basically making this argument. I’m as blue as they come. However in theory, given my professional and socio-economic status, I should make an ideal Rockefeller Republican. Liberal on social issues, a bit more moderate on economic ones, sensible in foreign policy.

        The Republican Party has massacred the Rockefeller Republicans though.

        I think in a sane world, the Republican Party would be able to compete for socially liberal and well-educated young professionals.Report

        • M.A. in reply to NewDealer says:

          I think in a sane world, the Republican Party would be able to compete for socially liberal and well-educated young professionals.

          Slartibartfast: I’d much rather be happy than right any day.
          Arthur: And are you?
          Slartibartfast: Ahh… No. Well, that’s where it all falls down, of course.

          For some reason, that is coming to my mind, along with this recently published open letter:

          The GOP seems to have not just abandoned the people you talk about – they actively insult them. Putting some of the worst ninnies and jackanapes on the Science Committee, treating marriage equality as if it would be an apocalypse that destroyed every straight marriage in the country.

          The idea that some bible-thumper is going to die of fright trying to explain to their 5 year old kid why two men or two women are holding hands or kissing, as if they don’t have an answer for why a man and woman would be holding hands or kissing that would work just as well.

          Where exactly are the GOP going to recruit the yuppies from? In this last election, they were insulted at each turn by the GOP candidates. Insulted for pursuing education the GOP insists they “don’t need”, many insulted for the choice of degree they chose to pursue. Insulted for taking out student loans to get that education. Insulted for, perhaps, making the choice to behave in a 21st century rather than 16th century way about their sexuality, choices, preferences, and decisions regarding procreation.

          Call it what you will, but the rounds of slut-shaming of any young woman who ever used contraception were enough to not just drive any woman under 35 away from the GOP, it was enough to drive many of the younger white males away as well. Nobody wants to hear their significant other called a “slut” over and over again.Report

        • This is actually the one reason for me to be cautiously optimistic about the GOP’s long term prospects. At some point, they aren’t going to have a choice but to make a serious and concerted effort at those inroads. I think the moment of that choice will be coming very soon.

          Conservatives can say what they will about the quality of Romney as a candidate or can try to blame Romney’s loss on Sandy, but they also have to confront a world in which same sex marriage referenda just went against them in four states spanning the coasts, three of which were viewed as swing states just a decade ago. They have to confront a world in which religious conservatives have cost them multiple surefire Senate seats in consecutive elections – had the establishment’s candidate gotten the nomination in each of those cases, the GOP would currently have control of the Senate and Harry Reid would be a commentator on MSNBC. A world in which Michelle Bachmann came within an inch of losing what should have been a safe Congressional seat and in which Allen West and Joe Walsh actually did lose their safe seats. And a world in which George Allen was comfortably beaten in Virginia by Tim Kaine by a larger margin than Obama beat Romney in that state.Report

  2. Tom Van Dyke says:

    FTR, MarkT, I agree that via federalism, the GOP can offer socially conservative states protection from Leviathan’s bulldozer that’s unlikely to come from the Democrats. No, there won’t be a national Pro-Life Amendment declaring personhood from the moment of conception, but pro-life legislation such as parental notification is making incremental progress in the state legislatures. So there will be national representation from the red states [and Obama won only 26 states to 24] to keep NY and CA from stamping their social mores on Utah and Idaho as long as the GOP keeps faith with the SoCons and federalism.

    As for Chris Christie, Barack and the hurricane, the headline doth not match the news.

    Exit polls 2012: Hurricane Sandy not a factor

    “Fifty-five percent of those surveyed, per CBS News’ early exit polling released by radio station WKZO in Kalamazoo, Mich., said Obama’s handling of the storm was a minor factor in their vote or wasn’t a factor at all. Twenty-six percent named Sandy as an “important” factor, and 15 percent said it was the “most important” factor in their decision.

    Bold face mine. “Not a factor.” Right. Politico, playing it straight down the left side of the middle as usual.

    Did Obama handle Sandy well, or was it “Katrina on the Hudson?” We shall never know. Since his competence was an election issue, Hurricane Sandy went from a potential dealbreaker to dealsealer, with Chris Christie was in the middle of the negotiations with the American public. Well done, Chris. When you run for re-election next year, I’d vote for your opponent Cory Booker (who’s attractive to Republicans anyways) just to remind other potential quislings that elephants never forget.Report

    • Yeah, you’re still proving my point. The only people who get to decide whether Obama handled Sandy well are, well, the people who were actually affected by it.

      I’m sorry, but all this conservative whining about Christie’s response comes across as little more than an insistence that Christie should have given the finger to his constituents in order to be a better surrogate for Romney. Surely you can understand how that might come across as (a) offensive as all hell; and (b) batshit crazy.

      The point of running for office and of being a politician is to obtain the ability and responsibility of actually governing. How one governs is thus infinitely more important than how one campaigns. Christie chose to govern; he did it well, and is doing it well. That is something conservatives should be proud of, not run from.

      Conservative attacks on Christie’s response insist otherwise and send the message to those of us who don’t identify with Red State culture that Blue States don’t matter, which, again, has been at the core of conservatives’ narrative for the last decade – hence, talk about “Real America,” prominent websites called “RedState,” etc.

      The numbers don’t lie, though – without making inroads into Blue States, conservatives have almost no room for error in national elections right now and for the foreseeable future. That means conservatives need to start actually treating Blue States as legitimately and wholly American, not as European satellite states.

      Simply put, conservatives need to recognize that they need Blue State voters more than Blue State voters need conservatives. Bitching about how our governor should spend more time being an effective surrogate and less time actually governing in the midst of a crisis says a lot about conservatives’ priorities, and our wellbeing doesn’t appear to be on the list.

      As for the claim about Sandy’s effect on the election, I’d say it makes a big difference where the people assigning it as the “most important” factor in their came from, no? I also don’t ever put much stock in those kinds of subjective poll questions – if it were true that the hurricane response was the single most important factor in 15 percent of voters’ decisions, then far more than 11% of voters nationally would have decided whom to vote for in the last few days before the election. It’s safe to say that a good chunk of the people who said “most important” regarding the Sandy response were either: (a) fibbing as an added expression of support for Sandy victims, or (b) time-travelers.

      Additionally, and most importantly, the figure regarding the percentage of people who said Sandy was the most important factor in the vote appears to be based on a very unusual extrapolation from the exit polls, as the question wasn’t even asked in most states’ exit polls. It was asked in NY and NJ, where it was not surprisingly listed as the most important factor by a good number of people. It was not, so far as I can tell, asked in Ohio, Pennsylvania, or Virginia, to name just the first couple states that I looked at.

      Ultimately, the notion that Christie cost Romney the election is absurd, and nothing but an excuse to explain away the fact that final election results were exactly in line with months of pre-election data.Report

      • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        Christie didn’t need such praise to get President Obama to do his job. And the poll indicated that my objection

        Since [Obama’s] competence was an election issue, Hurricane Sandy went from a potential dealbreaker to dealsealer, with Chris Christie in the middle of the negotiations with the American public.

        is at least viable. Coupled with Christie’s self-aggrandizement in his keynote speech at the convention, he’s off the A-List in many eyes, incl mine. We have many better: Kasich, Jindal, Rubio, Ryan, even that other Bush fellow. That puts Christie 6th, with more room at the bottom than the top.

        That’s not to say Christie can’t make it up to me over the next 4 years, but he’s more type of Republican Peggy Noonan writes about than the type people actually get out and knock on doors for.Report

        • Christie didn’t need such praise to get President Obama to do his job.

          No one actually knows for certain whether lack of praise would have impacted the federal government’s response. Given the stakes for Christie’s constituents, to avoid that praise would have been a pretty pointless risk, especially given that Romney was going to lose anyhow. Note that this doesn’t imply anything nefarious on Obama’s part – as a general rule, when you need to work closely with someone more powerful than you, it’s a pretty good idea to make sure that you get along as well as possible with them to minimize the possibility of miscommunication. Given the severity of Christie’s attacks on Obama up to that point, being exceedingly gracious was about the only way to make sure things were smoothed over enough to ensure good communication between the two.

          In addition, in this state, Obama is very popular. Almost anyone who has a problem with Christie is a passionate supporter of Obama and, for the most part, vice versa. Under the circumstances, a strong – and most importantly, patient – response to the hurricane by the citizens of this state required that just about everyone, not just Christie’s many supporters, place an awful lot of trust in Christie. Christie’s praise of Obama bought him a lot of goodwill, patience, and trust from Democrats around the state. The utility of that goodwill and patience for purposes of making the recovery run smoothly cannot be underestimated – the recovery was going to take weeks regardless; if the state had to deal with responding to constant complaints from local Dem officials, massive protests in heavily Dem areas, or worse, outright civil unrest, then the recovery quickly would have become disorganized, behind schedule, and in general a complete clusterfish.

          So on the one hand, you’ve got a conservative governor of a blue state doing a fantastic job of actually helping his constituents. On the other hand, you’ve got conservatives around the country ignoring the unbelievable damage to the state of New Jersey and deciding that the most promblematic and important aspects of the storm were, in order: (1) Christie said nice things about Obama; (2) Christie refused to join Romney for a campaign event instead of doing his job as governor; (3) a couple of workers from Alabama were barred from helping with the recovery because they were non-union, even though this actually did not happen; and (4) Hank Williams Jr. wasn’t asked to play at a benefit concert. Actual concern for the victims of the storm doesn’t even rate with conservatives.

          And then you wonder why I’m pissed.Report

          • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Mark Thompson says:

            Surely you don’t mind if I disagree. That’s OK, yes? I thought his praise was over the top. And when Obama asked Bloomberg for a photo-op, Bloomberg said they were too busy.

            And you’ve opened the door to Obama doing less than his best for New Jersey because of an animus against Christie. That should be unthinkable of any American president.

            As for the rest of your laundry list, I don’t know and can’t answer for what some conservatives somewhere think, any more than I hold you responsible for the views of say, Samuel L. Jackson. Or Peggy Noonan, whathaveyou.Report

            • I’d be happy if you just acknowledged that people in New Jersey are infinitely in a better position to evaluate the quality of the federal and state governments’ response than you. As for Bloomberg turning Obama down, Bloomberg’s response is not exactly something that people should be holding up as a model of disaster management; if ever you wanted confirmation that Bloomberg cares about Manhattan and no other boroughs, his response proves it.

              Nor have I suggested Obama would have given less than his best effort because of an animus towards Christie. But Jesus H. Christ, when people who have personal animus between them try to coordinate on something, the situation becomes ripe for miscommunication.

              Nor am I holding you responsible for others’ views; I am simply pointing to various stories that I have seen circulate widely amongst conservative media to point out the message those stories send. However, I will note that your own actions and words have made abundantly clear that the issue of Christie saying a few nice words about Obama is infinitely more important to you than the actual harm Christie was trying to remedy.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                This needn’t get personal. We have enough broken windows. Ours was one of the more civil ones today.Report

              • I have news for you – the issue of the response to Sandy is personal. That you and other conservatives don’t get that is the entire fishing point.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                Ok. Peace, I’m out.Report

              • And therein lies the problem. Want to know why the GOP has no room for error in national elections and has a huge demographics problem? It’s that there is absolutely no consideration given to how conservative preferences affect actual, existing people with actual, existing problems.

                Maybe in the long run Romney would have been a better President than Obama; maybe not. But the differences between them are purely hypothetical, addressing purely hypothetical problems that may or may not exist come Inauguration Day or sometime thereafter.

                Here we have a situation that is not a hypothetical, but is all too real. Conservatives refuse to discuss those actual effects on actual people. Worse, by their actions, they demonstrate that they placed vastly more value on working towards a hypothetical Romney admnistration that may or may not have been an actual improvement than they placed on concern with the actual effects of an action on actual people with actual problems. The only problems worth discussing, it would seem, are the problems that conservatives have to deal with, like a politician who goes off message or the possibility that their taxes may go up a few dollars, or the outlandish possibility of same-sex marriage somehow hypothetically affecting heterosexual marriages.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                I really have not much room left to demur, MarkT. I declined to litigate gay marriage at the LeagueCast, and I think Mike Dwyer’s post/poll indicates that bedroom-and-bong libertarianism is not the vote-getter one might think it to be.

                For one thing, Barack Obama was anti-both in 2008 and I daresay taking the other side would not helped the doomed John McCain much.

                So leaving out the substance, on the rhetorical level–in my opinion—and I think to the disinterested observer as well, Christie was pouring on the BS thick first in condemnation of Obama, then in praise. Perhaps we’ll want another master BSer in 2016, but he’s no Bill Clinton, who mixes a wink in there somewhere to let us all in on the joke, supporter and opponent alike.

                Were I a Democrat detractor, I’d use this incident to illustrate that Christie doesn’t mean a goddamn word he says.

                And I expect they will.

                And the anti-public union riff has already been copped by Dems such as Cuomo, Rahm, and even here a bit in California. It’ll be old news by 2016. So in the least, he’s starting from scratch with this Republican.

                As a blue-state governor, he’s aces. But me, I’d rather Mitt Romney, of whom I still think quite highly, or any of the aforementioned Class of ’16.Report

              • How are you possibly this tone deaf? How are you missing the point this badly that you’re actually proving it, over and over?

                You were not the victim of the storm. Conservatives outside of NJ and NY were not victims of the storm. But to listen to you and other conservatives, conservatives outside of NJ were the ONLY victims of the storm.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                I’m trying to disengage cheerfully. I don’t agree and I don’t think a 3-pt loss in the presidential election to an indisputably landmark figure in all of American history—with historically minimal losses in Congress—is the time to back up the truck on the GOP just yet.

                Let’s rendezvous back @ Christie ’13.Report

              • There’s nothing to disagree with, Tom. I note- again- that at no time have you so much as acknowledged the reality on the ground here in NJ, instead insisting that the reality here in NJ is whatever you want it to be. Would it really kill you to acknowledge that real people were affected by this storm, and that a lot of those real people have been helped both by Christie and Obama? I know this is inconvenient to your narrative and all, but Jesus, man!Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Getting Barack Obama’s attention for NJ was worth licking his boots. OK, I can respect that. And that’s only half-sarcastic.Report

              • Chris in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Tom, this is some of your most impressive shit. And I chose that word carefully.Report

              • Whatever helps you sleep at night, I guess. Beyond the fact that you’re willfully misrepresenting the point regarding the need for good relationships between Christie and Obama, you’re also completely ignoring what Christie’s praise of Obama did for ensuring the state stayed abnormally unified long enough to allow the recovery process to occur as expeditiously and smoothly as possible. The value of that cannot be understated – this isn’t a kunbayah thing either, it’s a matter of ensuring people had the patience to give the state and federal government, not to mention the utilities, space to do what needed to be done in a generally orderly manner. That patience – in a state historically known for a complete lack of patience- knocked days, if not weeks, off the time needed for the initial recovery.

                I know this is true because I saw it and experienced it.

                Was that his intention? Only Christie himself knows for certain. But it certainly was the effect, and the effect is all that matters.Report

              • Please let me try to yield the last word for the second time, Mark.Report

              • Very well, then. Because you have now made it abundantly clear to me that you have no concern for others, do not expect me to show concern for you again going forward.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Mark, this was an awesome exchange, because it so perfectly illustrated the point you’re making. Although TVD may have a defensible analytic point, he either can’t understand or just doesn’t care how it actually sounds to the people most directly affected. From his front porch a continent away he’s Calsplainin’ things to NJ hurricane victims. And he can’t seem to grasp how that view, if widely promulgated, might affect the way NJ voters view the GOP.

                That in a nutshell is one very large part of the GOP’s problem. Immigration is an important issue, and by no means do all citizen Latinos want an open borders policy. But in their handling of the issue the GOP has refused to consider the way Latino voters are hearing their message–and so a large and growing group they have long dreamed of winning to their side gave 70% of their vote to the Democratic candidate.

                Pro-family policies ought to be a way of winning over women voters, but the GOP refuses to consider the way in which women voters are hearing their message, and so the Democratic candidate got 55% of the female vote (and remember, women are over half the electorate; Dems have a majority of a majority).

                We see this refusal to consider how others are actually hearing us all the time right here on this blog, regardless of what the issue is (yes, I’m guilty, too often). It’s bad enough then, but we’re all writing quickly, a the spur of the moment, so errors are more forgivable. But when you’re talking about electoral strategy, when you’re in a position where you need to be thinking long-range, it’s inane.

                The Democrats aren’t immune to the problem, of course; they really don’t get the way white non-urban men hear them (and, like the GOP with blacks, blame the listener). But the Democrats can, as a matter of electoral strategy, get away with that. That’s just one small and shrinking portion of the electorate. The GOP is doing that to multiple, and growing, segments of the electorate.

                Whatever emotional satisfactions it might give, whatever success in mobilizing the base, it’s just not a strategy that’s going to pay off in the long run.Report

              • I think this speaks to what I am seeing as a trend to watch in the data. Regional demographics are slowly disappearing. Southerners, Midwesterners, etc are voting as a less monolithic group than even 8 years ago. If people idenitify less based on their geogrpahic locale that means other group identifiers are going to become more important. I’m terrified of the thought that racial designations will become more key, but they are certainly moving in that direction.Report

              • Kim in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                I’m pretty sure racial designators have never gone away. Blacks have voted for the democrat, even in the Solid South, for a long, long time.
                Jews vote much more Democratic than their incomes would suggest.

                I don’t see those strengthening much, because they’re already pretty fucking high. Maybe hispanics? *shrugs*Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Exactly is exactly right. Well said James.

                {{This subthread has been a slowmotion trainwreck to witness, even tho one of the participants was unaware that the engine was off the tracks.}}Report

              • Mike – I think I see what you’re getting at, and you may well be right.

                The reason I’m not as pessimistic over the long run is that the GOP actually has quite a bit of power to prevent it from happening or to at least reverse it; at some point, its own survival is going to depend on it waking up and recognizing the unsustainability of a party containing prominent people who insist on conserva-splaining everything rather than actually trying to listen to and converse with other groups.Report

              • Mark – well of course you are right. But unfortunately you have the TVDs of the GOP doing just that. If you watched the other night, Tom just couldn’t understand why blacks were still mad at the GOP now that Strom Thurmond is gone. We’ve got o do a better job of listening.

                I think we also have to do a better job at explaining our positions in a logical way and to not be so rigid. For example, it’s okay to be opposed to abortion, but we have to be able to explain that in a non-secular way and also promote other policies that would limit the need for abortion. I think essentially we need a more holistic approach to policy whereas the GOP wants to just promote one idea and hammer it forever.Report

              • NewDealer in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:


                An honest and sincere question, how does the Democratic Party message sound to non-urban men?

                I say this as someone who is 100 percent urban/suburban and my Judaism probably cancels out the part of me that is caucasian in terms of American voting demographics. Do political scientists even count Jews as being part of the Caucasian demographic? I’ve never been able to figure that out. On the one hand, I am in the minority of white men because I vote Democratic but still in the majority of Jewish voters, voters with advanced degrees, young urban voters, etc.

                Honestly I have never gotten the constant Republican message of “personal responsibility” repeated ad naseum. When does the Republican party feel like the state or citizens have responsibility to each other? There has been a lot of Republican meltdown blamming the voters for picking Santa Claus (the Democratic Party) and wanting “free stuff” instead of a life of full personal responsibility and agency. As far as I can tell, the Republicans/conservatives mean this to say: No safety net, no public goods, no assistance. Just a full life of self-sufficient yeomanery.

                Is it so incomprehensible to the Republican Party that their message sounds rather horrible to people living in the modern world? That we see that living in a globalized economy where most people are employees and require long educations means needing good roads, good schools, access to healthcare in case of ever increasing layoffs, that we want a safety net to prevent us from being too hurt by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune? That we might be willing to pay higher taxes in order to have better schools and good government services?

                I know you are not a Republican but to me just saying “personal responsibility” is a rouse, a trap. There are plenty of times in life when bad things happen to people and it is no fault of the people themselves. Plenty of people hurt in the recent financial crisis did not take out sub-prime mortgages and were not involved in the financial industry. Why should they take “personal responsibility” for being suddenly laid off?Report

              • Kim in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Not that I’m a white rural voter or nothing…
                But let me take a crack at it, anyhow.

                Imagine you’ve had bred into your bone, that if someone’s in trouble, you get out and help. Imagine that is seen as a matter of life and death, not just politeness or religious duty. (to the point where even the most racist of folks would stop and help a black guy if he was in trouble. they might not shake his hand, or invite him home, but by george, he’d get where he was going!).

                Might it be hard to understand why folks actually need the gov’t to help?

                If you and your kin make it their business to make sure nobody slips through the cracks, might it make sense that government might not be needed in the interaction?

                Now, hear that these crazy liberals want to take away your guns. You’re three bloody hours from the nearest cop. And that guy pulling into your driveway at 10pm could be up to god knows what. You know you need your guns, not just for tradition and not just for huntin’. It seems plumb stupid to take ’em away.

                ScotchIrish/Borderlander take: It rankles when people wanna be special (press 2 for spanish). Why can’t they all just fit in? This leads down to the whole “you can be white too!” ideal.Report

              • NewDealer in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:


                Most people simply don’t live like that anymore. Bowling Alone is more of the way we live now.

                There are also plenty of groups that value industriousness, thrift, community solidarity but come from cultures that are not as hostile towards the government or government services. Jews, Hispanics, and Asians have all been given as recent examples in the wake of the 2012 election.

                In short, the Scots-Irish attitude seems to me to be a relic of the past. Yes if you live in a rural area, you can always hunt for your own food and have your own garden. Most of us don’t live this way and there are too many people in the United States for most of us to live in a self-sufficient yeoman kind of way. Most of the Republican Party propagandists are not self-sufficient yeoman either. Do Richard Lowry and Jonah Goldberg buy their own health insurance? I doubt it.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                New Dealer,

                I’m sorry to say I can’t actually answer that question with any precision. I only know that what Democrats think they’re saying and what non-urban white men (that’s a loose categorization, of course) think they’re hearing are two very different things. I don’t want to put Mike Dwyer on the spot, but I think he might be in a much better position to put some specifics on that than I am.

                Do political scientists even count Jews as being part of the Caucasian demographic? I’ve never been able to figure that out.
                Heh, neither have I. I remember in grad school a fellow grad student complaining about how white our faculty were. I noted that 1/4 were Jewish, and asked if that counted. No, they didn’t think it did. What if there were no Jewish professors in the department (given the high number in academia in general)? Oh, well that would be a problem. And it’s never gotten any clearer to me than that.Report

              • Kim in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                re:bowling alone
                how does that square with the realities of the marketplace?
                Did you catch the piece on Walmart and hate groups (consumerist had it up…)?Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                MikeD, Thurmond was the only Dixiecrat senator the GOP took in: the rest remained Democrats, such as Al Gore’s father. Regardless of the actual history, how do you propose the GOP apologize for taking Thurmond in, who reformed just as much as the Democrat in good standing and future Senate Majority leader, the former Klansman Robert Byrd who also filibustered the Civil Rights Act?

                I suppose the answer once again is to buy into the lie and apologize for it. There may be no other way. But don’t tell me I don’t understand this cudgel. I understand that it works just fine.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Mark, there’s nothing I can do with your victim/moral authority card. It’s a successful trump and you played it. You live in NJ, Christie went from Obama critic to fan for your sake, and nobody can say boo.

                That you feel you owe me no human decency from here on in because of my differing view, well, that’s not a rare thing these days, to make the politics personal rather than the other way around. This is our big problem, that if a person is on the side of the angels, the rules of society don’t apply to you.Report

              • Kim in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                of course people don’t live like that as much anymore. that doens’t mean some people don’t still, and that others aren’t nostalgic for it. particularly when they see all their kids heading to the city…Report

              • No, Tom. I owe you no decency because you have made clear that you are unwilling to provide the most basic of humad decencies to anyone else. I have bent over backwards more than anyone here to give you the benefit of the doubt and to be decent to you. You have chosen not to reciprocate by providing even the most basic of human decencies, which is to acknowledge that someone actually experiencing something knows better than you about how that something is affecting that person or to show even a modicum of concern for actual people suffering actual problems. That this attitude is typical of conservatives in general is not an excuse.Report

              • I think this is a fair representation of how conservatives such as you respond to problems:

                Person: This thing you’re doing is hurting me.
                TVD: That you would mention your hurt to me is hurtful to me. You’re just trying to make conservatives look bad and you aren’t actually hurt.Report

              • Chris in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Tom, what I find incomprehensible is that you seem to think which party Byrd or Thurmond did or did not end up in has any influence on how a 23 year old black man votes today. Or a 43 year old black man, for that matter. Your problem, quite honestly, is that you are not capable of seeing them as rational voters who vote based on what they see today. For you, it is as simple as who was in which party 30 years ago (or 20, or 10), and what the parties are saying and doing today can’t possibly be a factor. When you wake up from your partisan slumber, I suspect you’ll see how foolish you are being. Until then, it’s hard not to think you’re a mind wasted.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                No, Tom. I owe you no decency because you have made clear that you are unwilling to provide the most basic of humad decencies to anyone else.Report

              • Instead of playing the victim here and crying about fairness, maybe you should ask yourself why someone who has always bent over backwards more than anyone else to be fair to you is done with you. That alone would do an awful lot of good.Report

              • I’m sure you believe that.Report

              • Seeing as you’ve said as much yourself, yeah, I do.Report

              • Ok, brother. I’ll think of this as a one-off and hope we do better next time around. Peace.Report

              • I suppose the answer once again is to buy into the lie and apologize for it. There may be no other way. But don’t tell me I don’t understand this cudgel. I understand that it works just fine.

                You. Are. Not. The. Victim.Report

              • greginak in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                Tom is always the victim. Always.Report

              • MikeSchilling in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                Conservatives are always the victims. This dates back to at least 1964, when the real victims were the ones who might have to sell food to a person of the wrong color.Report

              • DRS in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                Greginak: I was reading MT’s comment and just thought your exact statement in my head – then scrolled down and read yours! My work colleagues wondered why I laughed out loud.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                Hey… those fire hoses were unwieldy, man. You know how many guys dislocated shoulders?Report

              • Those were Democrats with the fire hoses. But whatever.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                ladies and gentlement, I give you Tom — who neatly encapsulates why the GOP has completely lost the minority vote.

                How do you do it? Treat minorities like they’re flaming ignorant morons — or be one yourself. For Tom’s sake, I won’t speculate on whether he is ignorant of the last 50 years of American history as it pertains to politics and race, or whether he thinks everyone else is.Report

              • Not atall. Whites fall for the racebaiting narrative too. Why Klansman Robert Byrd [D-WV] was acceptable and Strom Thurmond [R-SC], both participants in the infamous Civil Rights filibuster of 1964, wasn’t is a triumph of symbolism, not substance.Report

              • MikeSchilling in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                Where did I use a word that means “not Democrats”?Report

              • Tom,

                You can’t possibly be taken seriously on a discussion of the GOP and black in 2012 when you keep referencing Strom Thurman and Robert Byrd.

                Like I said, most of the current beef is over what happened during the Reagan years (read: drug war, minimum sentencing).Report

              • MikeSchilling in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                Republicans: the Stupid Talking Point Party.Report

              • Does anyone have some good numbers on AfricanAmericans and their views on the drug war? My impression is that it’s not as clear{t a thing as is it is sometimes talkes about being.Report

              • The War on Crack was Kerry and Kennedy after Len Bias dies. Mike, I’m up for good faith discussion, but not at the cost of being dehumanized. I think a lot of history has been revised, with the GOP getting the brown end of the stick.

                To wit: The crack era was an unimaginable horror–for black folks. It wasn’t Reagan screwing the black man, it was the black community who—quite rightly–demanded we do something.

                NYT mag 2005:

                And what does this index reveal? That crack use was nonexistent until the early 1980’s and spiked like mad in 1985, peaking in 1989. That it arrived early on the West Coast, but became most prevalent in the cities of the Northeast and Middle Atlantic States. And that it produced a remarkable level of gun violence, particularly among young black men, who made up the bulk of street-level crack dealers. During the crack boom, the homicide rate among 13- to 17-year-old blacks nearly quintupled. But perhaps the biggest surprise in the crack index is the fact that, as of 2000 — the most recent year for which the index data are available — Americans were still smoking about 70 percent as much crack as they smoked when consumption was at its peak.

                In 1986, in the national frenzy that followed the death of Len Bias, a first-round N.B.A. draft pick and a cocaine user, Congress passed legislation requiring a five-year mandatory sentence for selling just five grams of crack; you would have to sell 500 grams of powder cocaine to get an equivalent sentence. This disparity has often been called racist, since it disproportionately imprisons blacks.

                In fact, the law probably made sense at the time, when a gram of crack did have far more devastating social costs than a gram of powder cocaine. But it doesn’t anymore. Len Bias would now be 40 years old, and he would have long outlived his usefulness to the Boston Celtics. It may be time to acknowledge that the law inspired by his death has done the same.

                Now you want to talk reform, let’s. But this cannot be laid at Reagan’s feet nor racism’s.Report

              • Tom,

                You’re being a little dramatic with the ‘dehumanized’ angle. I simply disagree with your position. This isn’t personal for me.

                And your citation sort of accurately frames the problem. During the Reagan years harsher penalties were put in place for crack verses powdered cocaine. This has never been changed. A generation of young black men were imprisoned, which still has a lasting effect today AND the policy hasn’t really been changed much. The Drug War is directly linked to Reagan at his own insistence. I grew up in the 1980s. We had Nancy telling us not to do drugs for most of my adolescent years.Report

              • Apparently, it was a self-executing law.

                I’m up for good faith discussion, but not at the cost of being dehumanized.

                Then it would probably be wise of you to actually engage in good faith discussion and not dehumanize people.Report

              • greginak in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                Small point. The crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity has been reduced under Obama.


              • Well, Mike, I think you bought into the lie–not your fault, it’s the prevailing lie, in this case Reagan vs. the black man.


                But I’m beginning to think the truth will never out. Although innocent, it seems the GOP should just plead guilty anyway and throw itself on the mercy of the court.

                But the problem is, the court has no mercy. If the Democrats lose the monolithicity of certain minority blocs–already having lost 60% of the white vote–it’s the Democrats who are up the creek.

                Therefore the race narrative can and must continue unabated: for it to end is doom for the Dems.Report

              • FWIW, a quick scan of polls suggest that drug decriminalization efforts harbors less support in the black community than in white communities. So regardless of whether it is bad policy, or how detrimental the WOD is to the black community, I haven’t seen any indication that that’s a significant factor in what divides the GOP from African-Americans.

                Tom’s reading of the history of the cocaine/crack distinction is more in line with what I was lead to understand. But either way, this is a debate that we’re having among ourselves and I have not yet seen any evidence that we (skeptics of the WOD) aren’t projecting our own views onto the community we are discussing.

                I’m open to reconsidering if anyone can point the way to some polls that African-Americans are in fact in favor of decriminalization or a standing down on the WOD.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Mark Thompson says:


                I’ve heard African-Americans strongly advocate on both sides of the drug issue. Some see firsthand the havoc drug use (usually hard drug use) can have on thir family, friends, and communities and support prohibition. Others see a system steeped in racism and the prison industrial complex as just as damaging. If you probed deeply, my gut says you wouldn’t find too much strong libertarian style legalization efforts, but you would see strong calls for reform away from imprisonment and towards rehab, education campaigns, and (more broadly) community support.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Mark Thompson says:


                My “firehose” comment was a bad joke. My apologies. I think there is room for a broader discussion on the role of self-victimization/victimization in politics. I don’t think I did much there to further that.Report

              • It was kind of a good joke, Kazzy, although the timing wasn’t the best for li’l ol’ moi.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                “Hey… those fire hoses were unwieldy, man. You know how many guys dislocated shoulders?”

                “Those were Democrats with the fire hoses.”

                Conservative Democrats. And what party do they and their ideological descendants belong to today?

                You want blacks to hate Democrats because they used to be the boll weevil party, and love the Republicans today even they they now are the boll weevil party. Got it.Report

              • KatherineMW in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                Welcome to the club of everyone here who isn’t a straight white male (and some who are) and who has dealt with Tom.

                There is no possible way of pointing out something is offensive and being heard. The only reason anyone might ever claim something Tom says is offensive is in order to undermine or ignore his point. There’s no getting through that wall. If it provides anything, it’s an object lesson as to what bars the GOP from making progress with anyone outside their base.Report

        • Shazbot5 in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          Oh, another Bush on the ballot in 2016 would be fine with the D’s.Report

      • MikeSchilling in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        It’s safe to say that a good chunk of the people who said “most important” regarding the Sandy response were either: (a) fibbing as an added expression of support for Sandy victims, or (b) time-travelers.

        Did they volunteer “Hurricane Sandy!” or were they asked “How important was Hurricane Sandy to you?” It makes a big difference in how seriously to take the answer.Report

        • Tom Van Dyke in reply to MikeSchilling says:

          I don’t really think it swung the election, although had the media made it look like Katrina, it would have. [Was it a good or a bad job by the admin, all things considered? We will never know.]

          But I also think Christie was being Christie, and his praise for Obama for simply showing up was over the top and unnecessary for the people of New Jersey. If Obama would do a better job on the disaster just because Christie kissed his butt, that is a problem in itself.Report

          • If Obama would do a better job on the disaster just because Christie kissed his butt, that is a problem in itself.

            When working on an important project with someone, do you find that project goes more or less smoothly when you get along and trust each other or when you are openly hostile to that person such that neither of you really trust each other?Report

            • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Mark Thompson says:

              Christie made himself look ridiculous with his 180 in criticizing Obama’s leadership. The week before he said Obama couldn’t find the light switch.

              You can vote for him if you like. If his opponent were Barack Obama or Jon Corzine, sure I’d vote for Christie. But I believe in parties and I think Christie is out for Christie, and no, I don’t buy he did the buttsmooch on behalf of the people of NJ, sorry. He did it for Re-Elect Christie in 2013.

              In my opinion. Meanwhile, I have a half-dozen Republicans I like much better.Report

              • He made himself look ridiculous to conservatives in other states. That says far more about the conservatives than it says about Christie. As for whether you like other Republicans better….well, great. Good for you. That’s not the issue.

                The issue is that conservatives don’t have a clue why people in so-called Blue States, even people who might otherwise have conservative sympathies, have no patience for them. Here’s a hint: it starts with the fact that conservatives act as if Blue States are less than wholly American.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:


                While in the past I think the ‘circle-the-wagons’ mentality has served the national Republican party well, when it comes to things like natural disasters the best governors will do whatever they have to do to help their states. I feel greatly inclined to trust Mark’s judgement on whether it was necessary. And furthermore, I don’t think Christie was brown-nosing. He has a reputation for being honest and he was pleased with the federal response.Report

              • Michelle in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                From my perspective, as someone who generally votes Democratic, I felt Christie came off as sincere and genuine in his concern for the citizens of his state. I’d liked Christie before; in interviews it’s clear that he’s intelligent and thoughtful. But his behavior during the crisis increased my respect for him as something other than the typical politician. To see the Fox-o-sphere explode about his betrayal of Romney and the Republican Party only reinforced my impression that they’re shallow hacks concerned not about the reality of people’s lives but only scoring points for their side.

                Mark’s right. Republicans write off blue state voters at their own peril.Report

              • DRS in reply to Michelle says:

                Conservatives should be careful how they play this one. People will put up with political gamesmanship as long as politicians are only trying to hurt each other but when they try to take it into real life then the public can get very annoyed indeed.

                Reality: Christie was doing his job, Obama was doing his job. After all, they each had a precedent to consider: remember what the Governor of Louisiana and George W. Bush did for Katrina – and do exactly the opposite.Report

          • MikeSchilling in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            Why will we never know? It is possible to dig into the facts and present them honestly.Report

      • Troublesome Frog in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        If you want to succeed in politics, you have to be able to bite the hand that is pulling you into the lifeboat while you’re being pulled into the lifeboat as long as you sense that your rescuer is professional enough not to drop you.Report

    • NewDealer in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

      “I’d vote for your opponent Cory Booker (who’s attractive to Republicans anyways) just to remind other potential quislings that elephants never forget.”

      And this sums up the other major problem of the Republican party. Lockstep, lockstep, lockstep….Report

        • I criticized the Dems harshly for that at the time, as you may recall. This is infinitely worse – Christie is being disowned, not in spite of being good at his job (which was the case with Booker), but because of it. Tu quoque doesn’t even begin to work here.Report

          • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Mark Thompson says:

            The spitstorm Booker got for much less certainly works in reply to “lockstep, lockstep, lockstep.” Devastatingly.Report

            • Hi! I wrote the post you linked above, and just popped in to point out you’re using it inaccurately.

              It criticizes Booker not for partisan reasons, as Republicans are doing in tearing Christie a new asshole, but for “good government” reasons: he has donors he doesn’t want to upset for his 2014 race, and he went out of his way to run interference for them on a panel show in a toxic way; he was trying to make a political judgement appear as objective statements of fact. We should call politicians out when they do that. Then he made a youtube video “apology”, in which he re-iterated his support and commitment to Obama’s campaign but doubled-down on flacking for his donors. We should call politicians out on that too.

              The first business day after he released his youtube video he went on Rachel Maddow’s show, in which she had an exclusive interview with him, and in the fifteen or so minutes she talked to him, her only question addressing his comments about his donors was along the lines of “did making those comments fray your relationship with the Obama campaign.” No mention of donors or of him making a political calculation in order to not upset his 2014 chances at all. The interview was the thick sludge that gathers at the nexus of media access, money and social class (Maddow and Booker knew each other at Stanford), and it certainly deserved to be called out.

              As compared to Christie, who praised the President’s response to a disaster. Not really the same thing.

              Just wanted to point that out. Thanks for the traffic! You can call it a Dyke-a-lanche.Report

  3. M.A. says:

    No doubt, a good number of social conservatives will perceive such a strategy this way and will stop voting in such overwhelming numbers for the GOP. But here’s the rub: (1) this strategy leaves social conservatives free to push their issues as much as they wish on the local and state level (which is the only level where they can meaningfully succeed in any event), meaning that the most politically active social conservatives will continue to be the core of the GOP’s operations in much of the country;

    This part is indeed true, but the part conservatives/GOP/Teapartiers have been both banking on and fearful of is the idea that some of their pet issues may be nationalized by a Supreme Court ruling or federal law – such as a ruling that DOMA is unconstitutional due to Full Faith and Credit, and therefore marriage equality becomes a de facto reality simply because gays and lesbians can travel to any number of states to receive a valid marriage license.

    and (2) the GOP can afford to lose a substantial chunk of social conservatives from its coalition, as the overwhelming majority of strong social conservatives live in states where the GOP enjoys massive margins.

    While true, I think this misses out on the effects of gerrymandering. In many of the supposedly “red” states, the GOP itself hovers around 40-50% of the population at best, but they control the state legislature and House delegations through the use of rigged districting that packs as many Democrats into as few districts as possible while making the rest of the districts in the state reliably (5-10% registration advantage, plenty to ensure a safe district) GOP. If the GOP has an off year like 2006 or 2008 where most of the Evangelicals and bible humpers stay home, the vulnerability in this strategy becomes readily apparent.

    If the GOP loses 10% of their base by abandoning social issues, there’s a real chance they lose their stranglehold on not just the House but a lot of state houses, and they don’t get another chance at redistricting until 2020.Report

  4. Will H. says:

    I just want to say that I hate the use of the term “RINO.” (in general)
    It codifies everything that is wrong with the GOP these days.Report

    • M.A. in reply to Will H. says:

      Hey, it’s a Republican term.

      If you think it exemplifies everything that is wrong with the GOP these days, I can only heartily agree with you. They’ve driven out all the moderates, and are yet amazed to find that those remaining are seen by the rest of the country as wackos.

      I really wish they had run Perry or one of the other “true conservatives”, because it at very least would have put to rest the notion that a “true conservative” had any shot at winning the election. By this time next week their consensus will be not that their party’s message was the problem, not that party positions are the problem, not that conservative rhetoric was the problem, but they’ll instead have completely become beholden to the idea (just as in 2008) that they nominated a weak candidate.

      Romney will have become “the guy whose turn it was so we went with him against our better judgement”, just like McCain before him, and they will not realize that the real issue is how far away their party positions and rhetoric have skewed from the mainstream.Report

    • KatherineMW in reply to Will H. says:

      Every political party has a word for internal traitors. A level of ideological exclusivity is what makes a political party a party, rather than a random collection of people.

      I agree that the Republicans are drawn the lines too narrowly at this point, to their detriment, but the term itself isn’t the issue in my opinion.Report

  5. MikeSchilling says:

    As disgusting as I found the blasting of Christie, it didn’t seem like a Red State-Blue State issue to me. It was more basic than that — Christie put doing his job as governor and the welfare of his constituents above the goals of The Party, and that’s an unforgivable sin.Report

  6. Burt Likko says:

    I saw images on the TV of appalling destruction on the Jersey shore right af the tail end of a polarizing election. Then I heard a Republican governor say that in the middle of the emergency he didn’t have time for politics and needed to focus on delivering good government to his people. People who weren’t Democrats or Republicans at that point in time so much as they were wet and cold. Then I saw a Federal government send in aid and help and a Democratic President and a Republican Governor doing what theumy could to make those people not wet and cold. And I thought for a day or so that this is how it’s supposed to work. Then I saw Lower Manhattan without power for two weeks and thought “What the F is going on over there?” Made me think a lot less of Andrew Cuomo — fairly or not.

    Then I heard conservative bile being spat at Chris Christie for delivering on the promise Republicans had made — competent, effective, grown-up government bettering the lives of everyone. And it made me think that these people honestly never cared about the other people, the cold wet ones, and instead cared more about a hug. Well, I’ll say it clearly and you can call me a sniveling RINO for it: I’m pro-hug.Report

    • Thanks, Burt. This is exactly right.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Here’s what I’m wondering for those who are pro-hug in Joisey:

      Will they vote for Christie come (whenever)? The democrats who praise Christie for putting partisanship aside and just doing his damn job on behalf of the citizens of New Jersey… will you vote for him?

      Or will you, instead, vote for someone willing to stand up for the Teachers in New Jersey, rather than against them? Will you vote for someone who you can count on to be in Jersey shovelling sidewalks instead of on vacation in Disney World? Will you vote for a Republican?

      Not suggesting that they need to, of course… but it seems to me that a good way to reward politicians who act the way you want politicians to act is to vote for them and a good way to punish them for acting the way you don’t want them to act is to not vote for them (or even vote for the other guy).

      And my suspicion is that the Democrats aren’t going to vote for Christie.

      At the end of the day, does it matter why people aren’t going to vote for Christie?Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

        He got a kind word and a hug from The Boss. Votes pale in comparison.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

          Hey, he’ll be able to look at himself in the mirror and that’s the most important thing in the world, right?Report

          • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

            Seriously, I’m sure his performance will help him with Democrats (even if they still mostly vote for their guy), and I doubt very much that overall it hurts him with Republicans. One of the best things about the low-information voters we like to complain about is that they ignore this inside-baseball crap.

            I rarely vote GOP myself, but Schwarzenegger was a good guy who unfortunately lacked political skills, while Angelides was a fishing crook.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

              I was 100% serious with my comment there. I’m going to try to berate my Jerseyite friends to vote Christie next time.

              I mean, *I* would never vote for the guy. He’s from a real party, after all. I’ve no compunction against trying to get my friends to vote for him, though.

              Of course, if he’s running against Booker, the chance of my changing their minds will be diddly-squat but… hey. We’ll see what happens.Report

      • acoolerclimate in reply to Jaybird says:

        Thought I’d throw in my 2 cents. I live in North Central New Jersey. I normally vote Democrat but Christie has been awesome during the storm. I have to give credit where credit is due. I also like how he tells it like it is, and how he says what he wants. BUT. I cannot and will not vote for Christie. Why? Because he vetoed same sex marriage. We had it in our grasp, passed by the legislature and then one man, without a thought at all, immediately vetoed it. That one person can just take away like that is a crime to me. Before his veto, I wrote him a long letter describing what marriage would mean to me, my family, my friends, and my community. All I got was a form letter back.

        Just my 2 cents, like I said.Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to Jaybird says:

        Are you asking me? At this point, yes, of the names thrown out for 2016 he’s on top of the list. The response to Sandy tells me that when the spit hits the fan, he’s got the skills and the inclination to set the b.s. aside.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Burt Likko says:

          Well, I’m more interested in those in New Jersey given my deep suspicion that, as Tom pointed out, elephants won’t forget.

          He’s a Republican that I quite like. He’s brash, yelly, and comes across as if he’s saying what he thinks (as opposed to saying what he has been trained to say). If, for example, an Akin-Type said some dumb-assed thing about rape, I have little doubt that we’d see Christie red-faced on the television screaming about “baloney”.

          Hell, he also seems like a guy who I wouldn’t mind having a beer with.

          For me to say that about a politician, that’s a hell of a thing.

          If, however, “The Party” won’t support him before the fact, it’ll take either one *MONUMENTAL* grass roots show of support… or he’s going to be stuck running for Governor again.

          And I’m just mulling over the thought about whether he’s going to be the guy that everybody says that they want in a politician who won’t get votes from Republicans because of this thing, and won’t get votes from Democrats because, ew, Republicans.Report

          • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

            There are actual reasons for not liking Christie, particularly for those who are left of center.

            Plus, the last time people voted for a guy because they thought they could have a beer with him didn’t turn out so great.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

              Of course there are. I wouldn’t pretend that there weren’t.

              However, the argument that “you people should vote for this guy that I won’t vote for” is… odd.Report

              • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

                I suppose it is. Who’s making it?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

                Pardon, “you shouldn’t be attacking this politician that I wouldn’t vote for, not on this, anyway”.Report

              • MikeSchilling in reply to Jaybird says:

                So you have no standing to deplore calling Hillary a murderess, because you never vote for Democrats anyway?Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

                “However, the argument that “you people should vote for this guy that I won’t vote for” is… odd.”

                Is anyone making that argument? Or are they saying that shitting on Christie because he had the temerity to not shit on the President is kind of fucked up? Those are two very different things.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

                I’m trying to, for lack of a better term, “monetize” the argument.

                I have come to a tentative conclusion that the liberals who are arguing that the republicans shouldn’t crap on Christie have pretty much all said that they wouldn’t vote for him. The republicans who are arguing that the republicans shouldn’t crap on Christie have said that they would… and the republicans crapping on Christie have pretty much said that they’d be okay with Booker.

                If, at the end of the day, what Christie did will result in Christie not getting re-elected, that will be quite the message.

                If it does get him re-elected, that will send another.

                (I mean, if you believe that getting elected or not elected sends messages.)Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

                Let’s look at it this way (using the ‘data’ you’ve offered here):

                – Some libs like how Christie handled the storm but not enough to make them vote for him
                – Some cons like how Christie handled the storm, bolstering their support for him
                – Some cons dislike how Christe handled the storm, enough to consider voting for someone else (perhaps even a Dem!)

                I don’t think any of those positions are unreasonable. I think it is a bit ridiculous to take the position that Christie’s handling of the storm was wrong because it upped the likelihood of an Obama election; however, if you view an Obama election as bad or worse than a poor storm response, I can understand the calculus.

                It seems to me that you are taking issue with the first point above, namely that liberals/Democrats shouldn’t laud Christie or chastise his detractors for his management of the storm if they aren’t prepared to vote for him. To me, that is a bit assbackwards.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

                namely that liberals/Democrats shouldn’t laud Christie or chastise his detractors for his management of the storm if they aren’t prepared to vote for him.

                Not at all. People should cheer or boo whomever they want. Indeed, I cheer some things Obama has done and boo others (and the same was true for Dubya).

                In this case, the argument “you shouldn’t be booing that! You should be cheering it!” is one that makes me wonder if the person cheering would have voted for the guy… and if the person booing would have voted for the guy.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

                Well, you described cheering-folks-who-wouldn’t-vote-for-him as odd. What’s odd about it?

                I’m sure there are at least some among those who are a bit too gleeful about an opportunity to stick it to their conservative enemies by cheering on one of their own in his support of their President. But I think the vast majority said, “Hey, say what you will about the guy… he’s handling this great and I won’t pretend otherwise!” At least, that is how my family members in NJ summed it up. And I don’t think that’s odd at all.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

                Fair enough. I’m interested in seeing what the narrative of his re-election (or Booker’s election) will end up being.

                Surely the most important Gubernatorial election New Jersey will ever have had.Report

              • Burt Likko in reply to Kazzy says:

                Some cons dislike how Christe handled the storm, enough to consider voting for someone else (perhaps even a Dem!)

                I don’t think that’s the read. Cons don’t criticize Christie’s handling of the storm and oversight of the response to it. There seems to be near-universal recognition that Christie did a good job with that. The cons’ criticism that Christie stopped being an advocate for Romney a week before the election. They dislike that Christie offered up effusive praise for Obama. What they’re criticizing is The Hug.

                What Anti-Hug cons seem to think Christie should have done instead is, well, unclear. Should Christie have turned down the Federal aid outright? Obviously not. Should Christie have accepted the Federal aid, but blown the President off, given him the cold shoulder? He’s, um, the President. You don’t blow the President off. Should he have had the presser, but tried to thread the needle, by saying something like, “On behalf of the citizens of my state, thank you for all this great aid and help in our hour of need, Mr. President, but I still think people should vote you out of office,” with a dead-fish handshake? That would have left everyone saying of Christie, “What a world-class asshole!” Yes, there are people who think Christie is a world-class asshole already. But a lot of other people had no opinion on that issue one way or another and I don’t think that loyalty to party requires Christie to immolate his own credibility in such a fashion.

                Me, I’m pro-hug. I can see no rational relationship between The Hug and the outcome of the election. That is because I never believed in Karl Rove and his “feelings”, and instead I believed in Nate Silver and his “math.” The Hug didn’t influence a damn thing, Obama was well on his way to victory before Sandy made landfall and cons who sincerely believed to the contrary were suffering from the effects of drinking too much of Roger Ailes’ and Dick Morris’ Kool-Aid.

                The Hug sent a message that Republicans and Democrats can indeed work together when the situation demands. This is why I think there is so much pushback on The Hug from hyper-partisans — because for them, the idea of four more years of Obama is a worse prospect than FEMA screwing the pooch in New Jersey the way it screwed the pooch in Louisiana a few years ago, which if you ask me is a downright perverse result to this whole line of thought. But as for me, I’m pro-Hug. I like both Christie and Obama better for it.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:


                I was using “storm response” to capture everything that happened in its wake. You’re right that he’s gotten near universal support for what he actually did for his constituents. As Mark has made clear, I think the way in which he interacted with the President was part of what made the overall response go as well as it did. If advocating for Christie to have given Obama the cold shoulder or whatever else they wanted him to do, they are de facto advocating that he provided more poorly for his constituents, even if they don’t mean to say as much.


                It will be interesting to see the narratives that are constructed during the next race, especially if he faces off against Booker. But none of that changes the reality of what most liberals who came out in support of Christie were saying: This guy is doing a damn fine job and I’ll say so regardless of what party he’s with.Report

              • Scott Fields in reply to Kazzy says:

                The Hug sent a message that Republicans and Democrats can indeed work together when the situation demands.

                Burt – Impacts to this specific election aside, I think the idea that cooperative, practical, good governance at the federal level is anathema to the hyperpartisans. The Katrina response confirmed their narrative where the Sandy response does not.Report

              • Scott Fields in reply to Kazzy says:

                “idea that” should be “idea of”


            • DensityDuck in reply to Chris says:

              Clinton? Most people point to the late Nineties as a New Golden Age.Report

            • Mike Schilling in reply to Chris says:

              I’d love to have a beer with Romney, just to watch him pretend that he’d like to drink it.Report

          • zic in reply to Jaybird says:

            Well, I’m more interested in those in New Jersey given my deep suspicion that, as Tom pointed out, elephants won’t forget.

            He’s a Republican that I quite like.

            Pronoun usually refers back to the last named person; but I presume you really mean Christie with that ‘he?’

            I sorta like him too, particularly his communication style. You KNEW you should evacuate. He told folks to bring their pets, too. That’s some awesome bighearted thoughtfulness. For people under stress, at risk of losing everything, those pets are also part of the family.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to zic says:

              I like everybody.

              In this case, “he” referred to Christie.Report

            • Mike Schilling in reply to zic says:

              It was actually a thing during Katrina that people didn’t go with the rescuers because pets weren’t allowed. I read (and now can’t find) an account by a private group that went out specifically to rescue pets and their owners that was.just amazingly touching.Report

          • Mark Thompson in reply to Jaybird says:

            I can say with confidence that I will be voting for him. I voted for the third party guy in 2009, as you may recall, who seemed to have pulled his 5-6% support primarily from likely Christie voters. Christie isn’t going to have to worry about a third party challenge like that this time. Christie’s approval ratings have always been very strong, and have pretty regularly exceeded the all important 50% threshold. Politicians in any situation do not usually lose when they have approval numbers over 50 percent. I expect that his approval number since the storm will prove to be in the stratosphere, though it will surely come down from that number by next November. Also keep in mind that NJ’s election is in an odd year, so turnout is always quite low, which usually helps Republicans.

            I don’t expect most Democrats to switch sides to support him, but he only really needs a small number to do so to win. I have a hard time seeing anyone not named Cory Booker beating him next year, and even against Booker it’ll be even odds.

            One thing is for certain, though- I have yet to hear a single conservative in this state -and they do exist-make the complaint conservatives nationally are making.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Mark Thompson says:

              I have yet to hear a single conservative in this state -and they do exist-make the complaint conservatives nationally are making.

              That’s an important data point as well. Thank you.Report

              • Mark Thompson in reply to Jaybird says:

                Also, I just did some digging. It turns out there is some fairly recent polling on a hypothetical Booker-Christie matchup from early September and again in mid-October, so before the storm. In that polling, Christie has a respectable 4-7 point lead over Booker, which is significant given that Booker is just as known a commodity as Christie. That makes Christie a slight favorite in that matchup even before the storm hit. Former Acting Governor and President of the State Senate Richard Codey does slightly worse than Booker against Christie, and then other potential challengers trail by huge margins.Report

              • Michael Drew in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                I’d want to be up on a force-of-nature-type guy like Booker (even being one myself) a little more than 4-7 points before the campaign even starts – before the primary even starts! – if I’m Christie. But it’s still a lead.Report

              • I agree, which is why I think he’s only a slight favorite.

                Assuming for the moment that it’s Booker vs. Christie, though, whoever loses will probably get a very nice consolation prize if they want it: there should be a Senate seat up for grabs in 2014.Report

              • Michael Drew in reply to Mark Thompson says:


          • NewDealer in reply to Jaybird says:

            “Hell, he also seems like a guy who I wouldn’t mind having a beer with.”

            Completely random but I never got why this always gets touted as a plus among the pundit class What characteristics make someone the kind of guy people would want to have a beer with?

            Conversely, I would enjoy getting a beer with Gore or Kerry, the unbeer candidates. Perhaps this says something about me. I think they would provide smart conversation.Report

            • I’ve always viewed it as being an alternative way of saying “understands people like me.”Report

            • Will Truman in reply to NewDealer says:

              Conversely, I would enjoy getting a beer with Gore or Kerry, the unbeer candidates. Perhaps this says something about me. I think they would provide smart conversation.

              Not just you. If you remove the fact that Bush actually was president, which makes him inherently more interesting, Gore and Kerry struck me as more interesting on a personal level and people that I have more in common with outside of political inclinations.Report

              • NewDealer in reply to Will Truman says:

                Cool but this was always during the election. During the 2000 and 2004 elections, I would always hear the pundit class say that Bush was “the kind of guy you could get a beer with”

                My thought was always the same, I’d rather get a beer with Gore or Kerry. They seemed to have the ability for intellectual bar talk that undergrads and grad students love.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to NewDealer says:

                Yeah, though at least in the case of Kerry it still holds (Bush as president, Kerry as maybe-a-president or at least not-president-yet). I’m picking nits, though. My point was that I am with you on this and that while I understood why Bush (and Clinton before him) was the beer candidate, I never felt it much myself.Report

      • Scott Fields in reply to Jaybird says:

        I think after Christie’s response to Sandy, he’ll win re-election handily and with NJ being a Deep Blue state that’ll mean a lot of votes from Democrats.

        There will no doubt be the ~40% hard-core left partisans who will never go Red, but that is immaterial.Report

  7. zic says:

    Nice, nice post.

    I don’t want to go to tangent, but I really wanted to share this piece from NPR’s Newshour last night:

    Teacher’s going to kids home, bringing blankest, finding out what the family needs. Little kids, seeing their teacher at the door with aid and concern. Sometimes, things are bigger then politics and ideology. And it’s a small, mean-spirited person who fails to see that.Report

  8. Rufus F. says:

    Yeah, I’m still a bit surprised by Virginia. That’s the home of the Moral Majority, Liberty University, etc. etc.! I wonder how much of them going blue had to do with George Allen’s foot and mouth.Report

  9. Will Truman says:

    I may try to put together a post on this, but I wanted to say that there is a lot of truth here, but a few things that I disagree with.

    First, the Red State Blue State thing was neither a Republican invention nor something they were much more likely to exploit than the other side. Republicans actually preferred the “Bush Country” county-by-county map, which at the time showed an ocean of red and islands of blue (still does, but less so).

    When 2004 rolled around, it seemed that it was more liberals using it than conservatives. Think the Jesusland/USCanada map. Party supporters – if not the party itself – were perfectly willing to tell the states that voted wrong to go to hell. Then the shoe changed in 2008. Everyone saw it coming. Sarah Palin was the exemplar of regional defiance. If the map shifts, we can expect to hear more and more about the mooching and ungrateful Red States that decline to learn their place.

    To at least some extent, I find the red states’ higher reliance on the map to be understandable. I detest the “Real America” talk, but I consider it to be first and foremost a defensive posture. Culture, politics (except for some scraps thrown our way), and so on tend to be driven by the coasts. Cities are our future, ruralia our past. That this provokes a Palinesque response is not surprising. When you’re not driving, you take solace in your authenticity.

    I couldn’t agree more with regard to the Republican punditry’s criticisms of Chris Christie. Yes, Christie’s comments came at an inopportune time… but so did Sandy. I also think your comments about blue state suburbs is exactly on target.Report

    • Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

      1) You weren’t on DailyKos during 2004, were you? I can guarantee you that anyone who DARED think about cutting the red states loose got shot down HARD. That was the year we were running Webb and Tester, not just Lamont. And Markos was giving them a HELL of a lotta love.
      Pundits like shit that simplifies things. I’ve found remarkable correlations between assholery and how republican a district is… but that’s not the redstate/bluestate map. Nor is it the rural/urban map. It’s picking out particular counties, and saying “stay the hell out of there.” Kinda like 88.
      2) McCain actively sent a ton of money near the end of his election to Montana and ND, so that they would stay red. Republicans like the redstate/bluestate map, as it makes them seem bigger than the Dems.

      “Real America” is a xenophobic stance. Is Racism now a defensive posture?Report

      • M.A. in reply to Kim says:

        Republicans like the redstate/bluestate map, as it makes them seem bigger than the Dems.

        I always find it amusing that the states and counties most likely to stay “red” are the ones with more cows per square mile than people.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Kim says:

        Regarding #1, I should have added that one of the big differences between the parties is that the Democratic Party apparatus never gave in to the temptation of solidification (except with regards to the South as an entity – but even there, they saw exceptions). So thank you for reminding me to mention that. I was primarily remarking that the Jesusland map didn’t come out of nowhere. The map is a good way for people to vent frustration after a loss.

        Regarding #2, McCain did worse in those states than did Romney, and not by a little. Montana elected a Democratic slate (more or less) both times. Republicans prefer the county map to the state map, as it makes them seem absolutely dominant. Red State and Blue State became shorthand across the board, as far as I can see.

        Regarding (unnumbered) #3, whether Real America is xenophobic or not is subject to debate. It is, however, a demonstration of defiance from a part of America thought of as flyover country or an afterthought, to the extent that they are thought of at all. Even Fox News is a coastal organization without much interest in middle America except as a part of the coalition.Report

        • Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

          *snort* for 1) I was going more for the Democratic base (netroots)…

          Would you say “real america” is mere nostalgia? Because I read a level of contempt there…Report

          • Will Truman in reply to Kim says:

            It was contempt in the same way that 99%ism is contempt for the 1%. The target has as much to do with with whites from San Francisco and Manhattan than it does with immigrants in Stockton. It’s the defensive posture of a group of people who see themselves as being seen as insignificant by the more powerful coasts, metropolitan areas, and cultural centers.Report

            • Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

              *nods* I still see it as xenophobianism, drawing a lot from the Scotch Irish and Cavalier cultural lineage. I’m not trying to say that is -completely and totally- racism. It’s rather the reverse, actually. Often the racism is an outgrowth of the xenophobianism.Report

    • Mike Dwyer in reply to Will Truman says:


      “Cities are our future, ruralia our past.”

      I would ammend this to say, “metropolitan areas are our future”. We’re going to see the lines between cities and rural areas get increasingly blurry in the coming years. It’s already happening. Suburbs and exurbs are bridging that gap in some places to create an almost seamless transition. I live right in the middle of it, which is why we chose that place to buy a house.Report

      • Kim in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        lol. When gas prices double, you tell me if the gap is still getting bridged. Transportation costs (average) in my metro are at $1,000 a month, for the average household. This is nearly double what’s spent on housing… What do you suppose we get when gas goes up?
        And Priuses do NOT work well here… it’s all the hills.Report

        • Mike Dwyer in reply to Kim says:

          “Transportation costs (average) in my metro are at $1,000 a month, for the average household. “

          Time to move Kim. We live in the exurbs and we clock in around $500.Report

          • Kim in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            Lay me the numbers, Mike.
            Because I really, really don’t believe you.
            Is that $500 just for gas? including insurance? including repair bills? including (replacement) cost of car? including tires/regular maintenance?

            I mean, I know PA has the second highest rate of getting hit by deer, but that can’t possibly be a 100% differential!

            (also, do you have two cars?)Report

            • Mike Dwyer in reply to Kim says:

              My bad – I thought you were talking about just gas. But wouldn’t most of the other things be roughly the same even living closer? Most families have two cars, insurance is not really based on mileage, etc.Report

              • Kim in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                My point’s the same as Michael’s below. I don’t have a car (do use zipcar, so you can call my monthly car bill at $75, if you really want. fairer would be to say $30, as that’s what’s needed for survival.), and it’s not necessary in the city.

                I see the return to streetcar suburbs, and the city itself, strengthening as gas prices go up, and as the value of suburban housing degrades dramatically, vis urban housing (maybe this is more true up north? I know “builder grade” *cough* substandard *cough* got used on tons of developments in the past thirty years, but the old homes are generally pretty decently put together. It was my impression that the South had generally inferior builders, even in the cities.)Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Kim says:


                I disagree completely. The suburbs have been growing for nearly 70 years. That trend isn’t changing and it’s not just residential either. Businesses have been relocating to the suburbs for a long time. I refuse to believe that incremental increases in gas prices are going to cause a mass-return to city centers. If anything it will prompt the creation of more satellite communities, which we are seeing already.

                As for the quality of builders in the South, I have no idea what that means.Report

              • Kim in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                … maybe where you’re from. AFAIK, Pittsburgh Metro’s been steadily losing population from 1970’s-2000’s, judging by the census. (last census had us edging up)

                IKEA can’t function without a world-class airport. Likewise, businesses are also going to be hit by transportation costs. Particularly if we stop subsidizing our road network so much.

                Satellite communities are also a possibility, I’m not trying to discount that. It may depend on what kind of workforce you’ve got. Some people like cities. a lot.

                An idle question, mostly, and no slight intended. Since you’ve bought a house, I assume you have some skill in evaluating the quality of a building. I was wondering what the older buildings looked like, in terms of quality of construction…Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Kim says:

                It depends on the year. If you buy something from the first half of the 20th century, the ‘bones’ of the house are probably better but you’ll spend and additional $100K getting it modernized (expanding rooms, replacing out-dated features, etc).

                Stuff from the 1950s – 1990s are probably your sweet spot in terms of quality vs. minimal need for updating. Getting into the 2000s it just depends on the builder.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Kim says:

                maybe where you’re from. AFAIK, Pittsburgh Metro’s been steadily losing population from 1970?s-2000?s, judging by the census. (last census had us edging up

                Which makes Pittsburgh quite unusual. Especially with regard to housing costs. I was stunned when I saw how inexpensive it was out there. I mean, it makes sense, but it was still a surprise. Pittsburgh’s prices make living in town a lot more affordable, I’d gather.Report

              • Kim in reply to Kim says:

                Are your first half of the 20th century houses really that small? 900 sq. ft? Or something more like 1500 sq. ft.? Because I don’t really see much need for folks to expand a 1500 sq ft. place, even with kids.

                $20,000 for a better wiring job…
                $5,000 for air sealing…
                $20,000 for “new kitchen”

                … I’m not getting $100,000… (and the wiring may still need to be done for newer houses).Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Kim says:


                Average size for most early-20th century homes is 1,000 – 1,200 square feet. Most familes today want something closer to 2,000 sq feet.

                Also, kitchens don’t meet modern standards of spaciousness. It’s just about transforming the house into something livable within modern standards.Report

              • Kim in reply to Kim says:

                My kitchen is 6×9. It was redesigned by a professional chef. It’s plenty spacious for two people to work (and there’s the dining room if you have the kids helping)Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Kim says:

                Which makes Pittsburgh quite unusual. Especially with regard to housing costs.

                Might have something to do with that declining population base. 😉Report

              • Kim in reply to Kim says:

                Yes! Supply and demand, who knew?
                (It’s interesting that the marketplace of housing functions as well as it does, with remarkably little regulation…isn’t it?)Report

          • Will Truman in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            Actually, Kim’s numbers are as much indicative of the low cost of housing in her area.

            Back where I lived previously, with a 40-mile commute each way with poor mileage because it was city driving, gas prices would have had to go up to almost $14 a gallon for it to equal the cost of housing. Of course, total cost of ownership is different. Throw in insurance, the cost of the car and maintenance, you’re looking at no less than $7. That’s with a long stop-start commute, which a lot of suburbanites don’t actually have to do. And, of course, the blur Mike refers to includes employers in the suburbs.Report

            • Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

              Do you consider yourself to have an abnormally expensive house? Remember I’m talking in the aggregate… As well we should be. I can still see plenty of exurbs for rich folks (okay, upper middle class). It’s the middle class and lower class that I see moving back to the city.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Kim says:

                Not for the area. Where I am now, or in the south, it’d be considered expensive. For where it was, it was discounted due to being in a bad neighborhood and relatively inexpensive. Roughly $1000k a month.

                (It also wasn’t in a suburb, but it was a drive long enough to be in one and the 40-mile drive was reasonably typical for the region for those that did live “out there” a ways. I haven’t lived in the suburbs for years – I have historically found myself living in an urban center and driving to the suburbs, or driving from one urb to another. That’s another story. A quick look at housing prices in the exurbs of the city demonstrate that they are pretty similar.)Report

              • Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

                Did you have the option of taking a bus/other form of public transit?Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Kim says:

                I did not. At least, not without driving, parking, getting on a bus, riding, getting off, connecting on another bus, and riding some more. The trip would have taken a shade under 2 hours each way. Driving was typically 3 hours round trip in traffic or 2 hours after I got to timeshift to avoid traffic.Report

              • Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

                Oy, vai. to think, you were giving up so much of your free time…
                (my last job I routinely walked to work…)Report

              • Why yes, yes I was. It was kind of frustrating to live in the shadow of downtown in three different places only to commute to somewhere else. But it was a marital decision. I made the drive so that my wife didn’t have to.Report

            • Mike Dwyer in reply to Will Truman says:

              I agree with your assesment Will. In my city if you want to live in cheaper housing than the suburbs you would have to go to some rough areas of town that aren’t very desirable. All the nice homes are significantly more expensive ($350K vs. $180K for comparible square footage).

              The suburbs offer a variety of housing prices AND generally safer communites. I drive 50 miles round-trip to work with almost no stops. $50/week in gas. Slightly less for my wife’s car.Report

              • Kim in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                I’m not saying finding cheaper housing than the suburbs, fwiw. I’m saying that it can be cheaper to live in the city, if you skip out on the cars (it’s the San Francisco model).

                And I think that most people buy too much house. We have places in my city where 9 people used to live, now with three people living in them. (yeah, that’s partially the ethnicities involved).

                Living outside the city isn’t safer around here (for a white person, anyway). I often wonder if folks actually run the statistics before saying “living in the city is more dangerous” What can I say, I live one county north of Fayettenam… (and that’s the State Trooper’s nickname, not mine!)Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Kim says:

                I just don’t know how that would work for a lot of people. I have very few friends that work in the city-proper. I work in the suburbs so I take the loop road 25 miles around to the other side of the metro area. My wife works in the city but not in an area we would want to live.

                For us it’s also more about the lack of traffic (better-deisgned roads), the greater elbow room, the proximity to rural areas (hunting, farmer’s markets) and low crime. Those are things you can’t fix with policy.Report

              • Kim in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                “lack of traffic” is certainly fixable by policy. our farmers markets operate in the city (people will pay a premium for it being walkable), and I think you can “fix” crime with policy (*teases* abortion! Just.Kidding.)Report

              • Kim in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                We have a few satellite areas, like Cranberry, where there are substantial jobs. But people tend to live there.
                Pittsburgh is an EXTREMELY difficult city to “drive around”, so it tends to reinforce where you live (we have 3 costcos. to philadelphia’s 1.)

                Also, one of our large “not downtown” employment-places is still well within the city.

                I think there are substantial arguments to keeping everything centralized (it really is more efficient that way), but that the amount of centralization is likely to depend on how “well-placed” a city was in the first place (rivertowns/ports in general have a high advantage).Report

      • We’re going to see the lines between cities and rural areas get increasingly blurry in the coming years.

        Oddly enough, I would have argued the opposite, but that may just be the metropolitan area where I live. The Denver area’s light rail system (plus the higher gas prices I anticipate over the years) is going to exaggerate the differences. Whether you live inside or outside the reach of the light-rail system will be a defining characteristic in future years. Most of the metropolitan areas in the West have at least started light-rail systems. Even Las Vegas is now talking about one.Report

        • We don’t have light rail so it’s hard for me to follow I guess, but aren’t there easy-access points for folks that live outside the rail line? I’m picturing something like the loop roads almost all metropolitcan areas have.

          I’m also less sold on the ability of light rail to significantly impact behavior patterns. Americans like the autonomy that cars give them. It’s why commuter flights became less popular after 9/11.Report

          • Kim in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            people becoming steadily poorer (in available cash), plus a few recessions might also have had something to do with that. also, the mass flight of the rich to private jets.Report

            • Mike Dwyer in reply to Kim says:

              The people I know that travel city-to-city regularly used to use comuter flights. I was talking to a local judge last week who used to commute to St.Louis via Southwest Airlines before 9/11. He said with the post-9/11 complications it wasn’t worth the trouble. Two of my managers at work drive for anything under 500 miles for pretty much the same reason.Report

          • Denver is a peculiar case for the ring road. Back in the 1970s, the then-governor turned down federal money to build the interstate ring because it would contribute too much to sprawl. The metro area got the sprawl anyway, but without the convenience of the ring road. Over the last 20 years three-quarters of the ring has been built anyway. One quarter of it is freeway and heavily used (ie, it’s a parking lot at rush hour if even the smallest thing goes wrong). The other two quarters are toll road (five bucks from end-to-end) so very few people use it regularly. A tiny bit of the last quarter was constructed — also a toll road, with the tolls steadily increasing because there’s not enough traffic to generate the revenue to pay off the bonds. The remainder is unlikely to get built in my lifetime as the possible routes are constrained by a former nuclear weapons site and the mountains. Large amounts of private already-developed property will have to be condemned and the thing would probably cost on the order of $10M per lane-mile.

            Light rail in Denver is already drawing more daily passengers than any of the forecasts. Ridership will go up by a bunch in six months or so when the next line opens. That one parallels one of the few ways to go east-west across the metro area and will be popular. Then another big jump in 2016 when two more suburban lines open up plus the line to the airport. At least in the western suburbs, the question you hear people ask isn’t “Is light rail a good idea?” but rather “When the heck is the light rail line close to me opening?” Interesting that light rail has been a substantially Western phenomenon; I gathered some simple ridership statistics here earlier this year. The BosWash urban corridor, Chicago, Atlanta, and then mostly a bunch of Western cities.

            I don’t think people are going to give up their cars, but there will be changes. Certainly once the 2016 lines are up and running, I will tend to ride rather than drive downtown or to the airport.Report

    • I don’t disagree with any of this, but it somewhat misunderstands the purpose of my use of the Red State/Blue State issue. I’m mostly getting at the fact that conservatives basically write off Blue States as unreachable and unworthy of consideration when it is conservatives who most desperately need to make inroads in non-Red States. Liberals may well be guilty of acting similarly towards Red States, but they can afford to – the electoral college favors Democrats dramatically, and has done so for quite awhile. Despite Bush winning two elections, he did so with literally no margin for error – to win, he needed to run two very good campaigns against two fairly weak candidates.

      This is a problem that’s only getting worse, too – while Romney was surely not the world’s strongest candidate, he ran a very good campaign in a terrible economy, yet still lost decisively in the electoral college. Indeed, were it not for the polling clearly demonstrating otherwise and all other things being equal, Michael Barone would have been quite justified in anticipating a Romney landslide by just pointing to the fundamentals of the election. Except all things weren’t, and aren’t, equal because, between California, New York, and the EV-rich northeast, Democrats have a giant structural advantage in the electoral college.

      Meanwhile, Texas is just a few years away from again being competitive for Democrats. The GOP simply cannot afford to view the country in Red State/Blue State terms any longer if it wants to have any margin for error in national elections.Report

      • Kim in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        +1. The dems never really wrote off the Red States (except maybe way back in the 80’s early 90’s. dunno, wasn’t around for that).Report

      • The structural disadvantage of the Republicans in the EC is an interesting subject and what I hope to write a post about it. In case I don’t…

        I don’t see this as, in and of itself, a longstanding problem. The issue is that they’ve lost the swing states. Republicans have nothing against the Purple States and do want to win them over. This ultimately brings us back to the demographic question. Not just the demographics as they pertain to racial composition, but self-image among whites. The EC problem strikes me as a result of this, rather than a real driving factor.

        Texas – and the prospect of possibly losing it at some point down the line – is indicative of this. Losing Texas isn’t an EC problem, ultimately, but the sign of a national popularity problem. If they’ve lost Texas, they’ve lost the national vote every bit as much as the Electoral College.Report

        • I don’t know that I can agree with this. To continue using NJ as an example, since I know it best…..this used to be an extremely reliable GOP state, but also a state with a unique political history (we voted for McClellan!) and subject to wild swings in its national loyalties – we went for Reagan by 14 points in 1980, 21(!) in 1984, for Bush by 14 in 1988, but just 8 years later, we went for Clinton by 18 points after being, in effect, a conservative-leaning toss-up in 1992. That’s a 32 point swing in just 8 years, even though the character of the state basically didn’t change at all during that time, and frankly hasn’t even changed much since. Yet somehow we are now viewed as an ungettable, incorrigible, “Deep Blue” state. I suspect the same is true of Connecticut as well since, like NJ, it’s long been a giant suburb of two major cities.

          Several of the so-called “Purple” states from 2000 are now just as Blue as NJ and Connecticut. If the GOP just focuses on trying to recapture the “Purple” states from 2000 that haven’t gone as Deep Blue as Oregon and Washington, they need to win all or almost all of them to win an election.

          If, on the other hand, they go back to remembering the old axiom about all politics being local, then it won’t take much to put quite a bit of the northeast back in play – along with the aforementioned “Purple” states – and thereby give themselves a real margin for error.Report

          • Kim in reply to Mark Thompson says:

            +1. New Jersey’s a funny, funny state. The only think New Jersey hates worse than its Democratic politicians is its Republican politicians.
            (and for all I bitch about PA’s pols, yours are (mostly) worse).Report

          • Well, we agree on tactics, if not entirely on rationale.

            You are right that the GOP does keep looking at the bare minimum of EV’s that they need and maybe that is more a cause of their current problem than I give it credit for.

            (It’s actually part of a long-term observation of mine about what Republicans often mean when they say “bipartisan” and what Democrats sometimes mean when they use the same word.)Report

            • Thinking on this a bit more (and this is going to be my last word on this, as I’ve got stuff to do), I think part of the problem is that conservatives don’t understand the extent to which Bill Clinton succeeded in making moderates into partisan Democrats (and, relatedly, making the Democrats into the party of moderates).

              It’s still Bill Clinton’s world; the rest of us are just living in it. Until the GOP figures out how to beat the ghost of Bill Clinton, not just his wooden subordinate, it will continue to have no room for error.Report

      • Mr. Blue in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        Meanwhile, Texas is just a few years away from again being competitive for Democrats.

        Not if the Texas Democratic Party has anything to say about it.Report

    • NewDealer in reply to Will Truman says:

      The Bush County map is rather misleading as well. Yes it shows that most places are red and that there are just islands of blue. Someone looking at the map might think that the Democratic Party is the minority by a long shot.

      Except….That those islands of blue tend to be the major metropolitan areas of the United States with a bulk of the population. Even in Texas, the little islands of blue tend to be cities like Austin and San Antonio. Dallas and Houston seem more mixed politically.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to NewDealer says:

        The Bush County map is extremely misleading. Far, far moreso than the state map. I never meant to suggest otherwise. But the degree to which it makes the GOP look like a majority is precisely why they love it.Report

      • M.A. in reply to NewDealer says:

        The problem with the R’s seems to be that they cannot separate geography from population density. I’m convinced they have some mental block or defect preventing this.

        They see this map and declare themselves to have a lock on the country and be the “Real America.” What this misses is that most of that big, red area is EMPTY. As in, a dozen people in a county outnumbered by the cows empty.

        Reality, what the D’s were working with, looks a lot more like this.Report

    • greginak in reply to Will Truman says:

      I know we’re coming from different places on Red State reliance on Real America talk. I can see some of it being defensive, but there has always been a strong feeling in Red States that they were the Real Americans. Always. Obama is the usurper and D’s are foreign; those are new expressions of old feelings in Red States.

      Apropos of this discussion Paul Ryan blames the “urban vote” on why the R’s lost. Well yeah, if you lose the place where most people live then you are well and truly boned. But its not hard to read Urban as a code for black and latino or a most sinister “those people” just can’t see out brilliant clear light.Report

      • Michelle in reply to greginak says:

        Yeah, Ryan’s comment about losing because of the urban vote is pretty indicative of the Republican party’s obtuseness. Too many of the wrong people voting. I guess the Republicans will need to double down on their suppression efforts next go round.

        Ryan is such a clueless little prick.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to greginak says:

        Maybe I need to see more context on the remarks, but losing the urban vote was a big part of their problem. I’d have focused on the loss of the suburban vote, but if someone were so inclined they could pretty easily turn that around to “See, Trumwill just dismisses the minority vote outright because he thinks the only votes that matter are in the lilly-white suburbs.” (Not that you would say that, but it’s not a far leap if someone were inclined to dislike me.)Report

        • greginak in reply to Will Truman says:

          I think its a bit of a R problem ( not yours) that they do actually dismiss minority votes. I’ll cut Ryan some slack since he is obviously shell shocked by his own campaigns blindness and lack of situational awareness about how they were doing. I do know how the “urban voters” line will be heard by lots of people in urban areas and on the Lib side. If you add in the voter suppression( the actual stuff) attempted by R’s this cycle it just shows how far the R’s have to go just to earn some trust.Report

          • Will Truman in reply to greginak says:

            Oh, sure. Some of it is circling, though. The stuff that is bad makes stuff that is observational into something bad.

            Speaking from the experience of someone that used to be involved in party politics specifically in the area of outreach and bringing the party around to the idea that outreach is necessary, it’s one of the things that makes outreach *really* difficult. The problems on our own side, and the sneering of the relatively innocuous to the point that communication itself becomes difficult.

            There’s sort of an “If we’re going to be racists anyway…”

            Not that that’s the Democrats’ problem, but it’s one of the challenges faced by people from within the party aiming to change it.Report

            • I want to emphasize that I am not trying to diminish the GOP’s primary and central role on this. I guess I’m sorta saying that even when we get beyond this and we have leadership that “gets it” (as we had, temporarily, in my state from roughly 2000-2003)… we run into this other problem.Report

      • KatherineMW in reply to greginak says:

        It’s a funny thing about America that “urban” is so often taken to mean “ethnic”. In Canada “urban policy” means things like more bike lanes, better transit routes, walkable neighbourhoods, and dealing with homelessness. (Which are, truly, not issues that favour conservatives.)Report

      • Chris in reply to greginak says:

        To be honest, I thought this was one of those cases where Ryan was making a simple point about where the voters were coming from, particularly when he referenced the map. What he meant that, as they were seeing Virginia and Ohio’s results come in, it was the cities in Northern Virginia and Northern Ohio that were costing them those states.Report

  10. Mike Dwyer says:

    James / New Dealer,

    “I’m sorry to say I can’t actually answer that question with any precision. I only know that what Democrats think they’re saying and what non-urban white men (that’s a loose categorization, of course) think they’re hearing are two very different things. I don’t want to put Mike Dwyer on the spot, but I think he might be in a much better position to put some specifics on that than I am.”

    I’m probably not the best person to answer this because as we often say here, we’re all hyper-engaged in this process moreso than the average person. With that said, the thing I hear, and my friends echo, is that Democrats are so interested in helping the downtrodden than they ignore everyone else. If I was a voter that was inclined to want something in return for my vote then as someone that is somewhere in the upper half of the middle class, a college graduate, married, employed, lives near good schools, low crime, homeowner, etc…there’s not much they are offering me. What we end up really want is to just be left alone and that means, quit talking about raising taxes. Even if they say it’s on the top 1% we all believe that they will expand on it sooner or later.Report

  11. Patrick Cahalan says:

    Regarding the commuting thing going back-and-forth upthread:

    Los Angeles has a hate-hate relationship with public transportation, but the city planners are slowly forcing it down the public’s throat, and as people adopt it they become surprisingly happy with it in short order.

    The coverage is still bad, but it gets better every year (there’s just a lot of bad areas to get to that need lots more “better”).

    10 years ago, nobody – and I mean nobody – who lived in the foothill cities took public transportation to downtown LA. Today, they do. They bike, they take their local bus, and they get on the rail and go downtown. As more people do this, Union Station <-> downtown destination transport networks crop up. That one guy in the office that drives swings buy Union Station and picks up the four who don’t, and they buy his Starbucks for the day. Stuff like that.

    But adoption of all these things doesn’t happen overnight, it runs in spurts and blocks as the underlying transportation grid gets more robust.Report

    • Kim in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

      *takes note* hmm… LA may at some point become liveable, I will remember this. (driving in LA traffic is not in my version of liveable!)Report

      • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Kim says:

        It’s not mine, either. My commute is 2 miles.

        But I know people who bought houses in Monrovia, who work in downtown, who bought those houses in Monrovia because they can train to work.

        10 years ago, Monrovia would have been completely off the radar of “places I can buy a house”.

        Now, LA moves like a glacier when it comes to this stuff, but it does move.Report

    • James Hanley in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

      The coverage is still bad,

      I think L.A. will always struggle with that, because it wasn’t built for public transport. Unlike Chicago, NY, Boston, it has no true downtown, no one place where a vast part of the population goes each day. Too many routes have to go from lightly populated to lightly populated area. I think they’re doing a pretty good job, given that inherent difficulty.

      10 years ago, nobody – and I mean nobody – who lived in the foothill cities took public transportation to downtown LA.
      So my wife and I are nobodies? Harumph.Report

  12. Mike Dwyer says:


    “MikeD, Thurmond was the only Dixiecrat senator the GOP took in: the rest remained Democrats, such as Al Gore’s father. Regardless of the actual history, how do you propose the GOP apologize for taking Thurmond in, who reformed just as much as the Democrat in good standing and future Senate Majority leader, the former Klansman Robert Byrd who also filibustered the Civil Rights Act?”

    Well hell Tom, I forgot that when the Civil Rights Act was signed blacks suddenly gained equal standing in society! You seem to be basing your whole point on the idea that all of that went away in the 60s. It didn’t.

    I’m not saying I agree with them on every point, but you do realize that many blacks feel conservative opposition to social programs, opposition to school integration efforts, support for the drug war and minimum sentencing, etc is a sign of continued racism…right? THAT is why people like Dennis’ father didn’t just forgve and forget after the Dixiecrats went back to the Democratic party. Where the Right hurt themselves with blacs was what they did after 1963..especially during the Reagan years.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      Also, Jesse Helms. The big issue being that the Democrats who stuck around “got with the program” and were willing to lose the voters that entailed. Beyond Thurmond and Helms, the number of southern Democrats that switched to the Republican Party are legion. Because so many of their voters did. Because the Democrats disavowed the policies that had them voting Democratic in the first place.

      That the GOP took Thurmond in isn’t in itself such a big deal. That he and Helms got in under the terms and conditions (or lack thereof) that they did is problematic. The GOP reaped electoral rewards for that, but such things don’t come without costs.

      The best response to the bringing up of Trent Lott and Strom Thurmond isn’t that Thurmond is dead but rather that Lott was forced out of his leadership position. That was a good moment for the party. That the GOP didn’t expedite Thurmond and Helms along the way – they could afford to, electorally speaking, and there was a moral imperative – is a mistake that the party deservedly has to live with and something that the party needs to do what they can to rectify (regardless of whether they are called unreconstructed racists in the meantime).Report

      • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Will Truman says:

        Yup. Robert Byrd was a member of the KKK and in his earlier years, a racist asshole. By his words and deeds, he seemed to legitimately change his ways. Or if he was still a secret racist, he sure as hell didn’t vote or speak like one.

        OTOH, to maximize their voting numbers, the GOP willingly took people who didn’t change their stripes to any large degree. It’s not as if Helms or Thurmond likely wouldn’t have been able to win elections as independents or that some hardcore liberal would’ve won their seat.Report

  13. Mike Dwyer says:

    This is exactly the kind of stuff that kills the GOP when it comes to minorities:

    “Mitt Romney said Wednesday that his loss to President Obama was due in large part to his rival’s strategy of giving “gifts” during his first term to three groups that were pivotal in the results of last week’s election: African Americans, Latinos and young voters.

    “The Obama campaign was following the old playbook of giving a lot of stuff to groups that they hoped they could get to vote for them and be motivated to go out to the polls, specifically the African American community, the Hispanic community and young people,” Romney told hundreds of donors during a telephone town hall Wednesday. “In each case they were very generous in what they gave to those groups.”,0,1719033.story

    While the talking points are sound i.e. entitlement programs are the currency of liberal policy-making, the tone-deafness of the remarks immediately after an election are unhelpful. What do minorities think when they hear this? That’s the kind of stuff that make other outreach efforts so hard.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      Yup. Ryan’s comments didn’t strike me as problematic, but this… sigh. They have to stop doing this.Report

    • greginak in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      Well its a bit more than just tone deaf. Romney was offering plenty of stuff to the people. He was offering tax cuts and to put money back into medicare and to say contraceptives don’t need to be treated like medical care and spend more on defense. Yeah calling out minority groups as bought off when they were likely thinking they were voting in their own interests is clueless. But when R’s offer stuff its no different then when D’s offer stuff.

      It always goes to show something that Dennis, i think, mentioned in the podcast, that R’s just don’t seem interested in offering solutions to many of the problems lots of people have.Report