Muddled Middle: Endangered Species


I’ve already criticized the foolish Democratic strategy of ignoring our base and concentrating on winning the “Muddle-of-the-Road Terminally Undecideds”. A bit more ammunition from over on MyDD (always a wealth of political insight):

… the Bush pollster discovered that the traditional swing voter was fast becoming an endangered species as only 7 percent of the electorate in 2004 had voted independently of party loyalties. …. “Rove instantly recognized the significance of the numbers. ‘Really,’ he said, grabbing the sheet from Dowd’s hands, his voice rising with excitement. ‘Man, this is a fundamental change.'”

So the Republicans have been winning and winning by energizing their base and getting them out to vote, and the Democrats have been consistently losing by running away from their base and running to that vanishing middle. Kerry tried it against Bush (saying he’d do the same things as Bush in Iraq, but somehow it would all work better if a Democrat did it) … and he lost. Jeanne Carnahan tried it against Jim Talent (I still remember her debate with Talent in Columbia where Jeanne said, “But I voted with the President [Bush] 83% of the time!” and Jim responded, “But that’s not good enough”) … and Jeanne lost. And Claire McCaskill lost to Blunt. In fact, running to the middle has never been a winning strategy for Democrats. The only example they try to point to–Bill Clinton–where running to the middle supposedly won is spoiled by the fact that Ross Perot gave the presidency to Clinton by taking 20% of the vote, and taking more from the Republicans than from the Democrats (all protestations from James Carville to the contrary).

The way to win is to run to your base–your core constituency groups, and try to break up the alliance of core constituency groups of the other side … and let the Muddled Middle work themselves out. Losing the votes of the middle 7% is insignificant compared to seeing 20% of your base get sick and tired of being ignored and deciding to sit this one out.

Until Howard Dean came around, the main Democratic strategy was to tell the Unions, Blacks, and Progressives, “You have to come out and work for us. Sure, we’ve done nothing for you, we’ve taken corporate cash and worked for the interests of the corporations and the rich just like the Republicans do. But we’re not as bad as they are, so you have to choose the lesser evil.”

Well, not only has it been a morally corrupt strategy, it has been a loser of a strategy. How many more Democrats have to lose before they stop using it?