Skip to main content

View Diary: THE HILL: Dems Face Revolt Over Free Trade In Advance of Vote (266 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  Your NAFTA history is way off. (6+ / 0-)

    "...when you consider that the same Democratic Party that was politically stung by NAFTA in 1994..."

    Republicans gaining Congress in 1994 had ZERO to do with NAFTA mainly because:

    1. Newt's Contract On American supported NAFTA and free trade.
    1. Democrats lost Congress in 1994 because they did not unite behind Clinton's health care plan and looked ineffective when America was ready for and wanted health care reform.
    1. Democrats lost Congress in 1994 because of several corruption issues involving top Democratic Congressional leadership.
    1. Clinton and Gore ran on passing NAFTA and won twice based on their support for NAFTA.
    •  Union turnout (12+ / 0-)

      Union turnout was way down in 1994. It wasn't that they voted for the GOP - it was that the Dems' base was demoralized and didn't turn out.

      •  Nope that's not it...% of union votes Republican. (0+ / 0-)

        A very large percentage of union members vote Republicans, the "Reagan Republicans" define this group.

        So union turnout does not particularly favor Democrats.

        Reasons for Democratic Congress loss was the corruption issues (as it was for Republicans in 2004) and its ineffectiveness in supporting Clinton.

        Plus Newt had a strategy of making government not work and he had a good PR campaign with "Contract" when Congressional Democratic leadership was going to jail.

        That Clinton/Gore won reelection supporting NAFTA pretty much is the nail in the coffin of the NAFTA theory.

        Most of the "issue" with NAFTA is really anti-immigrant sentiment...them "damn furriners" are getting our jobs kind of thing.

        •  Dem turnout '94 dropped sharply South, low income (0+ / 0-)

          There are many who would certainly note that income is also a proxy for working class issues, which often is wrongly assumed to be uniquely identified with union voters.

          As a person who actively fought the horrid and fraudulent NAFTA agreement at the time BOTH for my local Southern workers  AND in direct solidarity with both Mexican autonomous unions and non-governmental organization, it was not merely Perot-ian "Sucking Sounders" who opposed this ridiculous mess.

          Back then, we actually were conversationally familiar with which companies in our Southern states were already threatening to leave to Mexico -- including famously the Schlage Lock company.

          By the way, Curtis Gans headed up the Center for the Study of the American Electorate.

          Also, it is quite interesting that you dispute a monocausal analysis of Democratic drop in turnout due to NAFTA -- but then heartily endorse the monocausal "corruption" argument, similarly without recourse to evidence.

          All elections are multi-causal, but it is not impossible to tease out multiple proxy issues which affect voting subsets.

          1994 Congressional Elections: An Analysis
          Curtis Gans

          The Republican Party won a majority of the votes cast for Congress for the first time since 1946 in 1994, which featured only the second significant increase in mid-term turnout in a quarter century.

          In all, 75,114,722 eligible Americans voted in the 1994 election, a 38.8% turnout -- up 2.3 percentage points from 1990. An estimated 108,000,000 eligible Americans did not vote and turnout was more than 20% lower than in the 1960s.

          These findings are from a report on the 1994 mid-term election by the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate (CSAE), a non-partisan, non-profit research organization. This study was based on the final and official registration and turnout statistics from 50 states and the District of Columbia and an analysis of the U.S. Bureau of the Census Current Population Survey report on the 1994 election.

          Among the principal findings of the Committee's study were:

             * The Republicans garnered 19.0% of the eligible vote for Congress, exceeding the Democrats (16.6%) for the first time since 1946.
             * The GOP bested the Democrats in the vote for Congress (17.1% versus 13.5%) in the South and gained a majority of House seats in the region, both for the first time since Reconstruction.
             * Overall turnout was up in every region in the nation except New England and the farm states. It was fueled by major surges in turnout in Tennessee and Virginia and substantial turnout increases in many of the most populous states, including Florida, Maryland, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania. Turnout declined in several states with tight or highly publicized races, including: Alabama, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio and Vermont.
             * Republican turnout was up in every region of the country, while Democratic turnout was down in every region of the country except the Middle Atlantic States and the Far West, where the party recorded exceedingly modest gains.
             * A modest increase in registration, fueled by a 36% increase in registration of those affiliated with neither major party. Registration for both Democratic and Republican parties was down.

          Census Bureau Data

          The Committee's analysis of the Census Bureau's survey showed:

             * A 21% drop in the reported participation rates of those with incomes of $15,000 and lower (from a 34.3% rate in 1990 to a 27.1% rate in 1994).
             * A 33% increase in the share of the vote cast by those whose incomes were $50,000 and over (from 23.7% of the voting electorate in 1990 to 31.5% in 1994).
             * A modest decline in the reported participation rates of blacks -- down two percentage points from 39.2 in 1990 to 37.0 in 1994. This decline, however, was composed of surges in some individual states and declines in others.
             * A return to very low levels of reported partici¨ pation rates of young citizens aged 18-24. After a 25% surge in the 1992 Presidential elections, this year's level of reported 18-24 participation was the lowest (at a reported 20% but likely at least two percentage points lower due to over-reporting) since the Census has been conducting these surveys. The rate of participation of first time youth voters (18-19 years old) dropped from a reported 17.3% in 1990 to 14.5% in 1994.
             * A minor increase (0.3 percentage points) in the male share of the vote and a similar decrease in the female share, neither proving nor disproving the idea of angry males fueling the 1994 election.

          Realignment in the South

          While the election was a resounding victory for the Republicans -- no incumbent Republican lost, its lasting effect may well be limited to the South, where a realignment toward the GOP seems to be in place for at least a generation.

          This election was the first, but surely not the last, in which the GOP won a majority of the votes for Congress and a majority of House seats. It was an accident awaiting an unpopular (in the region) Democratic President to happen. The region as a whole is more conservative than the nation, and the GOP is the more conservative party.

          While the Democrats still enjoy a 37.8% to 22.4 registration advantage in the South, that registration advantage has slipped from a 53.8% to 11.8% edge which existed in 1962. And it is likely to slip even further as being a Republican in fact as well as in voting behavior becomes more respectable in the region and as the impact of the new motor voter law is felt in the region whose restrictive registration laws the new legislation will do most to repair.

          Despite the lingering Democratic registration advantage in the region, Southerners have been more likely to vote for the GOP in Presidential elections since the late 1960s and the number of Democratic statewide office-holders has dwindled.

          The trend in the South is unmistakable. Since 1970, after the full impact of the Voting Rights Act was felt, the Republicans have reversed what was a 18.5% to 10.0% deficit in House votes into the 17.1% to 13.5% majority it enjoyed in the 1994 election.

          That trend is likely to continue for at least a generation. There will likely be further defections of Democratic office-holders to the GOP and more GOP victories in marginal districts. The Democrats went into the 1994 election with an 8-5 margin of House seats. It would not surprise me if the GOP achieved that margin in the next two election cycles.

          No Realignment Elsewhere

          No similar realignment could be seen nationally in the 1994 vote. While the Republicans won the House vote in every region except New England, their biggest margins over the Democrats were in the farm belt of the Midwest (9.1 percentage points), the Rocky Mountain States (8.8), the South (7.5) and the Southwest (5.3), all (save the South) previously GOP strongholds. Margins in other regions were 2.5 percentage points or lower.

          No party which can only get 19% of the vote can claim a national mandate. The fact that there was a slight rise in the vote indicates that a portion of the electorate was activated in the 1994 election, but the size of the rise and the level of overall GOP support indicates that this was more of a negative mandate against the Democrats rather than a positive mandate for the Republicans.

          Democratic Disarray

          Nothing in this election can be comforting to the Democrats. Not only did they lose their majorities in both Houses of Congress, they also lost their voting power relative to Republicans in every region of the country -- including the regions which they won -- New England and the Middle Atlantic states. Perhaps of equal import, three groups key to their 1992 electoral success -- the poor, the blacks and young citizens -- all reported lower participation. In the case of both the poor (those with incomes under $15,000) and first time voters (those aged 18-19), the decline was particularly sharp.

          The Democrats face a very difficult immediate future. They are operating under a number of constraints which make victory in 1996 very problematic. They are unlikely to win any state in the South, save perhaps Arkansas. Their hands will be tied by budget constraints on any new substantive initiatives. And they must fashion an electoral strategy to win in New England, the Middle Atlantic states, the Rust Belt and the Far West, with key core constituencies necessary for that victory in an apparent state of demobilization.

          The Democratic disarray is a deserved product of two major missteps -- the failure in 1994 to offer any theme or message around which to rally and the failure over a 25-year period to fashion an approach uniting the middle and underclass wings of the party. They seem no closer to such a message now.

          The only comfort the Democrats can draw is that their national decline in turnout was only 1.26 percentage points and that the Presidential electorate (an election in which citizens vote at a 10-15 point higher rate than in mid-term elections) is likely to be far less skewed toward high income brackets.

          Future Voter Turnout

          Two factors point to increased turnout: the implementation of the National Voter Registration Act (the so-called motor voter law), which is likely to substantially increase registration and thus those who have the potential to vote -- particularly in the South -- and the increasing likelihood of credible candidates beyond the two major parties.

          Factors pointing to the potential of decreased turnout include: the general demobilization of the electorate over the last three decades; the decreased allegiance to and mobilizing ability of either major political party; the hope factor -- the lack of feeling that the results of the 1996 election will produce significant beneficial changes in the lives of most Americans; and the continuing conduct of campaigns at the most negative and destructive levels.

             What we are seeing is dealignment rather than realignment -- a turning away from both major political parties.

          Dealignment and Democratic Decay

          Three pieces of information from this study stand out as a harbingers of future politics:

             * The decline in registration for both major parties and the rise in registration for independents: Since 1966 -- the high point in both turnout and registration in mid-term elections since women were given the franchise in 1920 -- Democratic registration (in the District of Columbia and the 26 states which registered by party) has declined steadily from a 1966 high of 44.2% to a 1994 low of 31.5%. Republican registration has declined slightly from 25.0% in 1966 to 22.6% in 1994. And independent registration (for other parties or unaffiliated) has increased from 3.9% in 1966 to 12.4%1 in 1994.
             * The decline in voter participation by young voters: With the single exception of the 1992 election, the turnout of young people (aged 18-24) and first-time voters (aged 18-19) has been declining steadily in both Presidential and mid-term elections since 18-to-19-year-olds were given the franchise in 1972. In the 1994 election, the reported turnout level of 18-19 year-olds was 14.5%, with actual turnout levels likely at least two percentage points lower than that. Reported turnout for all other age levels up to age 45 also declined. In the 1994 election, there were significant increases in turnout, based on age, only for the age group 75 years-old and over.
             * Continuing low voter turnout: Despite a significant partisan change in the results of the election, turnout was up only modestly (2.3 percentage points) and remains at a level more than 20% lower than it was in the 1960s.

          What we are seeing is dealignment rather than realignment -- a turning away from both major political parties. And despite the increases in turnout in both the 1992 Presidential election and the 1994 midterm, the future trend is toward disengagement and non-participation. The 1994 election can properly be seen as similar to the elections of 1966, 1974, 1980 and 1992 -- as rejections of the party in power, but without offering much hope for long term citizen re-engagement in the future.

          Given two factors -- the growing disaffection from both major parties and nominating rules that will likely select the nominees of the two major parties by the end of March 1996 -- a serious independent or third party candidacy becomes an increasing possibility.

          Curtis Gans is director of The Committee for the Study of the American Electorate in Washington, D.C. For information, write to 421 New Jersey Ave., SE, Washington, DC 20003 (202) 546-3221.

    •  I agree that NAFTA was not the issue, but (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      philgoblue, Salo, kyril

      the Republicans had been building the infrastructure for 1994 years before.  They had probably hoped to gain complete control in 1992, but Perot hurt them more then he helped them.  I'm still not sure if Perot was part of the plan or if he really hated GHWB that much.

      Nevertheless, they were stuck with Clinton so they used him and Hillary to rally support.  I honestly believe there was more Hillary bashing in the 90's then there is now when she is running for President.

      One way or the other, NAFTA cost Dems in key Congressional races votes over the years.  The Democratic Party ceases to be the party of workers when it supports these BS corporate trade deals.

      For every penny the West gives in aid to Africa a 'counterpenny' is given to tear these cultures apart through war.

      by tecampbell on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 11:18:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

  • Recommended (135)
  • Community (62)
  • Elections (40)
  • 2016 (38)
  • Environment (36)
  • Bernie Sanders (36)
  • Hillary Clinton (31)
  • Culture (30)
  • Media (29)
  • Republicans (29)
  • Climate Change (27)
  • Education (23)
  • Spam (23)
  • Congress (23)
  • Civil Rights (22)
  • Trans-Pacific Partnership (21)
  • Barack Obama (21)
  • Labor (21)
  • Law (20)
  • Texas (20)
  • Click here for the mobile view of the site