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What will be the deciding factor in this year's elections? Will it be Obamacare? The chaos erupting across the globe? The president's approval rating? Will it besingle women voters, Hispanics, young people?
Mike Podhorzer crunched the numbers and found there's one factor that, with eerie consistency, explains the way elections have swung for the past decade. Podhorzer, the political director of the AFL-CIO, is one of the top electoral strategists on the left. The crucial factor, he found, is Democrats' vote share among voters making less than $50,000.
Republicans consistently win voters making $50,000 or more, approximately the U.S. median income. The margin doesn't vary too much: In 2012, Mitt Romney got 53 percent of this group's vote; in 2010, Republican House candidates got 55 percent. And Democrats consistently win voters making less than the median—but the margin varies widely. In fact, whether Democrats win these voters by a 10-point or a 20-point margin tells you who won every national election for the past decade.
In 2004, Democrats won the working-class vote by 11 points; George W. Bush was reelected. In 2006, Democrats won the working-class vote by 22 points and took the House and Senate. In 2008, Democrats won by 22 points again, and President Obama was elected. In 2010, the margin narrowed to 11 points, and Republicans took the House back. In 2012, Obama was reelected—on the strength of another 22-point margin among voters making under $50,000.
"It doesn't often get reported, but the key indicator that has been decisive for the last several elections is how people making below the median income vote," Podhorzer said this week. Black or white, Asian or Hispanic, male or female, young or old, it's that simple. To reach these voters, Podhorzer believes, candidates need to focus on the economic issues of the working class. "Economic populism decides who wins elections in America," he said. [...]
Wow. Now that it's safe to follow the herd, Chris Matthews goes out on a limb ...
"If the war in Iraq was going better, we wouldn't still be asking how we got into it. But it isn't, so we are. For some, the deciding argument for going to war with Iraq was self-defense...it was nuclear. If Saddam Hussein had the bomb or was about to [get it], we had to stop him.
How many times were we told the smoking gun would be a mushroom cloud? How many times did the vice president tell us that Iraq had a nuclear program? Who can forget that the President himself used his State of the Union to warn of Saddam cutting a deal down in Africa? It was a smart, shrewd strategy...talking about mushroom clouds. It got people off the fence. It carried the undecideds. It shut down the opposition. It got us into Iraq. But it was based on faulty, bogus evidence.
Two years ago, with our forces fully engaged in Iraq, the nuclear threat was long seen as inoperative. Now a former Ambassador [Joseph Wilson], who had been sent to Africa before the war looking for evidence of an Iraqi uranium deal, said he came back empty. But he wasn't the first to try and knock down the nuclear argument. Intelligence agencies had been doing that for months, just as unsuccessfully.
The larger scandal in this White House/CIA leak story is not just who leaked the name of an undercover agent, but whether we were given a case for war—the deciding factor for many of us—knowing that it didn't hold water. As we work to find our way out of Iraq, we should focus a bit...on how we got in."
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