As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Let's Be Optimists, Shall We?

If your only source of news is the cable shoutfest, you'd think that the Democratic Party was permanently fractured and unable to recover from this competitive primary between two evenly matched candidates. If you bother to read, you'd actually see that, at the same time as this primary, Democrats have increased their share of the electorate in party identification to their highest level since Bill Clinton's victory in 1992.

Pew says voters now favor the Democrats by a "decidedly larger margin" than the previous two election cycles.

Voters who identify themselves as Independents actually occupy first place at 37 percent, followed by Democrats at 36 percent and Republicans at 27 percent. That's a 3 point gain for Democrats since 2004 and a 6 point drop for Republicans, putting them at their lowest ebb in 16 years.

The Democrats have added to that an edge among self-described independents. In 2004, independents broke roughly evenly among the two parties with 12 percent favoring Democrats and 11 percent the Republicans. But now, 15 percent lean Democratic compared to 10 percent who lean Republican. That means Democrats have a 51 percent to 37 percent margin if the leaners are combined with those who outright identify themselves as being for one party or the other.

It's just going to be hard for Republicans to overcome this in a general election, especially considering that the head-to-head matchups between a presumptive McCain and a feuding Obama or Clinton are at their lowest ebb right now. The fact that Pennsylvania Democrats were so energized by a rare contested primary that they increased their registration by 160,000 voters and now have a 800,000-vote lead in registration statewide is almost insurmountable, and that's a swing state in November. And 120,000 of these new registrants aren't converts; they've never voted before. People are fed up with conservative Bush-era policies and are coming out of the woodwork to make a difference. And the Republican state parties will be of no help in trying to hold back this progressive wave.

At a time when the GOP presidential nominee will need more assistance than ever, a number of state Republican parties are struggling through troubled times, suffering from internal strife, poor fundraising, onerous debt, scandal or voting trends that are conspiring to relegate the local branches of the party to near-irrelevance.

In some of the largest, smallest, reddest and bluest states in the nation, many state Republican organizations are still reeling in the aftermath of the devastating 2006 election cycle, raising questions about how much grassroots help the state parties will be able to deliver to presumptive GOP nominee John McCain.

The state party woes are especially ill-timed since McCain will face a Democratic nominee who may be considerably better funded and organized, and since Republicans will be facing an energized Democratic party that is shattering primary election turnout records.

I already knew this was a big problem here in California, where the state party is mired in debt. I didn't know it was the case nationwide.

Let's finish up this primary and have organizing opportunities in Pennsylvania, along with winnable states like North Carolina and Kentucky and Oregon. And then, let's have the animosity melt away as we focus on the real issue in November - continuing the failed policies of the conservative Bush era, or moving in a different direction.

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