Saturday, November 11, 2006

Whittling Dixie

Tom Schaller speaks! Responding in The Gadflyer to Joshua Holland's post, which echos many of my critiques of Schaller's Whistling Past Dixie, Schaller offers the following bullet points to explain why this election vindicates his position:

Sure, we can cherry pick here and there to find southern wins. And I never said there would never be southern wins at any level, ever again.

But let's look at this week's results through some quick bullet points:

  • 5 of 6 Gubernatorial pickups outside the South (84%)
  • 5 of 6 Senatorial pickups outside the South (84%)
  • 24 of 29 House pickups outside the South (83%)
  • Speaking of the House, here are the "flip" rates for each region (and I include KY and OK with the Confederate South, to keep Josh happy): Northeast: 11 wins from 36 GOP-held seats, or 30.6% "flip rate"; Midwest: 9 of 60, 15%; 4 of 44, 9.1%; but in the South, just 5 of 91, for a meager 5.5%.
  • And of those 5 southern wins, two were in races that were tainted by deposed incumbent scandals, and required voters to write-in the GOP candidate (and they still were close).
  • For the first time in more than half a century, the minority party in the South is the majority party in both chambers of Congress--a truly stunning development.
  • 254 of 275 net new Democratic state legislators (92%) outside the South, the vast majority coming from the Northeast and Midwest, yielding nine new chamber majorities (six in the Midwest, one in Oregon, both in New Hampshire…none in the South).
  • The measly 21 southern state legislative seats the Democrats netted are only 1 fewer than the combined 20 U.S. House seats the Democrats picked up in the Midwest and Northeast alone.
  • Finally, here is the two-party Democratic (D%-R%) performance, by region, according to exit polls: Northeast, +28%; Midwest, +5%; West, +11%; and South, -8%.

In my next few posts I'll be taking these on point for point. I think dealing with it all at once would result in a post of prohibitive length so please bear with me.


joshua holland said...

I look forward to that.

I let it go because he's a colleague, but my two cents: Tom didn't actually respond to my post. He basically crunched more numbers at me, even though I had conceded that his number-crunching had shown that Dems can win without the South. He didn't address why this election -- with a 50-state strategy and all the issues that surrounded it (the war, Mark Foley, etc.) -- validated his thesis, and he completely ignored the normative argument: even if the Dems can win without the South, should they?

FearItself said...

I agree. What' s more, I thought the numbers he supplied constituted an incomplete and misleading analysis of the situation, which I will explain in detail soon.

I don't mean this as an attack on the guy. I usually like his work. I'm just worried about the consequences that could arise should the party adopt these particular ideas in a significant way. I think it would be a HUGE mistake.