Kos wrote a piece showing state shifts in Presidential voting the last two elections on Thursday. Take a quick look.
Paul Rosenberg at Open Left followed up with a post pulling in Gallup poll numbers on change in party ID amongst voters. Take a look.
These make for a great lead-in to a question that has been rumbling around in my head since November.
In particular it is a question for pollsters, strategists, and Indiana people out there… Why Indiana?
In pondering this past election cycle I find myself surprised by only one thing… Indiana… well, two things, that one lonely electoral vote in Nebraska too. North Carolina came over to us one election cycle earlier then I expected but I consider that a very nice treat not a surprise. All the other states fell as expected. Except Indiana. Why did we win Indiana? And how do we build on that?
I think pundits, pollsters, strategists, political consultants and politicians are likely to make some serious mistakes in evaluating this past election and using it to predict future results. Two major factors came together uniquely in the 2008 election that will not be repeated in the future. Those two factors are the complete and total disaster that was the Bush/Cheney administration and Barack Obama, the first African-American to be nominated and subsequently elected President in the United States of America.
So, while some Democrats turned delusional in their victorious ecstasy gloat about “permanent Democratic majorities” and Republicans do whatever the Republican equivalent of navel gazing is while wailing and gnashing teeth over their massive defeat, the fact of the matter is that weak and poor governing on the part of Democrats could easily bring back the slim Republican majority that is their highest possible achievement level and return Democrats to the navel gazing self criticism that seems to come so easily to them.
During this past election cycle Democrats were energized by the opportunity to finally be rid of the Bush/Cheney disaster and the desire to ensure that it was not continued by another Republican. Minorities and liberals amongst Democrats were further energized by the opportunity to finally advance the civil rights movement that has been stalled since 1968 by electing the first African-American to the Presidency. Make no mistake this is a huge barrier that has been broken. Independent voters were similarly energized by the opportunity to be rid of Republican mis-rule and the desire to give Democrats a chance to dig us out of this mess. Reasonable and responsible Republicans, the same.
Which brings us to Indiana. Indiana is a very rural, conservative, white, Republican state. The last time it voted Democrat for President was in the Lyndon Johnson landslide against Barry Goldwater in 1964. Prior to that it was FDR’s first 2 elections during the depression. Going backwards between then and the birth of the Republican Party in 1860 Indiana has voted Democratic only 4 other times and of those 3 were in the 1800’s. In 2004 it was a 60% - 39% Republican state.
So, is this just an anomaly like 1964? Or is there something to be learned here? FDR is the only one to put back-to-back Democratic victories together but even he didn’t manage to win Indiana in his next two elections. Working with that small amount of information… is it economic populism? Or are there other lessons to be learned here?