Ruy Teixeira and John Judis published a book last year entitled "The Emerging Democratic Majority". The title echoed Kevin Phillips' 1969 bestseller, "The Emerging Republican Majority", as well as Lanny Davis' lesser-known 1974 opus "The Emerging Democratic Majority".
Davis at least had the advantage of seeing his book published in a watershed year for Democrats. Teixeira and Judis had the misfortune of being published just before the 2002 midterm elections, in which the Democrats were pretty soundly trouced. Fortunately, hope springs eternal, and Teixeira has written an article
for the Washington Monthly to show that the Democratic majority is still emerging despite the fact that for him, the 2002 election "wasn't my ideal outcome".
Teixeira throws a fair amount of percentages at the reader in the hopes that nobody will bother to look at them too hard. However, he makes no attempt to put these numbers into real context. For example, he says:
"The Denver-Boulder area as a whole voted for Democrat Strickland by a 6-point margin; that's larger than the 3-point victory Gore won in 2000, which in turn improved on Michael Dukakis's 1-point loss in 1988."
That makes it sound like a pretty straight line of improvement from Dukakis' 1-point loss to Gore's 3-point win to (US Senate candidate) Strickland's 6-point win. But of course it does not mention that when Dukakis lost by 1 point in Denver in 1998, he was losing by about 7.5 percentage points nationally, so that his 1-point loss in Denver was about 6.5 percentage points better than he did overall, while Gore's 3-point win in Denver only bettered what he was doing nationally by about 2.5 percentage points. That sure does not sound like an area getting more Democratic, and the inclusion of the Senate candidate is clearly a red herring.
The rest of the article contains oodles of the same sort of proof:
"Arapahoe voted for Reagan in 1980 by 39 points, for Bush I in 1988 by 22 points and for W. in 2000 by only eight points. In the same period, Jefferson favored Reagan by 34 points, Bush by 15, and his son by just eight."
Arapahoe certainly does seem to have gotten more liberal by the stats provided... but Bush II still won it by eight points, which hardly makes it a Democrat bastion. Jefferson however seems to have stayed about the same from Bush I to Bush II despite the slide indicated in the results. Bush I won by 15 points, which was about 7 points better than he did nationally. Bush II won by 8 points, which is about 8-1/2 points better than he did nationally.
"Maryland's gubernatorial election is an even stronger refutation of the exurban thesis. To begin with, Democrats picked up two House seats in the 2002 election, and Gore beat Bush by 17 points in the last presidential election."
Well, yes, but more to the point in 2002, they lost the governorship. To cite that gubernatorial election as a refutation of the exurban thesis (that as suburbs become more Democratic, as they have, that simultaneously exurbs are becoming populated disproportionately by Republicans) is pretty silly. And in fact, notice that he immediately tries to divert attention from that loss with two completely unrelated issues--the individual election results in congressional elections, and Gore's vote total in 2000.
"So the GOP was clearly the turnout party in 2002. But it's unlikely to be able to repeat this. To begin with, Democrats won't be caught napping again. They've launched their own version of the "72-Hour Project" called "Project 5104"--shorthand for winning 51 percent of the vote in '04."
As usual, an explanation for 2002 that does not require admitting that the voters preferred Republicans over Democrats. Instead, the Democrats were just caught napping, but they've got a plan for '04--to get 51% of the vote.
Now that may not sound like an ambitious plan. That is, until you look back over the last 14 presidential elections and realize that the Democrats have managed to achive that 51% goal exactly ONCE. That's right. LBJ got 61% of the vote in 1964. NO other Democrat candidate for president has gotten 51% of the vote. Carter in 1976 got a bare majority with 50.06%; he was the only one to break 50%. Truman in 1958, Kennedy in 1960, and even Clinton in 1992 and 1996 were NOT majority presidents. In that same period of time, Eisenhower (twice), Nixon, Reagan (twice) and Bush I have all gotten more than 51% of the vote.