WASHINGTON (AP) — Some demographers call it the browning of America. Fueled by immigration and higher birth rates among Hispanics and blacks, the U.S. population is becoming less white.
These changes, however, have largely bypassed congressional districts represented by Republicans, adding to divisions between the GOP and Democrats on issues like immigration.
National GOP leaders have been urging Republicans in Congress to reach out to Hispanic voters on immigration, well aware that Hispanics are the nation’s fastest-growing group.
Those calls have fallen flat among many House Republicans, who have been unwilling to advance legislation that would provide a pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.
When I use the term fiscal conservative it’s taken from my (& the common definition) meaning somehow as a pejorative. Must be that other “C” word. One person who rejects the term outright thinks “reasonably pragmatic” would be better.
Well I object on the basis of not letting the extremists steal the term from the sensible. In addition to California’s Democratic Governor also being a strong fiscal conservative, I applaud the concept, and await it’s return to the center and right aisles. In the meantime I’ll applaud it where I can find it.
The bold and italics are my addition.
January 4, 2013
Since election night, many political pundits have written about the demise of the conservative Democratic Blue Dog Caucus in Congress. What is most distressing to us is not the pontifications of the political punditry (many of whom picked Mitt Romney to win in a landslide) but, rather, the acceptance by many Democrats that the South is a lost cause.
What is so puzzling about Democrats writing off certain congressional districts, like those in our home states of Mississippi and Louisiana, is that they fail to either see or accept the correlation between winning those highly competitive House seats below the Mason-Dixon line and taking control of Congress. It is not a coincidence that the reduction of Blue Dogs on Capitol Hill coincides with Republican control of the House of Representative.
Just a few years ago, in 2006, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel, working with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, led Democrats to take back the House of Representatives from Republicans and J. Dennis Hastert, the longest-serving Republican speaker in history.
After all, ranking member and minority leader are pretty good titles to have, but chairman and speaker of the House sound a heck of a lot better.
Hardly ancient history. Democrats picked up 31 seats, and a quick look at this map demonstrates just how much blue there was in the South. Those same voters live there today, and the world hasn’t changed all that much in six years.
While redistricting has made things harder for Democrats in some of those congressional districts, it doesn’t change the fact that they must have those seats to wrestle back control of the House.
Emanuel has left Washington to be mayor of Chicago, but that doesn’t mean a concerted effort to take back those congressional seats in the South is an impossibility. It just means Democrats need to do two things:
First, recruit candidates with political viewpoints that are in line with people in those regions — and who have the ability to raise money.
And second, the party needs to lead from the middle to convince Southerners that a vote for a Democrat is not a vote for far-left policies in Washington that are out of step with the more moderate views in rural America.
We are not suggesting that Democrats abandon their principles. Rather, instead of always starting political debates on the far left, and only moving to the middle during negotiations, Democrats should begin in the middle and challenge Republicans to come to us. Always beginning negotiations from extreme positions doesn’t help achieve the legislative compromise our nation so desperately needs. It also doesn’t assure the moderate voters who decide elections in swing districts that the Democratic Party is moderate.
The importance of Blue Dogs for Democrats to control Congress isn’t critical just in the House. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., a member of the Blue Dogs, won a hotly contested Senate fight. Admittedly, his opponent did real damage to his own campaign with highly controversial comments about abortion. But Donnelly ran a strong campaign and was ahead in some polls even before that happened.
No doubt, if Donnelly had been too liberal for Indiana’s moderate voters (both registered Democrats and independents), that Senate seat could have ended up in the hands of Republicans.
Just a few years ago, Democrats had seats in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia that are now controlled by Republicans. In the most recent presidential election, President Barack Obama won Virginia and almost won North Carolina. So the South is hardly a lost cause for Democrats.
This is why Democrats need to shrug off the assertions that the Blue Dogs are over and again make real efforts to take back those seats — and with them, control of the House of Representatives.
Former Reps. Ronnie Shows, D-Miss., and Charlie Melancon, D-La., were part of the Blue Dog Caucus during their tenures on Capitol Hill.
Battleground 2014 is shaping up to be a very small place.
With the House sliced and diced into districts that leave most incumbents insulated from any serious reelection challenge — and a host of prized Senate recruits from both parties deciding they’d rather just stay home — control of Congress could be decided next year by the fewest number of states and congressional districts in a decade or more.
The nonprofit advocacy group that inherited President Obama’s grass-roots campaign infrastructure faces the first real test of its political might Friday, when it holds a series of volunteer-driven events in support of the president’s gun violence reduction plan.
With the so-called Day of Action, its first national mobilization since launching in January, Organizing for Action is adopting a tactic from Obama’s reelection bid, which used such events to engage its 2.2 million volunteers.
The group’s supporters plan more than 100 activities, including rallies, phone banks and candlelight vigils in 80 congressional districts, hoping to prove that an organization built to elect a candidate can be effectively refocused on legislative goals.
Ian Millhiser:Why Americans Actually Voted for a Democratic House
Based on ThinkProgress’ review of all ballots counted so far, 53,952,240 votes were cast for a Democratic candidate for the House and only 53,402,643 were cast for a Republican — meaning that Democratic votes exceed Republican votes by more than half a million.
The actual partisan breakdown of the 113th Congress will be very different, however. Currently, Republicans enjoy a 233-192 advantage over Democrats, with 10 seats remaining undecided. That means that, in a year when Republicans earned less than half the popular vote, they will control a little under 54 percent of the House even if Democrats run the table on the undecided seats.
There is a simple explanation for how this happened: Republicans won several key state legislatures and governors’ mansions in the election cycle before redistricting, and they gerrymandered those states within an inch of their lives. President Obama won Pennsylvania by more than 5 points, but Democrats carried only 5 of the state’s 18 congressional seats:
Similar stories played out elsewhere. Obama won Virginia, and Democrats took 3 of 11 House seats. Obama won Ohio, but Democrats carried only 4 of 16 seats in Ohio’s House delegation.
Republican Rep. Allen West kicked off his Treasure Coast campaign for congressional District 18 on Sunday with a rally, during which he criticized President Obama on a variety of issues, using phrases and language guaranteed to get attention.
“He does not want you to have the self-esteem of getting up and earning and having that title of American. He’d rather you be his slave,” said West.
“I am offended by some of the things he says and does,” said Martin County Sheriff Robert Crowder, West’s challenger in the Aug. 14 primary.
Outside the rally, about 30 protesters held signs and chanted, declaring their distaste for the man speaking inside the Port St. Lucie Civic Center.
The battle for the newly drawn District 18 Florida congressional seat will be one of the most closely watched races this political season.
As the congressional districts were redrawn, West moved from a Broward and Palm Beach County-based seat to seek the new District 18 seat, with a Treasure Coast majority.
The protesters said they wished West had stayed down south.
“He seems to represent the richest 1 percent of Americans, and he’s forgetting about the 99 percent of us … the rest of us who actually work for a living and try to provide for our families,” said protester Jeff Callahan.
The Tea Party favorite also advocated for energy independence and told about 500 audience members he wants to rebuild families
For the past 30 years, redistricting in Texas has provided great theater. As the state has gone from one-party Democratic to a Republican stronghold to renewed stirrings of bipartisan competition, the controlling party has exploited the decennial line drawing to lock in gains. And just as certainly, the courts have provided refuge for those on the outs.
The Supreme Court has recognized the problem on a national scale but has been unable to see a solution. The justices have failed to find an easy definition of what is fair, what level of manipulation is permissible, how much greed is tolerable, how many districts should be assigned to this group or that group.
Unfortunately our democracy has done little to bring order to the self-serving spectacle of political insiders trying to cement their advantage, the voters be damned. Fifty years ago the Supreme Court decreed that it would strike down unequal population in districts, but other than translating that into a one-person, one-vote requirement, the Court has done little else. We are told that gerrymandering offends the Constitution, but that nothing can be done about it.
So, following the logic of going where the getting might be good, litigants have learned that partisan grievances only get traction if adorned in the inflammatory garb of racial claims.
Of course, race and politics are difficult to separate. The polarization of the parties nationally yields a heavily minority Democratic party and an overwhelmingly white Republican party. The richest partisan gains follow the lines of race and ethnicity.
Which brings us to the current Texas showdown. Since the last redistricting a decade ago, the state gained nearly four million residents, mostly the result of surges in the minority population. In turn, Texas received an additional four congressional districts. As a general rule, states more easily distribute population gains than losses. But with a divided Congress, every seat has become part of the national battleground. With Republicans in control of the Texas Legislature, the state was carved up to create four districts that they would likely control. So, off to litigation we go, where the story becomes inordinately complicated.
Texas is a “covered jurisdiction” under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act which means that it cannot put its plan into effect unless it is “precleared” by either the Department of Justice or a special three-judge court in Washington, D.C. This year, for the first time since the VRA was passed in 1965, the Justice Department is headed by Democrats at the time of redistricting. Texas decided to try the D.C. court instead, and the state is now about to go to trial to prove that the new plan is not discriminatory in either its effect or its intent.
Meanwhile, suit was also filed in Texas before a special three-judge federal court claiming that the new plan could not be implemented before it was precleared, that the pre-2010 Census plan on which the lines were based could no longer be used because it failed to account properly for the population of Texas, and that the new plan was in fact discriminatory. That case, too, was scheduled for a quick trial.
GOP Popularity also Declines even in Tea Party Districts
Since the 2010 midterm elections, the Tea Party has not only lost support nationwide, but also in the congressional districts represented by members of the House Tea Party Caucus. And this year, the image of the Republican Party has declined even more sharply in these GOP-controlled districts than across the country at large.
In the latest Pew Research Center survey, conducted Nov. 9-14, more Americans say they disagree (27%) than agree (20%) with the Tea Party movement. A year ago, in the wake of the sweeping GOP gains in the midterm elections, the balance of opinion was just the opposite: 27% agreed and 22% disagreed with the Tea Party. At both points, more than half offered no opinion.
Throughout the 2010 election cycle, agreement with the Tea Party far outweighed disagreement in the 60 House districts represented by members of the Congressional Tea Party Caucus. But as is the case nationwide, support has decreased significantly over the past year; now about as many people living in Tea Party districts disagree (23%) as agree (25%) with the Tea Party.
GOP Loses Favorability Advantage in Tea Party Districts
The Republican Party’s image also has declined substantially among people who live in Tea Party districts. Currently, 41% say they have a favorable opinion of the GOP, while 48% say they have an unfavorable view. As recently as March of this year, GOP favorability was 14 points higher (55%) in these districts, with just 39% offering an unfavorable opinion
Redistricting season is upon us again. Politicians and interest groups are pouring over proposed and finalized maps, and pundits are trying to keep score. How many seats will the Democrats pick up in California? How many will they lose in Missouri?
More important than score-keeping, however, is whether the composition of the legislature reflects the partisanship of the electorate. Will a party that wins 50 percent of the votes get 50 percent of the seats?
In most states the answer is no. Republicans can expect a sizable advantage, and not because of gerrymandering.
Consider the recently adopted districting plans in two of the states most hotly contested in the 2008 presidential election: Indiana and Missouri. In Indiana, if we overlay the new plan on precinct-level election returns, we find that Obama would have obtained a majority in only two of nine congressional districts (representing Indianapolis and Gary), in spite of winning the statewide vote. In Missouri, Obama would have won only two of eight districts (representing St. Louis and Kansas City) with almost half of the statewide vote.
In many large industrial states such as Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, where presidential and statewide elections are extremely close, a similar pattern emerges. Despite being home to roughly equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans, Republicans hold comfortable majorities in Congressional delegations and state legislatures.
Why? To frustrated Democrats, the answer seems obvious: Republicans drew favorable maps that packed Democrats into a few urban districts. GOP Congressional gains are a product of timely victories in state legislatures prior to redistricting. Moreover, Republican efforts to “pack” Democrats into homogeneous districts are enhanced by the efforts of minority-representation advocates who often join forces with Republican cartographers.
For many Democratic activists, the solution, too, seems obvious: take redistricting power away from legislators and give it to independent agencies required to draw natural districts that do not favor any party or racial group.
But Republican cartographers and minority advocates are only a small part of the problem in many states. The larger problem is the enduring legacy of American industrial development, which distributes Democratic voters in a way that is highly inefficient for Democratic candidates.
Since the New Deal, Democrats have tended to live in dense urban centers as well as smaller agglomerations (including college towns) that are spread out along the railroad tracks, rivers, canals, and lakes where industry and labor unions gathered strength in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Republicans tend to live in lower-density suburbs and exurbs surrounding these agglomerations as well as in the rural periphery.