Monday, November 22, 2004

Cracking the Exurbs

The Moose suggests that the donkey spend more time in mega-malls.

Ron Brownstein and Richard Rainey offer a bleak picture for the donkey in today's Los Angeles Times,

In this month's election, President Bush carried 97 of the nation's 100 fastest-growing counties, most of them "exurban" communities that are rapidly transforming farmland into subdivisions and shopping malls on the periphery of major metropolitan areas.Together, these fast-growing communities provided Bush a punishing 1.72 million vote advantage over Democrat John F. Kerry, according to a Times analysis of election results. That was almost half the president's total margin of victory.

The piece goes on to indicate that Republican strength has been growing in these communities since 1996,

In 2000, Bush won 94 of the counties, but they provided him a smaller cumulative advantage of 1.06 million votes.

But look at the comparison with 1996,

The change is even more dramatic when compared to 1996. In that campaign, Bob Dole won 74 of what today are the 100 fastest-growing counties. His margin of victory over President Clinton in the 100 counties was 450,000 votes, compared to Bush's significantly larger margin this year of more than 1.7 million votes.

The Moose does not expect the donkey to prevail in these conservative regions - but Democrats must be more competitive. Just examine the Ohio experience, as the Moose noted yesterday.

In contrast to some who thought these "edge" communities would become more Democratic as they become more metropolitan , it appears that they are trending more Republican. Democrats must develop a message that resonates with some of these voters because they are increasingly eliminating the urban advantage that Democrats have enjoyed.

The donkey must appeal again to voters who are seeking upward mobility. As Brownstein and Rainey point out,

These are places defined more by aspiration than accumulation, filled more with families starting out than with those that have already reached their earnings peak.

The exurbs are not filled with 30-something Tom Joads or Joe Hills who are itching for a fight with the foreman. If they are fighting something, they are fighting for a parking place at the mega-shopping mall.

"The People vs. the Powerful" will not resonate in these edge communities. Democrats must be seen as the party of growth, responsibility and prosperity again if they are going to compete in the places where America is moving.
-- Posted at 1:18 PM | Link to this post | Email this post