Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Ascendant Center?

The Moose muses on the rise of the middle.

While the last election was predicated on polarization, the next Presidential cycle may be centered on the center. Americans appear to be tiring of the partisan politics of the base. Within the Democratic Party, the frontrunner is clearly running to the middle - Hillary has taken firm centrist positions on such issues as values and national security.

And the early clear frontrunners in the GOP - McCain and Giuliani - are men of the middle. While it is far too early to suggest that the respective bases of the two parties will not be significant players in the '08 sweepstakes, there are not strong candidates of the left in the Democratic Party nor are there obvious righties with strength in the GOP.

Michael Barone offers insightful analyses of this phenomena in U.S. News,

"For 10 years American politics has been sharply polarized, with just about equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats arrayed angrily against one another. We have come to think of this as a permanent condition. Yet by the next presidential election that may very well change. The reason: The leading candidates for both parties' 2008 nominations are in significant tension with their parties' bases--and, in some cases, outright opposition."

It seems that Giuliani has the highest hurdles to overcome in his party - he is pro-choice, pro-gay rights and pro-gun control. Of these three positions, it is inconceivable that the GOP will nominate a Presidential candidate who is not opposed to abortion. However, if national security remains the central issue, both McCain and Rudy have better credentials than all of their potential opponents.

Barone suggests that if McCain or Giuliani could win the GOP nomination, the political map would be rearranged,

"A McCain or a Giuliani nomination has the potential to change the regional alignments that have mostly prevailed since the election of 1996, in both directions. Either would almost certainly run better than George W. Bush in the vast suburban tracts of once marginal states like New Jersey and Illinois. But they might fail to draw the huge turnout of cultural conservatives that Bush did in the nonmetropolitan reaches of states like Ohio and Missouri. The 2004 election was a battle for turnout, which Republicans won: John Kerry's vote was up 16 percent from Al Gore's, while Bush's vote in 2004 was up 23 percent from 2000. If it's not clear whether McCain or Giuliani could duplicate the right-wing turnout for Bush, it's also not clear whether Clinton could duplicate the left-wing turnout in 2004, which was motivated mostly by hatred of Bush. We have gotten into the habit of complaining about our polarized politics. Well, complain now, because it may change soon."

Us immoderate centrists hope that Barone is right.
-- Posted at 9:54 AM | Link to this post | Email this post