Safe Seats and Carolina Blues

The voting shift in this nation is largely about two dynamics: safe seats and the Carolina blues. To get a really good close-up glimpse of what demographic problems the Republican Party is facing in the national electorate, one has to look no further than the North Carolina Senate race lost by Elizabeth Dole.

The loss by Dole was not simply a result of the headwinds (self-inflicted as they were) that all GOP candidates faced in 2008, though that was a factor. The Dole loss was more than that. Dole lost a senate seat held by Republicans since 1972. Dole lost the "Jesse Helms" seat.  Truth be told, she never filled it adequately, but at least she did win it in 2002 against Clintonite Erskine Bowles.

Consider: Counting the 30 plus 6 years that Helms and then Dole occupied that seat, and the multiple terms served by conservative Democrat B. Everett Jordan before that,  this is a seat  soon to be occupied by a liberal for the first time in modern American political history. The other N.C. seat has gone back and forth between the parties for the past four decades, but this is a loss of the Helms seat.  This is seismic.

For decades, the Senate has been on a Helms-Kennedy continuum. It wasn't an official delineation of course, but the conservative Helms and the liberal Ted Kennedy counter balanced each other. Until Barack Obama came along, all U.S. Senators were somewhere left of Jesse and right of Teddy. Oh I know that technically Socialist Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Joe Biden of Delaware vote a smidge more liberally than Kennedy, but of the big time figures, Helms and Kennedy set the philosophical boundaries. There was a semblance of equilibrium -- or so it seemed. Helms tugged from the right and Kennedy from the left, and most legislation ended up somewhere in between.

The huge difference now is that the Kennedy seat is safe. Period. Kennedy, even with his cancer, could probably have that seat deeded to him and whoever his handpicked successor will be for the next five election cycles. And whoever that successor will be, you can bet it will be a hard core leftist.

This is true of just about every single hard left senator or house member in the United States Congress. Folks like Kennedy, Barney Frank, Henry Waxman, Maxine Waters, Chris Dodd, Robert Wexler, and many more fit this category. It does not matter how wrong they are on policies, how whacko they are in hearings, or how corrupt they are with chunks of money in their freezers or with sweetheart  mortgages from Fannie Mae lenders (not to mention gay prostitution rings in their apartments), these folks are lifers. Not pro-lifers mind you. Congressional lifers. And there is no way to abort their lifetime selections. Their collective voice tugs the two houses of congress to the left, and there is no counter balance anymore.

The Helms seat was always tenuous. Every time Jesse was up for election, millions upon millions of dollars of non-North Carolina cash flowed into the coffers of his opponent and it mattered not who the opponent was. Truth be told, Helms lost almost every pre-election poll ever taken, yet won all five races. All closely. The mega millions poured into the Tar Heel state never defeated him, but it did moblize many voters who defeated other Republicans.

And this is true of many of the most conservative members in the House and Senate. Their seats are vulnerable and the left mobilizes huge throngs of donors and 527's and ACORN voters each cycle to target a handful of them. And they are picking them off, one by one. They can do this. They face no such vulnerability with their liberal leaders. Safe seats allow them to funnel the most money and emphasis to incumbent Republican seats. 

To illustrate, understand we are a nation not of red and blue states as much as we are a nation of red and blue counties. In fact, red and blue precincts. In the big cities, the electorate is blue. Very blue. In many of these cities, run down by decades of liberal rule, the vote turn out is huge and it is often 90% Democrat.

Conversely, many more counties and many more precincts in this nation are red.  This is true even in the 2008 debacle. But they are only about 60-40% red.  The vast majority of this country is fairly conservative, yet we are being governed by enclaves of slums and limousine liberals that are extremely liberal. Look at the map!

If we could vote by acreage, the GOP would have routed the Democrats. (And a good case could be made for that, but that's another book). But the Dems can run up enough of a vote tally in one urban ward full of housing projects to balance several rural counties.

It gets worse. In a state like North Carolina, there is a disturbing and counter productive trend going on. Liberals are fleeing northern states due to high taxes and other business-killing liberal policies and coming to North Carolina for jobs. And damned if they aren't now voting in the exact same kind of politician they tried to flee by leaving New York, New Jersey, Michigan and so on. They are turning Carolina blue, but thanks to the inner cities in the states they left, no such reciprocal effect is taking place in the states they fled.

As has been said, you can't fight demographics. So what is the GOP to do? Some inside the Beltway will say the party must diversify and moderate to prevent destruction. These are the folks who ran the McCain campaign. McCain lost the big tent moderates by 21 points. Clearly this is not the answer.

The only answer is to start winning some arguments. We have to start changing some minds. We need to educate. You know -- like who really caused 9-11 and the collapse of Fannie Mae -- as we look backward. As we look forward, perhaps the argument of how liberal oil policy and confiscatory union thugs are the reason Detroit and Michigan are in the tank, not George Bush and capitalism. And so on.

But to win some arguments, you must HAVE some arguments. This is something people named Dole, Bush and McCain don't seem to understand.  If we don't start, Carolina blue is just the beginning.
The voting shift in this nation is largely about two dynamics: safe seats and the Carolina blues. To get a really good close-up glimpse of what demographic problems the Republican Party is facing in the national electorate, one has to look no further than the North Carolina Senate race lost by Elizabeth Dole.

The loss by Dole was not simply a result of the headwinds (self-inflicted as they were) that all GOP candidates faced in 2008, though that was a factor. The Dole loss was more than that. Dole lost a senate seat held by Republicans since 1972. Dole lost the "Jesse Helms" seat.  Truth be told, she never filled it adequately, but at least she did win it in 2002 against Clintonite Erskine Bowles.

Consider: Counting the 30 plus 6 years that Helms and then Dole occupied that seat, and the multiple terms served by conservative Democrat B. Everett Jordan before that,  this is a seat  soon to be occupied by a liberal for the first time in modern American political history. The other N.C. seat has gone back and forth between the parties for the past four decades, but this is a loss of the Helms seat.  This is seismic.

For decades, the Senate has been on a Helms-Kennedy continuum. It wasn't an official delineation of course, but the conservative Helms and the liberal Ted Kennedy counter balanced each other. Until Barack Obama came along, all U.S. Senators were somewhere left of Jesse and right of Teddy. Oh I know that technically Socialist Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Joe Biden of Delaware vote a smidge more liberally than Kennedy, but of the big time figures, Helms and Kennedy set the philosophical boundaries. There was a semblance of equilibrium -- or so it seemed. Helms tugged from the right and Kennedy from the left, and most legislation ended up somewhere in between.

The huge difference now is that the Kennedy seat is safe. Period. Kennedy, even with his cancer, could probably have that seat deeded to him and whoever his handpicked successor will be for the next five election cycles. And whoever that successor will be, you can bet it will be a hard core leftist.

This is true of just about every single hard left senator or house member in the United States Congress. Folks like Kennedy, Barney Frank, Henry Waxman, Maxine Waters, Chris Dodd, Robert Wexler, and many more fit this category. It does not matter how wrong they are on policies, how whacko they are in hearings, or how corrupt they are with chunks of money in their freezers or with sweetheart  mortgages from Fannie Mae lenders (not to mention gay prostitution rings in their apartments), these folks are lifers. Not pro-lifers mind you. Congressional lifers. And there is no way to abort their lifetime selections. Their collective voice tugs the two houses of congress to the left, and there is no counter balance anymore.

The Helms seat was always tenuous. Every time Jesse was up for election, millions upon millions of dollars of non-North Carolina cash flowed into the coffers of his opponent and it mattered not who the opponent was. Truth be told, Helms lost almost every pre-election poll ever taken, yet won all five races. All closely. The mega millions poured into the Tar Heel state never defeated him, but it did moblize many voters who defeated other Republicans.

And this is true of many of the most conservative members in the House and Senate. Their seats are vulnerable and the left mobilizes huge throngs of donors and 527's and ACORN voters each cycle to target a handful of them. And they are picking them off, one by one. They can do this. They face no such vulnerability with their liberal leaders. Safe seats allow them to funnel the most money and emphasis to incumbent Republican seats. 

To illustrate, understand we are a nation not of red and blue states as much as we are a nation of red and blue counties. In fact, red and blue precincts. In the big cities, the electorate is blue. Very blue. In many of these cities, run down by decades of liberal rule, the vote turn out is huge and it is often 90% Democrat.

Conversely, many more counties and many more precincts in this nation are red.  This is true even in the 2008 debacle. But they are only about 60-40% red.  The vast majority of this country is fairly conservative, yet we are being governed by enclaves of slums and limousine liberals that are extremely liberal. Look at the map!

If we could vote by acreage, the GOP would have routed the Democrats. (And a good case could be made for that, but that's another book). But the Dems can run up enough of a vote tally in one urban ward full of housing projects to balance several rural counties.

It gets worse. In a state like North Carolina, there is a disturbing and counter productive trend going on. Liberals are fleeing northern states due to high taxes and other business-killing liberal policies and coming to North Carolina for jobs. And damned if they aren't now voting in the exact same kind of politician they tried to flee by leaving New York, New Jersey, Michigan and so on. They are turning Carolina blue, but thanks to the inner cities in the states they left, no such reciprocal effect is taking place in the states they fled.

As has been said, you can't fight demographics. So what is the GOP to do? Some inside the Beltway will say the party must diversify and moderate to prevent destruction. These are the folks who ran the McCain campaign. McCain lost the big tent moderates by 21 points. Clearly this is not the answer.

The only answer is to start winning some arguments. We have to start changing some minds. We need to educate. You know -- like who really caused 9-11 and the collapse of Fannie Mae -- as we look backward. As we look forward, perhaps the argument of how liberal oil policy and confiscatory union thugs are the reason Detroit and Michigan are in the tank, not George Bush and capitalism. And so on.

But to win some arguments, you must HAVE some arguments. This is something people named Dole, Bush and McCain don't seem to understand.  If we don't start, Carolina blue is just the beginning.