During my internet career, I’ve spent a lot of time arguing against two ideas. One is the idea that we should try to appeal to the South (which in the context of this argument includes the Great Plains and Northern Rockies). I think that the strip running from North Carolina to Texas, up to North Dakota, across to Idaho, and down to Utah and Wyoming is completely hopeless — and throw in Alaska and Indiana. These states total about 25% of the vote, and we should let the Republicans have them.
I looked at the closest Bush states this year. In order of closeness percentagewise, they were Iowa, Wisconsin, Nevada, Ohio, Florida, New Mexico, and Colorado. With these states Kerry would have won 325-213. In order to get there, about 400,000 voters would have had to switch from Bush to Kerry. There’s not a single Southern state on that list (Florida doesn’t count).
It doesn’t seem right to have the nation as geographically polarized as it is, but it’s a fact of life and we should learn to live with it. Sure, it looks bad on election eve when the map turns red, but the actual numbers aren’t as bad as the picture.
The second idea I often have to fight against is that the Democrats should just be a hip bicoastal party. Without the inland states from Pennsylvania to Iowa, the Democrats are no longer a national party. Some of the things Democrats would have to do to appeal to these states (as well as the states I listed above) are probably the same as what we’d have to do to appeal to carry Mississippi or Utah, but we won’t need as much of it and it would be stupid to use Mississippi or Utah as our standard.
It’s true that the least likely person to vote Democratic is a poor, white, married, rural, churchgoing male from the South. So let’s write those guys off. But some hip Democrats seem to be willing to write off every white male who is either poor, or uneducated, or rural, or married (= heterosexual), or churchgoing. That’s suicidal.
Democrats have to learn to appeal to non-elite white males. That’s not really impossible to do, but we have to work on it.