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Hullabaloo


Friday, January 16, 2004

 
The Base Part II

Nick Confessore at TAPPED discusses the "bringing in new voters" meme and highlights some interesting information from an article (subscriber only) by John Harwood in today's Wall Street Journal.

Granted, Dean laid out his swing voter strategy in the article I linked in my earlier post, but according to this article he is also saying in Iowa this week:

"We can't beat George Bush with the same people who voted in 2000.The only way we can beat George Bush is by attracting people who have given up on politics."


Now, I don't have any beef with Dean saying this. It's a big part of his appeal and his strategy. But, I confess that I'm always skeptical of any politicians ability to deliver on the claim because I went through those years in the 70's and 80's when Democrats often said it and it never turned out to be true. (In fact, just last fall, everyone including the candidate himself said that Schwarzenegger was going to pull a Jesse Ventura and bring in a bunch of new voters and that didn't turn out to be true either. He won with an average turn-out of the usual suspects including the support of 20% self-professed liberal Democrats.)

However, that does not mean it isn't true this time, so I'm keeping an open mind. As always, I'd like to believe it because ... well, I'm a loyal Democrat and I'd genuinely like to see an influx of voters who have been turned off by politics in the past. Confessore doesn't seem to think it's likely and I have to admit that this excerpt from the WSJ piece doesn't soothe my worries about this strategy:

There's no doubt that rousing new enthusiasm in the country as a whole will prove more difficult for Mr. Dean than it has been in the nomination contest. A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows greater Democratic sympathies for Mr. Dean among those who aren't registered to vote than among those who are. But among all unregistered voters, there isn't a greater propensity to vote for Mr. Dean -- either in the Democratic race or in the general election.

In fact, those not registered are slightly more supportive of the Iraq war than Americans as a whole. So are younger voters, whom Mr. Dean has been counting on but who have rarely turned out in large numbers. An exception was Mr. Ventura's third-party win. So far, "Dean is no Jesse Ventura" when it comes to drawing young voters, observes Robert Teeter, who conducts the Journal/NBC poll with his Democratic counterpart Peter Hart.


Confessore adds:

Let's recap. Democrats not registered to vote are slightly more pro-Dean, but the non-voting masses are not -- in part, it would seem, because they are actually more pro-war than registered voters. So that doesn't exactly net out to Dean's benefit. And although you see a lot of media coverage about Dean's capacity to excite young voters, that group isn't exactly coming out in droves for the guy -- again, probably in part because they are relatively pro-war.






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