Monday, June 30, 2008
Political statistician Andrew Gelman has produced very interesting graphs of economic and social politics by state. Graph 1 plots the average economic social and economic positions of adults. Some of the results are obvious: Massachusetts is the most liberal and Idaho (those black helicopters are coming) is the most conservative of states. For Democrats hoping to make inroads into Southern states like Georgia, the data are not promising. But swing states Nevada, Virginia, New Mexico, and, yes even North Carolina, show up right in the middle. They could be in play.
When the data are broken out by party (graph 2), the results are a reminder of the biggest difference between Democrats and Republicans: the economy. "Democrats are much more liberal than Republicans on the economic dimension: Democrats in the most conservative states are still much more liberal than Republicans in even the most liberal states," writes Gelman. "On social issues there is more overlap (although in any given state, the average Republican is more conservative than the average Democrat)."
Republicans since Nixon have played the faux populist card, but the GOP is the party of economic special interests. McCain is not anywhere close to winning over swing voters on economic issues. But I worry that the Obama campaign's bipartisanship will consist of ceding ground on the economic issues that still define grassroots Democrats' sense of what is right, while continuing to let the Republicans define the terms of the debate. I hope not.