August 2006 Weddings
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Young moderates Politico article

I found this interesting:

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1008/14993.html

This election promises to offer a fundamental realignment that could stand for decades to come as young moderate voters become the driving force for change in the presidential race. These more socially tolerant, opportunity-oriented voters are the ones likely to put Barack Obama in the White House next week.

In its simplest terms, this election is a complete rejection of President Bush?s policies. But the broader potential is for the election to choke off the Republican Party and its religious right ideology for a generation. A great deal hangs on the new administration?s first 100 days and whether it will be a repeat of 1993 or 1997 ? whether the moderate voters who have shifted to the Democratic column see a decidedly leftward presidency or the moderate administration they have been promised.

While Bush got 45 percent of young voters in 2004, Obama is likely to open up a 20-point gap with this bloc; they grew up knowing only Bill Clinton or George W. Bush as president.

In the latest Zogby poll, Obama won the crucial moderate vote by 2-to-1, 60 percent to 30 percent. Obama wins nearly nine in 10 liberals as well, putting together a strong center-left coalition and leaving John McCain with a big margin only in the sizable conservative bloc.

In contrast, this election is scrambling the votes of  working-class and wealthier voters. The Republicans have been making inroads among the working class, with McCain clinging to Joe the Plumber and leading among voters in the $35,000-to-$50,000 income range and above, reversing the trend under Clinton, who pulled in those voters and more ? up to an income of $75,000. Obama, on the other hand, has closed to just 4 points what was about a 15-point gap among those with incomes over $100,000. Even Clinton lost the top 5 percent income bracket to Bob Dole by 16 points in the exit polls in their 1996 contest. So while the party of Wall Street is getting more votes from Main Street, the party of Andrew Jackson is gaining more votes from the people of privilege.

Some things are not changing. Religious conservatives remain heavily with McCain ? he is ahead with born-agains by almost 2-to-1. And Obama is strengthening his vote among all nonwhite voters, garnering record numbers of Democratic African-American voters and piling up a strong Hispanic vote as well ? much stronger than John F. Kerry?s showing in 2004. In that election, Bush won more than 40 percent of the Latino vote. McCain, despite being an early supporter of comprehensive immigration reform, is polling in the 20s among Hispanics, which is threatening his hold on Florida and key Southwestern states as well. Obama, meanwhile, is losing the white vote by 10 points to 12 points ? a far smaller margin than Kerry?s. Latinos will be expecting immigration reform once and for all, and Obama will have to decide what to do about his advertised pledge to grant driver?s licenses to illegal immigrants.  

The election seems to be heading toward a reaffirmation of moderate Democratic economic policies. In a fascinating turnabout, Obama soundly outpolls McCain on both the economy and health care ? a rejection of the Republican laissez-faire principles that increased the ranks of the uninsured and unemployed. But McCain wins on a key issue: who would do better with the Iraq war. Stunningly, the anti-war candidate, Obama, who defeated a primary opponent whose strengths were in health care and the economy, is leading in the polls on those issues now but is narrowly losing the war issue. This clearly is one reason that Obama no longer talks about bringing all troops home by a fairly certain date and instead emphasizes ending the war responsibly.

After the inauguration, campaign position papers will give way to actual legislative policies and choices that will determine whether this new coalition for the Democrats will hold or start to fragment. These new moderate voters are better-educated, more in tune with the information age and far removed from the traditional labor base of the Democratic Party. They are more open to trade and sensitive to tax increases. They also oppose the Iraq war, but they want to see strength in national security. They overwhelmingly will favor new energy policies for ethanol and other biofuels, solar power and wind power.

They reject government handouts but believe that people must be empowered to make the most of their own talents. They are looking for new opportunities to become well-off and resume the problem-free lives they had until the economic crisis came along and shook them up.

Thus, the administration probably would be best off dealing with energy first, emphasizing how to end dependence on foreign oil through technological investment as a way of bringing the election coalition together into action. Redoing the bailout legislation should be next, because this was another issue in which moderates stood against the conservative right that opposed the government?s actions.

Legislation to increase open tolerance for gays in the military and extend more benefits to gay couples will be greeted with enthusiasm by young voters, although it could upset the downscale in the traditional Democratic base. Stem cell research is a moderate issue ripe for immediate action that can help cement this fragile new coalition.

Obama?s health care plan was less aggressive than Hillary Rodham Clinton?s plan because it had no mandate (aside from the requirement that parents have insurance for their children) or mechanism for universal care. It does, however, spark a debate about prescription drugs that liberal and moderate Democrats have been waiting eight years to have. The fight over card check (which would require employers to bargain with unions when they obtain signatures on cards from a majority of employees) will please the base without polarizing Obama?s new voters, who don?t consider it important.

Taxes are likely to be a much bigger flash point than one would think. After President George H.W. Bush raised taxes in 1991 and President Bill Clinton did it in 1993, their coalitions weakened significantly. In the polls, Americans favor greater taxes on the wealthy, but in practice, it has backfired on every previous administration as the voters ask for greater fiscal responsibility but resist new taxes.

These new moderate voters are looking for a return to an activist, internationalist president. They are looking for a new generation of leadership that brings them together into one America, one that renews the promise of the country at home and abroad. But these banners will give way to some hard choices in the first few months of the administration, and those choices will determine whether this coalition splinters or cements ? whether it lasts for the long term or comes apart sooner.

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