Monday, April 1, 2013

Political Numbers And A Musing About What They May Portend

David Montgomery points to what can only be considered political malpractice by South Dakota Democrats:
Since statehood, Republicans have won an astonishing 83.2 percent of all statewide elections in South Dakota, a new report has found.
That’s 437 out of 525 victories to the GOP. Democrats won 83, or 15.8 percent.
To put that number in perspective, amateurs can defeat professionals more often than that.  When college all stars played NFL champions, the all stars won 9 of the 42 games for winning percentage of 21.4. The college all stars also tied two games, so the NFL all stars had a 73.8 winning percentage.

Kevin Woster reminds readers that Democrats have been able to hold a U.S. Senate seat for ver five decades:
Since January 1963, Democrats have held at least one seat and often more in the state’s congressional delegation, which shrunk from four seats to three following the 1980 census.
 Woster concludes:
Losing that Senate seat will be a stinging embarrassment for the Democrats. Holding it will be a challenge at least as daunting as it was in 2002.
And this time, they won't have the never-beaten Tim Johnson to do it.
The Democrats won't have Tom Daschle or George McGovern running either. Even though the Democrats have had their best success in Senate races, much of that success has been due to McGovern, Daschle, and Johnson:
The U.S. Senate has been the most fertile hunting grounds for Democrats in the state’s history — and they’ve managed to win just 40 percent of those races, 13 of 33. George McGovern, Tom Daschle and Tim Johnson combine to account for 9 of those victories (and three of those defeats).
If one breaks down the numbers a step further, Democrats have won 4 of 30 without their big three. Given those numbers, it's hard to see a loss this year as an embarrassment. It seems like standard operating procedure.

If South Dakota's Democrats want to change their fortunes to approach the level of the college all-stars, they need to look at statistics that Cory provides at Madville. South Dakota's population is concentrating around Sioux Falls and Rapid City:
Sioux Falls and Rapid City continue to chug along in population growth. New Census estimates show the Sioux Falls metro area (Minnehaha, Lincoln, Turner, and McCook counties) at 237,251 residents. As of 2012, the Rapid City metro area (Pennington and Meade counties) has 138,738 residents. That's 28.5% and 16.6%, respectively, of South Dakota's estimated 833,354 population... or 9 out of 20 South Dakotans living in those two metro hubs. Reach just a little further to include counties closely linked to those metros (Lake and Moody to Sioux Falls; Lawrence to Rapid City), and you likely get an even 50% of South Dakotans whose lives revolve quite significantly around those two major hubs.
Writing in The Atlantic, Josh Kron finds that these numbers may soon change some of South Dakota's voting patterns:
The new political divide is a stark division between cities and what remains of the countryside. Not just some cities and some rural areas, either -- virtually every major city (100,000-plus population) in the United States of America has a different outlook from the less populous areas that are closest to it. The difference is no longer about where people live, it's about how people live: in spread-out, open, low-density privacy -- or amid rough-and-tumble, in-your-face population density and diverse communities that enforce a lower-common denominator of tolerance among inhabitants.
Kron goes on to point out that cities are blue even in red states:
The gap is so stark that some of America's bluest cities are located in its reddest states. Every one of Texas' major cities -- Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio -- voted Democratic in 2012, the second consecutive presidential election in which they've done so. Other red-state cities that tipped blue include Atlanta, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Birmingham, Tucson, Little Rock, and Charleston, S.C. -- ironically, the site of the first battle of the Civil War. In states like Nevada, the only blue districts are often also the only cities, like Reno and Las Vegas.
I doubt the population numbers will change anything in 2014. Kron asserts "[t]he voting data suggest that people don't make cities liberal -- cities make people liberal." His point about lifestyle may be correct, but I suspect concentrated organizing efforts also took place. The demographic changes are too recent to produce the necessary attitudinal changes. More importantly, South Dakota's Democrats don't seem to be willing to invest the organizational efforts necessary to take advantage of those changes.


caheidelberger said...

Yet even in our two big cities, the Dems get clobbered. They can't win any Legislative seats in Rapid City, and last year they won only 5 of 24 Legislative seats in the Sioux Falls metro area. Our Dem strongholds are the growing but hard to organize reservations, Vermillion, and rural northeast SD. What do we do: send postcards to every rural resident, reminding them that the GOP will cut every government program that keeps rural America alive, then focus all of our recruitment and door-to-door campaigning in the metro areas?

LK said...

I'm not privy to any Democratic strategy, but it seems that they have concentrated too much on DC races and not enough on the legislative races.

Whoever has the levers of power in the Democratic party has got to start looking at legislative races and Pierre races. The big prize should not be DC especially in this "do nothing" era. Right now the narrative is all about the Senate. Dems should change the narrative to look at Attorney General and Governor. Jackley should be vulnerable. Herseth-Sandlin could make her run for the governor's mansion an effort for the history books

It is easier to organize the urban areas that rural. Also, the more people live in cities, the more they begin to understand that rugged individualism isn't going to solve everything. Some government services are necessary. As a farm boy, a few folks got together, loaded a pile of bad gravel from a neighbor's hill, and filled in pothole or two on the gravel road if the county or township was too slow. Urban residents don't have asphalt or the other equipment to fix a street.

South Dakota isn't going to turn blue, but maybe it won't be it can be a medium rare steak instead of raw red meat state.

Finally, this may be counter-intuitive but some of the liberal fire-breathers need to run in primaries against some of the moderates.If Angie Buhl were to run against Bernie Hunhoff for example, Bernie would start looking pretty moderate. He'd also seem extremely competent. Competent and moderate could defeat someone like Noem.

LK said...

The Hunhoff/Buhl hypothetical is off the table for this cycle.

caheidelberger said...

Bernie! I'm trying to run a poll here. DOn't go changing the playing field mid-poll! ;-)