Thursday, June 6, 2013

College Republicans Offer Advice South Dakota Democrats Should Heed

The College Republican National Committee issued a report examining why Republicans lost the 2012 youth vote so badly. The following paragraph has been getting quite a bit of coverage:
During the January 2013 focus group research, respondents in the Columbus group of young men who voted for Obama were asked to name who they viewed as leaders of the Democratic Party. They named prominent former or currently elected officials: Pelosi, the Clintons, Obama, Kennedy, Gore.When those same respondents were asked to name Republican leaders, they focused heavily on media personalities and commentators: Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck.
The report's subsequent paragraph may be as important:
Yet across all six groups, when the topic turned to future leaders of the parties, the GOP was clearly in a stronger position. Asked to name up-and-coming Republican stars, these young Obama voters could point to a number of examples. Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, Bobby Jindal, and Rand Paul were all mentioned.
In short, people recognized as leaders should be likable and actually be leaders. Also, it's good to have young members ready to step up. The people the focus group identified as Republican leaders are an unlikable lot unless one is a true believer.

There may be two things worse than leaders outsiders despise: leaders true believers don't trust and leaders outsiders can't identify. South Dakota Democrats have few recognizable leaders, and they have fewer young leaders.

I doubt most South Dakotans can name ten in-state Democratic leaders. I'd even make a small wager that most voters** cannot add a single name to a list containing the names Tom Daschle, Tim Johnson, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, Brendan Johnson, Rick Weiland, and Bernie Hunhoff. Daschle lost in 2004; Tim Johnson is retiring, and Brendan Johnson has never run for anything. The liberal wing of the party has a hard time saying anything good about Herseth Sandlin. Weiland has lost twice, and Hunoff seems satisfied with his current position. Only Herseth Sandlin and Brendan Johnson can be considered young.

South Dakota Democrats need to do a lot of ground work over the next few years to develop recognizable leaders whom both Democrats and Republicans respect. If they don't develop new leaders, the state will continue to operate as a single party oligarchy.

**I know Dakota War College has Angie Buhl in the blog's word cloud. Buhl is a young leader, but I doubt that "blog readers" and "most voters" are synonymous.


Pat Powers said...

I'm sure she's there for comedy relief.

Kal Lis said...

Maybe I labeled "word cloud" incorrectly. She's in the "What we're talking about" column.

I always thought you wrote about her as a warning "the liberals are coming."

She survived a class or two of mine, so she's tougher than most give her credit for.