The Presidential Race Feels Like It Is Shifting

In a video blog Tuesday, I talked about my sense of where things stood this week - Obama's masterful foreign trip, his consistent 4-8 lead in the national polls and strong showing in the Electoral College and McCain's growing desperation as his bumbling campaign senses this thing slipping away from them (is it really possible that on the day McCain wanted to visit an offshore rig, weather blocked him, and a polluting spill took place?)

As we all await Senator Obama's speech in Berlin today, my sense is that these emerging impressions of Obama's strength and McCain's weakness may be hardening into conventional wisdom with the media and those following the race closely (we predicted this a few weeks ago, and wrote about it again here). David Broder speaks to this sentiment in his column today. It will be interesting to see if this week, which has done so much to highlight the very stark contrast between these two campaigns, shows up in the polls over the next 10 days or so. So far, there is not a lot of evidence that it has. But time will tell.

Whatever happens with the polls in the short term, this race has achieved a stable dynamic. The Obama campaign is winning, performing well, taking big swings. The McCain camp is stumbling, not really ready for primetime, and is losing the race. I didn't think this dynamic would change all that much until we hit the two Conventions, but perhaps this week will give Obama a few points. Given all this, the central question of this race now is can McCain somehow change the dynamic of the race? I am very doubtful. His campaign is not very good. He is a weak and bumbling candidate, not capable through his public appearances of turning it around. The issue environment is unfavorable to him, with foreign policy quickly becoming less and less an area of opportunity for him. The central argument of his new TV campaign - that he has a plan to lower gas prices and Obama is to blame for high energy prices - is simply untrue, and not really sustainable over time. It is no longer clear to me whether McCain really has the capacity to alter this emerging dynamic in the campaign on his own.

While there is a long way to go in this race, this week is beginning to feel like a seminal one in the campaign, one in which a new and powerful dynamic kicked in, one, that if it holds, will have Obama winning in the fall, and the Democrats having more power in Washington than they've had in 40 years.

Update: Related to this emerging question of whether McCain and his team are really ready for primetime, see this new piece by Fred Kaplan in Slate.

NDN to Host Ambassador of Colombia Tomorrow

NDN will host the next in its series of Latin American Policy Initiative forums tomorrow, Tuesday, July 22, at 9:30 a.m. The guest for tomorrow's forum is the Honorable Carolina Barco, Colombian Ambassador to the United States, who will talk about issues of importance to Colombia. A 45-minute panel will be followed by a 30-minute Q&A session.

Tomorrow's policy forum follows this weekend's mass protests against kidnappings by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the recent dramatic rescue of several of those hostages, and will serve as an opportunity to speak to the Ambassador prior to President Bush's remarks in honor of Colombian Independence Day, scheduled for tomorrow afternoon at the White House.

LAPI Forum with Colombian Ambassador Carolina Barco
Tuesday, July 22
9:30 a.m.-11 a.m.
Reserve Officers
Association Building
5th Floor
One Constitution Ave., NE

NDN Influencing Debate

For years, NDN has been a leader on Hispanic issues, including comprehensive immigration reform and analysis of Latino demographic and voting trends. In the last few months, NDN has set out to make the argument that Hispanic and immigrant voters have become a critical voting bloc in the United States and will play a pivotal role this fall and in all future elections. Our arguments went public in a big way in late May as we released Hispanics Rising II, an in-depth, updated look at Hispanic demographic and voting trends and the critical role that the Hispanic community is playing in U.S. politics. Below are some of the articles relevant to our argument as well as Andres's presentation at NCLR's Conference in San Diego last week:

Latino turnout could hold key to White House - San Francisco Chronicle, by Tyche Hendricks, May 21, 2008

Obama closes in on Democratic nomination - Xinhua General News Service, by Yang Qingchuan, May 21, 2008.

Obama looks west in electoral map play - Politico, by Carrie Budoff Brown, May 27, 2008

Favorece voto latino a demócratas por tema de inmigración en EU - El Financiero, May 28, 2008

Obama woos key states with accent on Spanish - Financial Times, By Andrew Ward in Reno, Nevada, and Edward Luce in Washington, May 29, 2008

Group predicts record Hispanic turnout in next presidential election - Mashall News Messenger, by Bob Deans, May 29, 2008

Democratic Group Says Hispanic Voters Run to Democratic Party - Kansas City Infozine, by Christian A. Cheairs, May 29, 2008

Election 2008: Latino vote could be pivotal in Western states - San Jose Mercury News, By Frank Davies, May 29, 2008

El voto latino aumenta y se vuelve más demócrata - La Opinion, Pilar Marrero, May 29, 2008

Obama va por el voto hispano - CNN Espanol, May 29, 2008

Obama's E Pluribus Challenge - Rolling Stone, June 04, 2008

Obama leads in battle for Latino vote - Los Angeles Times, by Reed Johnson, June 06, 2008

Obama en busca del voto latino - La Opinion, by Pilar Marrero, June 06, 2008

Hispanics will be Obama's big challenge - Miami Herald, by Andres Oppenheimer, June 08, 2008

Spanish-language media key to victory with Latinos - Politico, by Gebe Martinez, June 10, 2008

El voto latino será crucial en 2008 - Univision, June 13, 2008

Shift on immigration could cost McCain - St. Petersburg Times, by Alex Leary and Wes Allison, June 21, 2008

The swing states of 2008 - Salon.com, by Thomas F. Schaller, June 24, 2008

Obama, McCain make strong bid for Latino votes - San Francisco Chronicle, by Carla Marinucci, June 26, 2008

McCain, Obama battle for Hispanic votes - The Hill, by Roxana Tiron, June 28, 2008

Swinging for Latinos - New Mexico Independent, by Marjorie Childress, July 1, 2008

Hispanic voters gaining strength in key states - Associated Press, by Stephen Ohlemacher, July 2, 2008

McCain revs efforts to woo Hispanic voters - The Arizona Republic, by Dan Nowicki, July 10, 2008

POLITICS: Latinos expected to play key role in presidential election - North County Times, CA, by Edward Sifuentes, Saturday, July 12, 2008

Obama prepara un "llamado a las trincheras" durante un foro hispano - EFE News Service, Andres's interview with Maria Pena, July 13, 2008.

NPR: 'Bush Hispanics' Say Goodbye To GOP, by Jennifer Ludden, July 13, 2008

McCain woos Latinos, touts immigration votes - San Francisco Chronicle, by Carla Marinucci, July 15, 2008

Is Cheney Tied Up Somewhere?

Austin, TX - The Administration agrees to a "time horizon" for removing our troops from Iraq. A senior diplomat is sitting down with an Iran nuclear negotiator. Secretary Gates publically calls for troops to be moved from Iraq to Afghanistan. The EPA releases a report confirming the very real and imminent threat of climate change. Bush agrees to cut greenhouse emissions at the G8. Taken together, this seems like an across-the-board repudiation of many fiercely held Bush Administation positions, all closely associated with the Vice President.

Where's Dick and his team of neocons in all this? There are of course many areas where the Administration seems deeply dug in, but change has come to the White House. Why, for what reasons, this is all happening now, it is too soon to tell. But change nevertheless has come to the White House in the final months of the Bush Administration.

1030am - Lots of talk here about Maliki's endorsement of Obama's timetable for withdrawal. What an extraordinary moment in what has been a remarkable political year, and what will no doubt be an important, even historic, trip abroad by U.S. Sen. Barack Obama. Even Maliki has joined the neocon repudiation chorus.

1035am - Speaker Pelosi is doing a remarkable job here at Netroots Nation. I am very proud of her for recognizing the importance of this gathering, and her thoughtful and powerful presence here this morning.

1050am - Asked about her agenda, the Speaker said health care, her innovation agenda, infrastructure and green energy. And throughout her 10-ten talk, her language was modern, her understanding of the issues detailed, her ability to weave a narrative compelling. I'm not sure too many politicians of either Party could have done as good as a job as she is doing this morning.

1120am - Gore has arrived, and is just knocking the ball out of the park.  He is as good as I've ever seen him.  He has captured the room, and I have to believe has now officially engaged/involved the netroots in his crusade.  This is an important day in the development of a national movement to solve the climate crisis. 

Amazingly, Gore and Pelosi are now just sitting and taking questions. This has been a great morning.  Kudos to Gina for her stage management of this powerful session. 

Barack on Iraq

Senator Obama has an op-ed in the New York Times today restating his vision for the future of our policy in Iraq, even as the political terrain on the issue begins to shift.

Menendez: On Immigration, McCain "Walked Away."

From a piece by Sam Stein on the Huffington Post:

One of Congress' most influential Hispanic members says that John McCain "walked away" from the Latino community and is not a "person of principle" on immigration reform -- a perception that could haunt the Arizona Republican in the general election.

In an interview with The Huffington Post, Sen. Robert Menendez offered a scathing rebuke of McCain, painting him as a candidate who sold his political soul to secure his party's presidential nomination.

"In my mind, he has dramatically shifted. He has really taken a Republican tact," said the New Jersey Democrat. "It seems to me, and it is out there in the community, that he walked away at a critical time. And when you take that view, which shows that he is not the person of principle that he would like to show himself being, and you wear the Republican mantle that is so negative and anti-immigrant... I think it is very hard for John McCain to make hay with Latinos at the end of the day." 

More evidence of an Obama bounce, other thoughts on the fall election

As Andres reports below, MSNBC and the Wall Street Journal have released a new poll showing it 47-41 Obama-McCain, very similar numbers to previous polls over the the last two weeks. Some thoughts on where the race seems to be now:

There should no longer be any doubts about Obama's general election appeal, or his ability to put together a winning coalition - four major polls now show the same thing - an African American with a funny name is clearly defeating a celebrated and universally known American war hero, who in this race is more incumbent than challenger. While we have a long way to go, consider this passage from the new MSNBC analysis, which shows Obama winning among Hispanics, women, white women, Catholics, independents and blue-collar workers:

In the head-to-head matchup, Obama leads McCain among African Americans (83-7 percent), Hispanics (62-28), women (52-33), Catholics (47-40), independents (41-36) and even blue-collar workers (47-42). Obama is also ahead among those who said they voted for Clinton in the Democratic primaries (61-19).

Yet among white men — who made up 36 percent of the electorate in the 2004 presidential election — Obama trails McCain by 20 points, 55-35 percent. “That is the reason why this election is close,” Hart notes.

In addition, McCain leads Obama among white suburban women (44-38), group which makes up about 10 percent of all voters that Hart calls “absolutely critical” for both candidates in the fall.

However, Obama has a seven-point advantage (46-39) among all white women. How important is that lead? Newhouse explains that Republican candidates always expect to win white men by a substantial margin, but it is white women that usually decide the race. “If a Republican wins among white women, we usually win that election,” he says, noting that George W. Bush carried that group in 2000 and 2004.


Among Hispanics McCain is showing surprising weakness Obama surprising strength - As we've written before, McCain is now 15 points net below Bush's 2004 numbers with Hispanics. This shift with this community, voting at much higher numbers than 2004, could end up swinging four states Bush won to the Democrats - CO, FL, NM, NV - and perhaps making AZ and TX competitive.

McCain is not ahead in a single state Democrats won in 2004 - New polling out this week shows Obama now leading McCain in MI and WI, two states he had previously been ahead in. One of the arguments the McCain camp has been making is that he has the ability to play on Democratic turf. NDN has long believed this argument to be more spin than reality, as the it is hard to believe that in this year of a very damanged GOP brand with a weak, wobbly candidate at its top that McCain could break the lock of the 19 states equaling 248 electoral votes Democrats have won in each of the last four elections. With the only two (MI, WI) of these 19 states McCain had been leading in moving to Obama, the race is now moving to nine states Bush won in 2000 or 2004 - CO, FL, IA, MO, NC, NH, NM, NV, VA and perhaps other states like AZ, MT and TX (see these electoral college maps NDN has produced to help visualize all this).

I am not in any way suggesting that states like MI and WI won't be contested by McCain, but the notion that there is a clear opening for him in these 19 states with 248 electoral college votes is more spin than reality. Look for the candidate time and TV ads to begin moving to these other states, which are the true 2008 battlegrounds now. For more on the emergence of a new post-Southern Strategy electoral strategy for the Democrats see our recent magazine article, a 50-Year Strategy.

We are seeing a very new electorate emerge in 2008 - Every poll has to make assumptions about the composition of the electorate to produce its results. Given the huge increase in turnout this year of African-Americans, Hispanics, Millennials and women, and an enormous shift in party ID towards the Dems, this electorate will look very different from any electorate any pollster has ever seen before. This electorate will not only be much more non-white than any electorate we've ever seen, it will be much less white and male than any electorate we've ever seen, and have fewer Republicans than we've seen since at least 1982, perhaps even 1966 (see this essay for more on the growing power of minorities in American politics).

It will also be important to not overstate the role of independents in the race. In the hyper-partisan era of Rove and Bush the number of unaffiliated voters has dropped, with independents only making up 26 percent of the electorate in the last two elections, significantly down from the general rule of thumb of one-third D/R/I. Bush has created more partisans, and from 2004 to 2006, more votes shifted in the two parties than it did among independents, as partisans now outnumber independents by 3:1. Democrats owed their victory in 2006 more to what happened with the two party's partisans than what happened with independents.

Thus, one of the key numbers to watch this year is how well each candidate is doing with their own partisans. If Democrats continue to outnumber Republicans in the electorate by 10-15 points as they do now, it will be just as important for Obama to keep 92-95 percent share of Democrats as it is for him to win independents. And the same is true for McCain. If his weakness with the GOP base causes his share with his own partisans to drop below 90 percent, he will have a very, very hard time winning this election. See this post for more on the declining clout of independents.

Remember that Kerry won both independents and moderates in 2004 and still lost. Bush did much better with his partisans than Kerry did with his. For both Obama and McCain, their partisans will outnumber independents in their own coaliton by at least 3 to 1, and thus at least as much attention needs to be paid to these voters as the media's holy grail of the independents. Thus, in this election I think you will be seeing much more attention being paid to each party's base - for different reasons - than in past elections. Given the intensity and much more highly networked Democratic base, this is a big, big problem for McCain.

One question pollsters should start asking this cycle should involve the likelihood to take an action on behalf of a candidate. My guess is that Obama supporters are twice as likely to do something for their man than McCain supporters, which in this networked age when a supporter can do so much more than ever before, could become a huge differentiator in the fall election.

Overall, in our much more partisan and networked age, when the barrier to enter into politics has been so lowered, the partisans in both camps have become much more important than they were in late 20th century politics. There are more of them then before, and with all the new tools, there is much more they can do to help their candidate - money, advocacy to their social networks and neighborhoods, voting.

Thursday Update - Gallup has a look at all this today. While the number of independents in their analysis is the traditional one-third, they look at what the Party ID shift means for the fall. In their current polling Obama is only getting 78 percent of Democrats. Kerry got 89 percent. If nothing else changes in the election if Obama simply matches Kerry's number with Democrats - as one would expect he would - he will win with 51-52 percent of the vote.

Thurs 415pm Update - Josh Marshall posts a new WI poll showing double digit leads for Obama in a head to head with McCain and and the Dems in Party ID. Further evidence that the McCain "playing on Democratic turf" argument isn't holding up very well.

Thurs 6pm Update - Chris Cillizza has own take on the Party ID shift and the collapse of the GOP brand.

Fri am Update - This am EJ Dionne examines the Party ID gap and the new emerging dynamic in this year's election.

Obama, pride, and possibility

Watching all this tonight I feel pride, and a powerful sense of possibility. I am proud of our nation, I am proud of Senator Clinton and I am proud of Senator Obama, his family and his remarkable campaign.

As each day goes by I am more and more convinced that we are entering a new age of politics, an age of possibility, where so much is possible now, where we can imagine, imagine a tomorrow and an America so much better than today.

I end my brief post by reposting something I wrote just after Senator Obama's impressive win in the Iowa Caucuses, called Obama, Race and the end of the Southern Strategy:

For the past several years NDN has been making an argument that for progressives to succeed in the coming century they would have to build a new majority coalition very different from the one FDR built in the 20th century. The nation has changed a great deal since the mid-20th century, as we've become more Southern and Western, suburban and exurban, Hispanic and Asian, immigrant and Spanish-speaking, more millennial and aging boomer and more digital age in our life and work habits than industrial age. 21st century progressive success would require building our politics around these new demographic realities.

Looking at the leadership of the Democratic Party today, there is cause for optimism on this score. The four leading Presidential candidates includes a mixed race Senator of African descent, an accomplished and powerful woman, a border state governor of Mexican descent and a populist from the new South. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi represent areas west of the Rockies. Taken together these leaders represent a very different kind of politics, a 21st century politics, for the Democrats.

But of all these great changes the one that may be most important today is the growth of what we call the "minority" population. When I was born in 1963 the country was almost 89 percent white, 10.5 percent African-American and less than 1 percent other. The racial construct of America was, and had been for over hundreds of years, a white-black, majority-minority construct, and for most of our history had been a pernicious and exploitive one. Of course the Civil Rights Movement (particularly the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act) began to change our understanding of race around the time of my birth, but it was the Immigration Act of 1965 that changed the face of America. That act changed who would enter America, reorienting our new immigrant pool from Europe, as it had been for over 300 years, to Latin America and Asia. And America changed.

As the chart below shows, today America is 66 percent white and 33 percent "minority". While the African-American population has grown a bit, most of that increase has come from the recent historic wave of Asian and Hispanic immigrants. In my half a lifetime the "minority" population in the United States has tripled. When I was born one of out ten people walking around America were non-white. Today it is one out of three.

I think it is safe to say that America is going through the most profound demographic transformation in its long history. If current trends continue, America will be majority minority in my lifetime or soon thereafter. In a single lifetime we will have gone from a country made up largely of white Europeans to one that looks much more like the rest of the world.

If Senator Obama becomes the Democratic nominee this profound change will become something we all begin to discuss openly. Today the nation is having a big conversation about this change - whether it understands it or not - through our ongoing debate over immigration. While this debate has seen some of the most awful racist rhetoric and imagery since the days of Willie Horton, what should leave us all optimistic is that only 15 percent of the country is truly alarmed about the new wave of immigrants arriving in America. Consistently about 60 percent of the country says we need to leave all the undocumenteds here, indicating a pragmatic acceptance of the changes happening around our people and their families. Once again the uncommon wisdom of the common people appears to be prevailing here, and it is my hope, perhaps my prayer, that if Obama is the nominee American can begin to have a healthy and constructive discussion of our new population rather than what we have seen to date.

My final observation this morning is a point we focus on in our recent magazine article, The 50 Year Strategy. This election is the first post-Southern Strategy election since its early emergence in 1964. The Southern Strategy was the strategy used by Conservatives and the GOP to use race and other means to cleave the South from the Democrats. This strategy - welfare queens, Willie Horton, Reagan Democrats, tough on crime, an aggressive redistricting approach in 1990 - of course worked. It flipped the South (a base Democratic region since Thomas Jefferson's day) to the GOP, giving them majorities in Congress and the Presidency. 20th century math and demography and politics dictated that without the South one could not have a majority in the US. But the arrival of a "new politics" of the 21st century - driven to a great degree by the new demographic realities of America - has changed this calculation, and has thankfully rendered the Southern Strategy and all its tools a relic of the 20th century. As Tom Schaller has noted, today the Democrats control both Houses of Congress without having a majority of southern Congressional seats, something never before achieved by the party of Jefferson, Jackson and Lyndon Johnson.

In our article we lay out what might become the next great majority strategy, one yet unnamed, that we believe may be used by the Democrats to build a durable 21st century majority. It will be built upon an America described above, and will embrace the new diversity of 21st century America at its core. At a strategic level, resistance to the new demographic reality is futile, which is why GOP leaders like George Bush, Ken Mehlman and even the Wall Street Journal's editorial page (here and here) have railed against the GOP's approach to immigration. They rightly understand that positioning their party against this new demography of America may render them as much a 20th century relic as the Southern Strategy itself.

Liberating American politics from the pernicious era of the Southern Strategy should be one the highest strategic priorities for left-of-center politics. Last night a powerful and thoughtful man emerged on the national stage who deeply understands - and is himself the embodiment of - the moral and political imperative of moving beyond this disappointing age. He appears to be summoning the courage, the vision, and the conviction to usher in a whole new - and better - era of politics for America. At its core this new politics will embrace diversity and difference rather than exploit it; at its core this new politics will be defined by hope and tolerance not fear and Tancredoism; at its core this new politics of tolerance is not just a requirement for a more just America here at home, but is a requirement if America is to reassert itself abroad in the much more globalized, multi-polar, interconnected, and open world of the 21st century.

And of course the arrival of this new post-Southern Strategy age of American politics will be accelerated by the extraordinary level of political participation of Millennials, the largest generation in American history, whose life experiences and values are much more Obama than Nixon.

Whatever happens in this campaign, the arrival of Barack Obama and his politics is a welcome development for our nation struggling to find its way in a new and challenging day.

Big drama on cable TV tonight

Whatever ends up happening tonight, the drama in the air -- and on the air -- will surely yield extraordinary viewerships on the various cable TV networks, of course, benefitting both Obama and Clinton. I certainly am planning on watching.

But what the unfolding drama reminds us is how powerful cable TV news has become in recent years. Most of the too many debates this year happened on a cable network. A great deal of the strong analysis - particularly by John King on CNN - has happened on cable. Cable TV news had a banner year, and is well-poised to drive the election coverage more than any other single news outlet this fall.

At NPI, we've written a great deal about how TV and video are changing. For those in the advocacy business, be sure to check out our series on the growing power of cable itself, which can be found over at NPI's site, www.newpolitics.net.

Update: Reuters has a good piece today looking at how much cable news has benefitted from the long primary season.

Will the Democrats Look Forward or Backward in 2008…and Beyond?

Makeovers or realignments occur about every four decades in American politics, resulting in forty years of partisan advantage for the party that catches the next wave of generational and technological change. For the other party, it means spending forty years in the minority. Whether a party prospers or loses ground at the time of a realignment depends, in large part, on whether it is willing to embrace a new coalition of voters that is aligned with the larger changes taking place in society or whether it remains locked in the divisions and debates of the past.

In 1896, the Democrats and William Jennings Bryan looked back to an agrarian America and to Jefferson's and Jackson's "yeoman farmer", leaving it to Republicans William McKinley and Mark Hanna, the Carl Rove of his era, to appeal to an emerging urban America. The result was GOP dominance of U.S. politics for the next forty years.

The Democrats got it right in 1932. That year, spurred by the Depression, Franklin Roosevelt built a coalition based on the economic egalitarianism of the GI Generation, many of whom were blue-collar workers and the children and grandchildren of the last great wave of European immigrants to the United States.

But as late as 1968, many Democrats still wanted to rely on the New Deal coalition even as a young idealist generation, Baby Boomers, attempted to get the party to focus on a different set of concerns including civil rights, women's rights, and opposition to the Vietnam war. The resulting divisions presented an opportunity that the Republicans have exploited ever since.

Now, forty years later, American politics is undergoing another period of political and generational change just as it did in 1896, 1932, and 1968. If the Democratic Party has the courage to embrace a new generation of young voters and the group-oriented values it favors, it can once again recapture the political advantage for the next four decades.

Unfortunately, most of the advice the party is getting on what constitutes a winning coalition in 2008, is being provided by pundits and candidates who seem locked in the politics and divisions of the past. Some tell the party to focus on the "white working class," or "hardworking white people." On the other hand, a recent Wall Street Journal article suggested that the focus should be on "senior citizens," virtually all of whom vote and who, together, comprise about 20-percent of the electorate. But these approaches to coalition building neither recognize the major demographic changes continuing to take place in America nor the factors that lead to political makeovers or realignments.

Throughout history, realignments have been produced by the political coming-of-age of a large, dynamic generation and its use of a new communication technology that mobilizes the opinions and votes of that generation. Today's realignment stems from the emergence of the Millennial Generation (Americans born 1982-2003) and its use of Internet based social networking technologies.

The Millennial Generation is the largest in American history. There are over 90 million Millennials, about four in ten of whom are of voting age, making them just as powerful a force in the 2008 election as the much more frequently touted senior citizen cohort.

The Millennial Generation is also the most diverse in our history. Four in ten are non-white and about 20-percent are the children of at least one immigrant parent. Reflecting their gender-neutral behavior, a majority of college undergraduates are women, for the first time in U.S. history. Solid majorities of Millennials are tolerant on social and racial issues, favorable to governmental intervention and egalitarian policies in the economy, and an activist, but multilateral, approach in foreign affairs. With few exceptions, Millennials have overwhelmingly supported Barack Obama in this year's presidential primaries and caucuses.

At the same time, changes in America's economy and the composition of its population serve to continue the half-century long trend, noted recently by Alan Abramowitz in the Rasmussen Report, of the diminishing contribution of "white working class voters" to the American workforce overall and to the Democratic electorate specifically:


"In the 1950s, manual workers made up 47 percent of the white electorate in the United States while sales and clerical workers made up 21 percent and professional and managerial workers made up 32 percent. By the first decade of the 21st century, however, manual workers made up only 24 percent of the white electorate, while sales and clerical workers made up 33 percent and professional and managerial workers made up 43 percent. Since the 1960s, however, Democratic identification among both white manual workers and white sales and clerical workers has declined sharply while Democratic identification among white professional and managerial workers has risen. Today, white professional and managerial workers are actually more likely to identify with the Democratic Party than either white manual workers or white clerical and sales workers."


As Joel Kotkin and Fred Siegel wrote recently, the Democratic Party is rapidly becoming a party of "gentry liberals", minorities and youth with little resemblance to the working class-based party coalition assembled by FDR almost eighty years ago.

This shift in America's economic dynamics and demographics, coupled with the generational and technological changes the country is experiencing, produces an historic opportunity for the Democratic Party in 2008. In a March 2008 Pew Survey, Millennials identified as Democrats over Republicans by a greater than 2:1 margin. Millennials are the first generation in more than forty years in which a larger number say they are liberal rather than conservative. In contrast to older generations that are sharply divided by sex and race in their ideology and party identification Millennials are united in their political leanings, a fact that serves to enhance the potential decisiveness of this powerful new generation.

All of this gives the Democrats a clear leg-up in the Millennial makeover that's under way. Whether the Democratic Party takes advantage of this historical opportunity largely depends on the choices it makes in building its electoral coalition. Will it look backward, as it did to its detriment in 1896, or forward, as it did in 1932, to its benefit? The consequences of that choice will shape the fate of the party and the nation, not just in 2008, but also for the coming four decades.

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