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Old 12-15-2004, 11:00 PM   #1
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Voting Trends from the 2004 Election

From: http://www.newamerica.net/index.cfm?...cle&DocID=2083

Parent Trap

By Joel Kotkin
Irvine Senior Fellow
and William Frey
Fellow, Brookings Institution

The New Republic
December 2, 2004

It was, perhaps, appropriate that Democrats held their convention this summer in Boston--a charming old city of declining population and fewer and fewer families. The Democrats, after all, may like to think of themselves as the party of working families; but in reality, the exit polls and demographic trends suggest that they are increasingly the party of family dysfunction. To date, analysts have mostly blamed Kerry's loss on a failure to connect with religious voters or to reassure Americans that he would be tough on national security. But in their rush to focus on religion and war, pundits have overlooked what may have been the single most important predictor of the GOP's victory--not Bibles or bullets, but diapers.

This wouldn't be a problem for Democrats if demographic trends in the U.S. mirrored those in much of the rest of the industrialized world. But they don't. Unlike Europe, as well as some advanced Asian countries like South Korea and Japan, the U.S. is a relatively fertile society. Indeed, the U.S. is one of the only industrialized countries to enjoy an increase in its fertility rate since the 1970s. (Average births per woman have increased about 15 percent during that time.) Other signs--rising marriage rates, declining divorce rates, and an overall increase in the number of child-bearing families--all point to a strengthening of the American nuclear family. These are welcome developments for our society. But they could spell doom for the Democratic Party. And until progressives develop a more family-friendly voice, they are likely to spend many more lonely nights in November wondering what went wrong.

Last month, Democrats swept the largely childless cities--true blue locales like San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Boston, and Manhattan have the lowest percentages of children in the nation--but generally had poor showings in those places where families are settling down, notably in the sunbelt cities, exurbs, and outer suburbs of older metropolitan areas. Exit poll data, which is, to be sure, not perfect, suggest that Bush won heavy majorities among married people, who constitute roughly 63 percent of the electorate, and those with children, who represent about 40 percent of voters. In contrast, Kerry fared far better among singles, particularly gay voters and those who never had children. (Two caveats here: Many single people and couples without children are future parents, while the category of single people also includes divorced parents.)

But the problem for Democrats isn't that they are losing among families now. The real problem is that the electoral importance of both nuclear families and the communities where they are congregating is only growing. According to Phillip Longman, a demographer at the New America Foundation, Bush states had a 13 percent higher fertility rate than their blue counterparts, whose base, as he puts it, is essentially "non-replicating."

Over the past 30 years, the bastions of the Democratic Party have been losing people. Some places such as St. Louis, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Detroit have continued to shrink in good times and bad. Since 2000, some of the bright spots among blue cities--such as Minneapolis, Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco--have begun once again to lose population.

Republican regions, by contrast, have continued to grow, in large part because they have become more attractive to families. These include places like Douglas County, Colorado, the nation's fastest growing county, which also has the fourth highest concentration of white children as a percentage of the population of any county in the nation. Located in the Denver suburbs, the county voted two to one for Bush. The same phenomenon can be seen in other fast-growing suburban counties--also mostly white--near Minneapolis (Scott), Dallas (Rockwall, Collin), Washington, D.C. (Loudon), Atlanta (Forsyth), and Columbus, Ohio (Delaware). All have growing populations and all went between 56 and 83 percent for Bush.

(On a side note, the idea that Democrats do best where the college-educated congregate--the so-called "creative class" thesis--is badly damaged by the fact that all these counties have a high proportion of well-educated folks. In fact, Bush and Kerry basically split the votes of college graduates. A big edge with the Harvard faculty is not the same thing as support from educated people--particularly once those educated people have children.)

Assuming that blacks remain stalwart in their affiliation with Democrats, the largest contestable group besides whites is the Latino population--which tends to be more family-oriented than any other group in society. Latinos, for example, are far more likely to have a "traditional" family--that is a mother-father-child household--than whites, blacks, or Asian-Americans.

On the surface these voters--poorer, less educated, minorities--are often assumed to be a natural base for the Democrats, but the 2004 results reveal cause for concern. Places with large concentrations of first generation and poorer Latinos, such as the Rio Grande Valley, Los Angeles County, and the Bronx, voted overwhelmingly for Kerry. But Latino voters in areas with more upwardly mobile voters, and with higher rates of homeownership, such as Maricopa County, Arizona, broke more evenly between the parties.

In fact, across the country, areas with high levels of homeownership tended to vote more heavily for Bush than areas dominated by renters, according to economist Susanne Trimbath. If Latino voters continue to move into the middle class, buy houses, and relocate to more conservative areas--in other words, if they replicate the patterns of white nuclear families who are leaving behind the childless city-centers--Democrats may have a hard time holding on to them.

Given all this, what do Democrats need to do? The unimaginative answer is to say that they should moderate their positions on issues, such as abortion and gay marriage, where the most liberal stance tends to turn off married parents with children. And perhaps they should. But far more important is for Democrats to return to a worldview centered around the baby-making electorate. Historically, Democrats appealed to families by stressing the need to expand home ownership--the GI bill, for example--and by emphasizing the importance of government in providing basic services, such as roads, libraries, and water and power systems, to suburban communities. They were also advocates for educating the middle class, which in the 1950s and '60s moved into suburbia. Today, Democrats too often seem preoccupied with either top universities--home of their much-beloved creative class--or inner-city schools. Improving suburban education needs to be once again placed front and center on the Democrats' agenda.

Perhaps more than anything else, Democrats need a change in style. Democratic legislators too often seem hostile to suburban concerns, and indifferent to the aspirations of those who would like to buy a home and a small green place to call their own. In Albuquerque, for example, planners working for the local Democratic regime advocated banning backyards, an essential part of the middle-class family lifestyle. One even told a local developer that his having four children made him "immoral." A small--and probably extreme--example? Undoubtedly. But it speaks to a stereotype that Democrats have been battling for years now: that they disdain suburbia and the families who live there. It is long past time for Democrats to start undoing that perception.

Finally, Democrats might want to consider a change of venue for their next convention. They have held their last four gatherings in four of America's most liberal cities--New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Boston. Maybe next time, they should hold their convention in Houston, Orlando, or Phoenix, where families are growing, people are moving, and the future of this remarkably fertile nation is being nurtured. It's worth a try, because, after all, Democrats have little choice. Demographics will not save them. On the contrary, the Democrats' task now is to try to save themselves from demographics.

Copyright: 2004 The New Republic
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Old 12-16-2004, 05:37 AM   #2
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Kerry didn't kiss enough babies. Just joking! This is interesting; what is it about being married and having kids and voting? A sense that you've got to keep society stable in some way? As someone who isn't married I wouldn't know.
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Old 12-16-2004, 10:04 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by verte76
Kerry didn't kiss enough babies. Just joking! This is interesting; what is it about being married and having kids and voting? A sense that you've got to keep society stable in some way? As someone who isn't married I wouldn't know.
It just seems as though completed families are more conservative, than those who want independence from marriage. When parents have kids, they probably see society differently. They want to protect their kids from sex, drugs, all that stuff. Conservatives are outspoken about this kind of stuff. The youth tend to be more liberal, whereas the families tend to be more conservative. A conservative may have an easier time identifying himself as a family man. They have a way of connecting with a conservative audience, and to many conservatives, the word "family values" simply means protecting your kids and having a good relationship with them. That way, they don't have to go into details about what's showing in the movies and elsewhere.

I personally think the Lewinsky scandal played a historical role in how liberals are viewed. Not just Clinton, but how almost every liberal out there stood by him, and spat that it's nobody's business what the president does in the Oval Office. That's a huge difference in values, and it empowered the right quite a bit. Sometimes I wonder what it takes to get a liberal to resign.
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Old 12-16-2004, 10:14 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by Macfistowannabe
It just seems as though completed families are more conservative, than those who want independence from marriage. When parents have kids, they probably see society differently. They want to protect their kids from sex, drugs, all that stuff.
This is absolutely outrageous on a couple of different levels.

1.) How is it that some families are "incomplete"? As the daughter of divorced parents, I am, frankly, pretty damn offended by the notion that my family is incomplete just because I don't have a still-married mom and dad, 1.2 siblings and a fluffy little dog. I really don't think I'll be the only person a bit annoyed by the suggestion that my family unit needs "completion."

2.) When liberal parents have kids, they do not, in fact, have a box of condoms and a heroin needle in the children's grubby little fingers by the age of three. Liberal parents want to protect their children just as much as conservative ones, and the suggestion that non-conservative parents don't really care about keeping their kids from sex and drugs is completely appalling.

I really hate the suggestion, too (it was in the original article, not so much in Macfistowannabe's post), that somehow single people who are voluntarily childless are somehow less moral or less concerned about the future of the country. Tell that to Catholic nuns who crusade on a daily basis against poverty, abuse, violence, and injustice. Tell that to medical students who are delaying or avoiding having children because they are devoted to medicine. Tell that to laypersons who live in simple religious community to run shelters and schools.

This whole thread pisses me off.
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Old 12-16-2004, 10:33 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by paxetaurora


This is absolutely outrageous on a couple of different levels.

1.) How is it that some families are "incomplete"? As the daughter of divorced parents, I am, frankly, pretty damn offended by the notion that my family is incomplete just because I don't have a still-married mom and dad, 1.2 siblings and a fluffy little dog. I really don't think I'll be the only person a bit annoyed by the suggestion that my family unit needs "completion."
The original poster probably meant it in terms of what is traditionally considered to be "complete".


Quote:
Originally posted by paxetaurora

I really hate the suggestion, too (it was in the original article, not so much in Macfistowannabe's post), that somehow single people who are voluntarily childless are somehow less moral or less concerned about the future of the country.
Well, as an ex-single person who is now married with 3 kids, I pay a LOT more attention to song lyrics, movie ratings, etc. than I used to.

It's not that I didn't care before, but it's more of a priority now, and it typically is NOT a priority for single childless person to give 2 hoots whether Green Days says "fuck" in any of their songs or whether kids are being taught about the pros and cons of abstinence vs safe sex vs unbridled promiscuity.

Note, "typically" does not = "Everybody"
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Old 12-16-2004, 10:41 AM   #6
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Yes, but what is "traditionally" considered to be "complete" has no bearing on how I feel about that. My family is not incomplete--it never was, and never will be--even though it wouldn't be considered "traditionally complete." And Macfistowannabe didn't make it clear that this is what he intended, nor did he make any attempt at including "nontraditional" families, if you will, into the circle of "complete" families.

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Old 12-16-2004, 10:53 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by paxetaurora
Macfistowannabe didn't make it clear that this is what he intended, nor did he make any attempt at including "nontraditional" families, if you will, into the circle of "complete" families.

Both the geographics and demographics fascinate me in a way. I didn't necessarily want to imply that nontraditional families are incomplete. Looking back at my post, I'm basically implying that when a man gets a woman pregnant, he should take responsibility to help out. I don't know if "complete" was a safe way to put it, in retrospect. No doubt this article is one-sided, and he uses some shady terminology. I apologize if some of it might have been offensive. What I'd really like to get at is this: what would having children do for you? Would it make you more concerned about society?
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Old 12-16-2004, 10:57 AM   #8
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Some of it was pretty offensive, yes. Particularly, I think, to those here who already know they plan on being voluntarily childless.

Let me make this clear that I don't think it was your *intent* to offend, and I'm not going to close the thread or anything, but I think the article definitely implies that the voluntarily childless are, as a rule, less concerned about society. Which I have a huge problem with.

I don't know yet whether I'll be a mother someday or not, but as someone who cares for very young children on a regular basis, as an older sister, and as a daughter, I am very concerned about the direction of our society--biological children of my own or not.
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Old 12-16-2004, 11:05 AM   #9
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wow, where to start...

i am one of the many who has to chosen to remain without children. for reasons i do not care to get into here, i do not see myself having children, ever.

how does this affect my concerns about society? it doesn't. we childless people have to live in the same society as everyone else, and to imply that childless people are somehow more apathetic/disengaged/carefree (what they really mean is selfish) is highly offensive. i recently graduated with my law degree, and my passion is international human rights. i am looking for a way to bring these factors together into a way for me to work towards making the world a better place, in any small way that i can contribute. what the hell does me having children or not have to do with this?
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Old 12-16-2004, 11:10 AM   #10
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(Supposedly) people like Madonna feel they have a rebirth after they bring someone into the world. I don't know that I see it much in her, except that she's gone from writing books about sex to writing books for kids.
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Old 12-16-2004, 11:11 AM   #11
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Well, that might well be the case, but I don't think that changes the fact that the voluntarily childless can be, and are, just as concerned about society and its future as people who are parents.
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Old 12-16-2004, 11:16 AM   #12
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I think I may go with my "stability" theory. That's not so much a value thing as it is just an extention of self-preservation, in my view.
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Old 12-16-2004, 11:56 AM   #13
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Oh come on, what Kotkin writes is by and large true, but it's hardly as dire as he makes it sound. People need to remember that Bush got 51% of the vote, to Kerry's 48%. That means if 100 people walked into a room, 51 of them are Bush supporters. We're not talking about a landslide here, folks, or even anything that requires wholesale change in democratic strategy. And it's not a long term trend either. Factoring in Nader and Buchanan votes in 2000, a clear and significant majority of the country voted left than right.

I still think the biggest reason we lost is ignorance and misinformation. There are people out there who actually believe that Iraq really IS a part of the war on terror. I live next door to a woman who believes Hillary Clinton is a murderer and John Kerry a communist. That's not a joke. She and her husband believe everything they hear on AM radio. At the time of the election, a majority of the American public believed that Saddam was directly involved in 9/11! A majority! 80% of Fox News viewers believe it! How can you fight this kind of ignorance? America's become an idiot nation who watches nothing but reality television, professional wrestling and Fox News. And they no longer have a sense for truth.
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Old 12-16-2004, 12:16 PM   #14
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I think the practical voters saw beyond the extremes, and if you include Fox News as an extreme, I guess it doesn't apply much. But then again, it would only be fair to say that New York Times is also included. So let's dismiss the two of them, knowing that liberals like NYT and conservatives like Fox News.

So here is what a practical voter might dismiss, as these sources don't generally give you the facts and nothing but the facts:

Michael Moore / MoveOn.com < | > Swift Boat Veterans / Falwell, Inc.

New York Times reported about the Clinton/Lewinsky affair... but then again, who didn't?

Fox News reported about Bush's DUI... but then again, who didn't?
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Old 12-16-2004, 12:30 PM   #15
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"values" is just code for bigots



Quote:
GOP Has Lock on South, and Democrats Can't Find Key

A Times analysis shows that Bush's sweep of the region went even deeper than first appeared.

By Ronald Brownstein
Times Staff Writer

December 15, 2004

WASHINGTON — The generation-long political retreat of Democrats across the South is disintegrating into a rout.

President Bush dominated the South so completely in last month's presidential election that he carried nearly 85% of all the counties across the region — and more than 90% of counties where whites are a majority of the population, according to a Times analysis of election results and census data.

The Times' analysis, which provides the most detailed picture yet of the vote in Southern communities, shows that Bush's victory was even more comprehensive than his sweep of the region's 13 states would suggest.

His overwhelming performance left Sen. John F. Kerry clinging to a few scattered islands of support in a region that until the 1960s provided the foundation of the Democratic coalition in presidential politics. Kerry won fewer Southern counties than any Democratic nominee since the Depression except Walter F. Mondale in 1984 and George S. McGovern in 1972, according to data assembled by The Times and Polidata, a firm that specializes in political statistics.

In Southern counties without a substantial number of African American or Latino voters, Bush virtually obliterated Kerry. Across the 11 states of the old Confederacy, plus Kentucky and Oklahoma, whites constitute a majority of the population in 1,154 counties. Kerry won 90 of them.

By contrast, Bill Clinton won 510 white-majority counties in the South eight years ago.

"We are out of business in the South," said J.W. Brannen, the Democratic Party chairman in Russell County, Ala., the only white-majority county in the state that Kerry carried.

The results underscore the enormity of the challenge facing Democrats as they try to rebuild their Southern support. Most ominously for them, the patterns suggest that under Bush, the GOP is solidifying its hold not just on Southern white conservatives but white moderates as well, a trend also apparent in exit polls of Southern voters on election day.

"As the older white moderates leave the scene, they are being replaced with younger moderates more willing to vote Republican," said Merle Black, a political scientist at Atlanta's Emory University and the author of several books on Southern politics.

Compounding the Democratic dilemma is the growing tendency of Southern whites who vote Republican for president to support GOP candidates down the ballot. In 1984, Ronald Reagan won slightly more counties across the South than Bush did this year; but after Reagan's landslide, Republicans held 12 of the 26 U.S. Senate seats in the region.

After Bush helped the GOP win six open Southern Senate seats last month, Republicans now hold 22 of the 26 Senate seats in the 13 states.

That is the most either party has controlled in the region since Democrats also won 22 in 1964 —ironically, the election in which the white backlash against the Civil Rights Act allowed the GOP to make its first inroads into the South.

Forty years later, under a Southern Republican president, the South has become an electoral fortress for the GOP. Outside the South, Democrats hold more House and Senate seats and won many more electoral college votes than the GOP last month. But the GOP's advantage in the region has been large enough to overcome those deficits and create Republican majorities in both chambers of Congress and the electoral college.

And the magnitude of November's Republican sweep last month suggests the GOP advantage across the region is expanding.

"I don't think that for 50 years we're going to be a Republican section of the country," said former Democratic National Committee Co-Chairman Donald L. Fowler of South Carolina. "I really believe we have the potential to turn a lot of this around in a decade. But it will take constructive, directed, consistent work to do it. It's just not going to happen by itself. We're in too big a hole."

Politically, the South includes 13 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Together they cast 168 electoral college votes, more than three-fifths of the 270 required for election.

Many political analysts see Bush's commanding performance across the region — and Republican gains in other elections during his presidency — as the fourth wave in the GOP's Southern ascendance.

The GOP, which was founded in the 1850s as a Northern party opposed to the expansion of slavery, won very few Southern states in presidential races for a full century after the Civil War. Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt won every Southern state in all four of his presidential campaigns.

Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower had some Southern success in the 1950s. But the GOP planted its first lasting roots in the region amid the white backlash against the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts under Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson in the mid-1960s.

Opposition to the new civil rights laws, and to such follow-on initiatives as affirmative action and school busing for racial integration, powered the first wave of GOP gains in the South. But the party expanded its appeal by courting Southern whites with conservative messages on such nonracial issues as taxes, national defense and moral values. That second advance reached a crescendo during Ronald Reagan's two elections.

"Reagan's presidency was the turning point in the evolution of a competitive, two-party electorate in the South," Black and his brother, Earl Black, wrote in their 2002 book, "The Rise of Southern Republicans."

For the next decade, Democrats remained competitive enough for Southerner Bill Clinton to capture five Southern states in 1992. But the disenchantment over Clinton's chaotic first two years fueled a third wave of GOP Southern gains. In their midterm landslide of 1994, Republicans for the first time captured the majority of House and Senate seats from the South.

As Clinton pursued a more centrist course after 1994, Democrats stanched their congressional losses in the South and even regained some governorships. In 1996, Clinton again won five Southern states.

But under Bush, the GOP is on the march again.

In the Senate, Republicans have increased the number of seats they hold in the 13 Southern states from 18 before Bush took office to 22. (The GOP has now won the last 10 open-seat Senate races in the South.) In the House, Republicans have stretched their advantage in the Southern states from 27 seats before Bush took office to 40 today.

"This is a cumulative process that has gained critical momentum in the past four years," said Karl Rove, Bush's chief political advisor.

Analyzing the results at the county level illustrates Bush's dominance vividly.

In 2000, Bush won 1,047 counties across the South and held then-Vice President Al Gore to 294, according to Polidata.

This year, Bush won 1,124 counties and held Kerry to 216, according to Polidata figures based on preliminary election results. (The South had one fewer county this year than in 2000 because two jurisdictions merged in Virginia.)

Those numbers represent a catastrophic decline for the Democrats since the 1990s, when Clinton won more than 650 counties in each of his presidential victories. Bush has become the first candidate since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940 and 1944 to carry more than 1,000 Southern counties twice.

Even those dramatic numbers may not express the full extent of the Democrats' erosion.

Kerry carried 126 Southern counties where racial minorities — primarily African Americans, but also Latinos in Texas — are a majority of the population, according to a Times analysis of census and Polidata figures. That's only slightly fewer than the 142 "majority-minority" counties Clinton won across the South in 1996.

But Kerry won fewer than one-fifth as many majority-white Southern counties as Clinton did. In all, Kerry carried fewer than 8% of Southern counties with a white majority. Kerry won only one majority-white county in each of Alabama, South Carolina and Mississippi; in Texas he carried two of 196.

Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster specializing in the South, said a combination of long-term trends and more immediate factors combined to produce Bush's advantage.

"It's the historic conservatism of the South reinforced by a contest between a Southern Republican conservative and a Northeastern liberal Democrat at a time when the debate was dominated by national security, where the South has historically been very pro-military, with a kicker of cultural values —specifically, gay marriage — where the South has long been the most culturally conservative region of the country," Ayres said. "You put all those factors together, and it's a formula for a Democratic wipeout."

Also contributing to the debacle was Kerry's decision to essentially write off the region, except Florida, after Labor Day. Although he bought television advertising early on in Louisiana, Arkansas, Virginia and North Carolina, and picked Sen. John Edwards from that state as his running mate, Kerry pulled his ad buys from all of them by early September.

Few Democrats believe the party can — or needs to — be competitive at the presidential level anytime soon in Deep South states such as South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi, or Texas and Oklahoma in the Southwest.

But many believe that a key lesson of 2004 is that the Democrats need a candidate who can seriously contest at least some Southern states, starting with Virginia, North Carolina and Arkansas, and perhaps Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia. Democrats also will find it difficult to regain control of the House and especially the Senate if they cannot reduce the Republican advantage in the South.

"The one incontrovertible thing we learned is we are going to have to be competitive in more parts of the country," said Ed Kilgore, policy director of the Democratic Leadership Council, the party's leading centrist group.

Democratic support has collapsed in most of those states to the point that the party has only a meager foundation to build on.

The white-majority counties that Kerry held fall into a few distinctive categories. He won some poor, rural counties, particularly in outer Southern states such as Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky. Kerry won some of the few Southern counties with a significant trade union presence, like Jefferson County, Ky., which includes Louisville, and Jefferson County, Texas, around Port Arthur and Beaumont.

Kerry also performed well in college towns, capturing the counties that house the principal state university in Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Texas and North Carolina. And he won the parts of the South most like the North: the southeastern Florida retirement havens of Broward and Palm Beach counties and the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington.

Kerry also showed strength in some relatively affluent majority-white communities with large numbers of public employees and college-educated professionals. These are places such as Mecklenburg County, around Charlotte, N.C., where Kerry won a higher proportion of the vote than any Democrat since FDR in 1944; Fairfax County, Va., which voted Democratic for the first time since 1964; Davidson, Tenn., around Nashville; and Leon County, Fla., around the state capital, Tallahassee.

Those wins, among voters who resemble the affluent and socially moderate suburbanites of the Northeast and Midwest, could offer a path for the party to compete in states such as Virginia and North Carolina.

But mostly the results underscored Kerry's inability to crack the middle-class Southern suburbs, or indeed, virtually any component of the Southern white population.

Bush romped in suburban and exurban areas, from Shelby County, Ala., to Gwinnett and Cobb counties in Georgia. He captured several of the large urban areas, like Birmingham, Ala., and Tampa, Fla., that Kerry typically won outside the South, and virtually swept the table in rural and small-town communities apart from the few Democratic holdouts in the outer South.

The breadth of Bush's success in majority-white counties spotlighted his ability to reach beyond his conservative base.

According to the election day exit polls, Kerry won white moderates only in Tennessee and Florida, and he tied Bush among them in Arkansas. In every other Southern state, Bush not only beat Kerry among white moderates but held him to 44% or less with that group. Kerry won white liberals in each state, but they represented no more than about one-sixth, and sometimes as little as one-ninth, of the white population.

Even many Democrats say the Republican surge among white moderates will force the party back to the drawing board. During the late 1990s, Democrats led by Clinton thought they had constructed a new formula for Southern success by linking African Americans and moderate white suburbanites through messages that muted social issues while emphasizing economic development and improving public education.

"But with the growth of the exurbs, the polarization of the parties and the decline in ticket-splitting, Republicans appear to have put together an overwhelming majority in the South again," Kilgore said. "They are now carrying the suburban vote and totally dominating the rural areas. The question: Can Democrats come up with a new biracial coalition?"

For the near term, at least, Rove remains confident that the answer is no. "If you accept my underlying assumption that this is the result of a trend that has gained momentum over the years and has been reinforced under President Bush, what is the act that is going to stop it and reverse it?" he asked.

"Once these things get set in motion, they require something on the landscape done by one or both parties, or events to intrude, to stop it and reverse it."
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