Love him or hate him, Bob Dohnal has the understanding that John Gard lacks--totally.
Here Dohnal discusses the results of putting the social Amendments on the November ballot. His analysis parallels that of Sensenbrenner; Sykes toyed with it, as did Belling.
The deciding factor in this equation was our old friends the "Reagan Democrats." I have consistently warned the GOP that they are losing this group, but even I did not see this coming. The Reagan Democrats are almost the exact opposite of the cultural elite that runs our political parties in this country. They are social conservatives, attend church regularly, drive pickup trucks and SUVs, fish and hunt, many of their kids join the service, they like country and western music and economically the belong to the middle and lower middle class.
Historically these people do not trust the GOP 'cause they look at them as the bankers, lawyers, real-estate brokers, industrialists, etc. — all people who they believe are not particularly interested in them except at election time. They live on the south side of Milwaukee County and move into Waukesha County as they succeed. They also live in the rural areas and small towns in Wisconsin. They are fiscal moderates, liking programs like Social Security and Medicare and disliking programs like welfare. They are strong on national defense, having hated the "commies." They do not like tax increases as they cut into their budget quite a bit. Clem Zablocki was their hero. Their GOP heroes have been Ronald Reagan and Tommy Thompson, both able to communicate with them extremely well. Sen. Jeff Plale is an outstanding current example of a "Reagan Democrat."
This group is part of the non-straight ticket punchers that can shift regularly and decide elections. For some reason Green did not connect with them in this election, even though he obviously got their votes in his 8th Congressional District races. [I'll offer an explanation: Green's campaign concentrated a good deal of fire on the 'corporate tax burden' in Wisconsin, which frankly is of little immediate interest to Reagan Democrats. As a comparison, note how Green's ratings jumped up when he hit the UW admissions policies, e.g. THAT was personally compelling; the rest was not.] What is surprising is that so many voted for Democrat Jim Doyle, a supreme example of the cultural elite. But Doyle has not raised taxes, claimed that he balanced the budget and did not succumb to the demands of the liberals who wanted all of their socialistic programs. Even the sportsmen did not view him as a major threat when Doyle changed course on gun control.
So another election is in the bag, the GOP having a straight downhill record for the last 10 years. They have lost the Supreme Court, the U.S. Senate races, the gubernatorial races, the state Senate, a congressional seat, the superintendent of schools, seven seats in the Assembly and are really sitting out in the cold on a big ice cube. The only bright spots have been Scott Walker in Milwaukee County and JB Van Hollen winning the attorney general's race.
Van Hollen's victory fits perfectly into the picture painted by Dohnal. He ran as a "law-and-order" guy--perfect for the AG race--and was running against the very picture of "cultural elite." Most people simply want "law and order"--not wacked-out warmed-over Green Party enforcement--and certainly not 'get out of jail free' cards for offenders.
It is true that the Republicans have become, to a greater or lesser degree, apologists for and defenders of "Big Corporate". This despite the spectacular ethical lapses at Enron, Global Crossing, (etc.) and the continuing collapse of US manufacturing employment, directly aided by a seeming lack of understanding of "the national interest" at the highest levels in Washington. To top it off, what about the stone-headed policy of ignoring illegal immigration (although that seems to be changing). Sure, Democrats like the illegals--but Bush & Co.'s seemingly elitist "ignore the law and lawbreakers" crap just doesn't play well on Main Street.
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Must've been a hard decision for the Reagan Dems. They have to know that by putting Dems in charge, taxes will likely go up, as will social spending.
That's possible. OTOH, Doyle's been very cagey about tax increases so far--and he is NOT sending 2/3rds of school operating costs to the districts (as had McCallum.)
It's possible that Dohnal's comparison to Colorado is valid. We'll see in the next couple of years.
Taxes have to go up. You know the schools are just going to have to have more $$ to solve the problems facing them. After all, money is the answer. The problem couldn't POSSIBLY lie elsewhere...
I agree with the analysis over the problem. (I don't care for the term Reagan democrats. It has become such a loose term.) I don't believe that the marriage ammendment and the death penalty were trend breakers. Certainly those ammendments affected a handful of local races in college towns. However, Van Hollen was the first Republican elected state-wide in over 10 years. If we were trend watching, we would have to say that the surprise was that a Republican was competitive statewide, not that the Democrats swept almost all of the statewide races. I agree that if one was going to switch parties, that race would seem most sympathetic to party switching. We'll have to wait and see, but in four years I wonder if Van Hollen will have a blowout (should happen based on incumbancy) or it will be competitive. I wouldn't necessarily be surprised at the latter.
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