national opinion

Monday Column
Carol Platt Liebau

[go to Liebau index]

Latest Column:
Stopping the Meltdown
What Beltway Republicans Need To Do

Subscribe to CRO Alerts
Sign up for a weekly notice of CRO content updates.

Jon Fleischman’s
The premier source for
California political news

Michael Ramirez

editorial cartoon

Do your part to do right by our troops.
They did the right thing for you.
Donate Today

CRO Talk Radio
Contributor Sites
Laura Ingraham

Hugh Hewitt
Eric Hogue
Sharon Hughes
Frank Pastore
[Radio Home]

















Chuck DeVore- Contributor

Assemblyman Chuck DeVore represents 450,000 residents of Orange County California’s 70th Assembly District.. He served as a Reagan White House appointee in the Pentagon from 1986 to 1988 and was Senior Assistant to Cong. Chris Cox. He is a lieutenant colonel in the Army National Guard. Chuck’s novel, CHINA ATTACKS, sells internationally and has been translated into Chinese for sales in Taiwan. [go to DeVore index]

The Return to Partisan Politics
California, get ready for the coming Dean melt-down...
[Chuck DeVore] 9/5/03

I stopped reading the New York Times a few months ago, as I prefer my fiction properly labeled. However, when the O.C. Register ran a piece by the NYT’s Adam Nagourney about the Republicans and Democrats shifting their focus from independents to partisan voters, it commanded my attention.

The article details an interesting shift in the political landscape – a shift that we should all consider before moving headlong into the pivotal 2004 election cycle.

Both parties see “an increasingly polarized and evenly divided electorate,” according to Nagourney. For this reason, both major parties are returning to pre-1992 strategies that focus on motivating their base to increase turn out among partisan voters.

The party that can make its base “emotional” and therefore obtain better “turn out” on Election Day will, according to a senior political advisor to President Bush, have a much higher likelihood of success. All this is leading strategists in both parties to plan ambitious and expensive get-out-the-vote operations for November 2004 that play upon the heightened emotions in the electorate.

The strategists are reacting to a shift in voter attitudes – attitudes that have hardened in wartime, post 9-11 America. Like feedback in a sound system, however, the strategists’ plans will serve to crank up the volume in the run up to the 2004 election.

What issues are we likely to see played out on the national stage in the coming year? There are three basic areas, and voter attitudes are shifting in each: national security, tax policy, and social issues.

National security concerns remain high in the minds of voters, especially among women who rank security higher than do men in most surveys.

The economic slowdown that began in 2000 and the ongoing recovery reinforce the parties’ divergent approach to tax policies in the minds of the voters.

Lastly, simmering differences in social policies may boil up, as recent polls show a general public backlash against matters such as erasing the traditional definition of marriage or allowing unrestricted access to abortions for minors.

These three areas are, of course, classic battlegrounds for the parties. How might they be framed in a national campaign? Furthermore, as they become sharpened in the minds of the electorate, how might they serve to energize the base and in what direction will the non-aligned voters break in reaction to the debate?

Imagine a national campaign where the following, fundamental points will be contested:

Republicans: Are you safer now than you were in 2000? Pursuing the terrorists overseas makes Americans safer at home while making the world safer too.
Democrats: An aggressive American foreign and military policy endangers Americans and makes the world less safe.

Republicans: Cutting taxes for all Americans is reenergizing the economy, creating jobs for more Americans.
Democrats: Tax cuts unfairly benefit the rich while adding to the deficit.

Republicans: Government should not be in the business of pushing social liberalism down the throats of an unwilling public.
Democrats: All Americans must honor and respect the lifestyle choices made by other Americans (and it’s the Government’s duty to see that they do).

These core issues will energize the faithful of both parties and the policy differences will further sharpen if Vermont governor Howard Dean captures the Democrat nomination as is now looking increasingly likely. They are also likely to cause the majority of independents to break right in reaction to Dean’s unbridled liberalism. If so, a national landslide of historic proportions may be in the making.

What may this shift in strategy portend for California? Outside of a few precincts in San Francisco, most California voters have a keenly different set of priorities now than they did before September 11, 2001. This may increase the vulnerability of the Democrats in California, both in the Recall and in the November 2004 election.

Think for a moment of the impact that a Republican Presidential election landslide of 1972 or 1984 dimensions could have on California...

It’s 5 p.m. Election Day afternoon in California, November 2, 2004. The networks proclaim Howard Dean as the winner in Vermont (barely), and in Washington, D.C., scoring six Electoral College votes for Dean. President George W. Bush is projected to win in New Hampshire, Maine, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina with Massachusetts and New York still too close to call. Democrat precinct walkers and phone bankers in California get the wind knocked out of them. Democrat-leaning commuters coming home from work decide to go home first, rather than visit the polling place.

It’s now 6 p.m. in California. Fox News has proclaimed George W. Bush the winner of the entire Eastern seaboard less Vermont and D.C. Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Mississippi go for Bush. Exit polls show Bush the winning in Illinois too. The electoral map becomes impossible for Dean. Democrat volunteers walk off the job and head for the bars. The Democrat-leaning commuters at home relax in front of the TV with a beer (or a glass of wine in West L.A.) and watch the map of America turn a bright Bush red.

It’s now 7 p.m. in California. Howard Dean has lost. While he refuses to concede (memories of Jimmy Carter’s 1980 election night concession speech firmly in mind), the networks, led by Fox News, have already called it. Turn out in Democrat precincts plummets. Several “safe” Democrat Legislative and Congressional seats appear to be in danger. Senator Boxer senses doom and tries to rally the troops, but the media is focused on President Bush’s triumphant sweep down the West Coast with the still popular Republican governor of California.

At 8:30 p.m., Fox News calls California for Bush. Early returns show dramatic Republican gains in the State Assembly and Senate. Barbara Boxer dusts off her resume.

If a Republican sweep occurs in 2004 at the end of a campaign marked by sharpened political distinctions, one wonders what impact that may have on the debate over the future of the Republican Party here in California. Do we Republicans win by blurring the lines between us and the Democrats so we can appeal to independents, or do we energize our base, get-out-the-vote, and give independents a clear choice between two competing visions for the future of the Golden State?


Copyright 2003 Chuck DeVore




Blue Collar -  120x90
120x90 Jan 06 Brand
Free Trial Static 02
ActionGear 120*60
Free Trial Static 01
Applicable copyrights indicated. All other material copyright 2003-2005