National Journal: Democrats Will Struggle to Flip States

Wednesday, 09 Jul 2014 10:45 AM

By Melanie Batley

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Democratic strategists have identified a number of states they hope to flip from red to blue in the coming decades, but recent electoral outcomes and changing demographics suggest the goal may be increasingly unrealistic, according to the National Journal.

David Plouffe, President Barack Obama's former campaign manager, said in an article in The Wall Street Journal Monday that Arizona, Georgia, and Texas, which are currently Republican strongholds, offer the best possibilities for becoming swing states and up for grabs for Democrats in the years to come.

"His projection shouldn't be too surprising: When looking at the booming minority growth across the country, it's easy to see how the political composition of certain states can change dramatically, even in once-partisan strongholds," wrote the National Journal's Josh Kraushaar.

"But it's also worth taking a closer look at what's currently happening in those three states, through the prism of the races taking place there this year. If anything, recent elections suggest that the states aren't turning more favorable for Democrats, but instead are becoming more racially polarized."

Kraushaar notes that since Obama's election in 2008, Republicans have won every gubernatorial and Senate race and each of the three states Plouffe identified. And while Southern states are becoming more racially diverse and minorities traditionally vote Democrat, the highest growth has been in the Hispanic population where electoral turnout continues to lag well behind other minorities.

In Texas' gubernatorial race, national Democrats thought victory could be in reach due to the high profile of state Sen. Wendy Davis. But she has gained little traction among Hispanics who make up 38 percent of the population, and is trailing significantly behind GOP Attorney General Greg Abbott.

In Arizona, Hispanic support for Republican presidential candidates increased in the last two campaigns despite immigration playing a central role in the state's politics.

Georgia may offer the best long-term opportunity for Democrats, according to the National Journal.

"Obama won 98 percent of the African-American vote and only 23 percent of the white vote. With a just a little more support from white voters and continued minority growth, winning a statewide election is seemingly within reach," Kraushaar wrote.

Nevertheless, this year's Georgia Senate race will offer a critical test of Democratic competitiveness, the National Journal says.

If Democratic candidate Michelle Nunn, daughter of former long-time Sen. Sam Nunn, loses to the GOP nominee in November, "it could be a worrisome signal that the Southern white vote is trending in a conservative direction, regardless of the Democratic nominee," the Journal said.

"After 2008 and 2012, Democrats have come close to hitting the upper limits of their electoral-vote potential, so strategists are understandably looking for ways to expand the map further. But what's more realistic is that Republicans will be able to contest traditionally Democratic Rust Belt battlegrounds, such as Pennsylvania and Michigan, before additional GOP strongholds flip," the National Journal said.

"Democrats may be wise simply to consolidate their gains from the past two presidential elections."

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