The race heats up

What is motivating the American voter to identify with the Democratic Party in such increasing numbers? Clearly it is both an attraction and repulsion.

donkey elephant 88 (photo credit: )
donkey elephant 88
(photo credit: )
With Tsunami Tuesday around the corner, the Presidential primary races are heating up. Although in the preliminary rounds, the emphasis has been on winnowing the candidate list for each party, a separate contest is also shaping up, one that presages the final challenge to be made this November: the inter-party rivalry between the principal parties themselves. Although the Democratic and Republican candidates have not yet begun to lock horns, the primary races themselves reveal that the Democratic Party has generated strong interest among the electorate, and this is good news for those looking to rid this country from the bungling leadership of Bush & Co. A principal message of the Democratic Party candidates is the need for change from the failed policies of George Bush. Indeed, "Change" is the mantra that has helped propel Barack Obama into a leading contender for the presidential nod from his party. The warm reception that he and Hillary Clinton have received for issuing this call for change shows that the country is tired of the Bush presidency, and wish fresh direction and leadership to bring this country out of the torpor of a weakened domestic economy and diminished importance on the world economic and political fronts. The source of this Democratic optimism comes from a comparison of the raw voting numbers exhibited this year as opposed to recent electoral years. Consider, for example, the following: * Nevada was a state that voted for Bush in 2004. But in 2008, an energized Democratic Party saw participation in the caucuses increase from 9,000 voters in 2004 to 118,000 in 2008. Registered Democratic voters now outnumber Republicans in Nevada. 15,000 young voters caucused for the Democratic Party as opposed to 4,800 young voters caucusing with the Republican Party. * Republican turnout in South Carolina decreased dramatically from 565,000 voters in 2000 to 431,000 in 2008, while in the 2008 primary, Democratic candidates as a group received 533,000 votes. Although Bush carried South Carolina by a wide margin in 2004 (937,934 votes to 661,699 for Kerry), in the 2008 primary, Barack Obama received 295,091 votes: more than double the 143,224 votes received by the Republican winner, John McCain. Hillary Clinton received nearly the same amount of votes as John McCain, with 141,128. Significant too, was the fact that Republicans received support from only one in five Independents and just 10 percent of those under 30. Increased enthusiasm for the Democratic Party, coupled with declining Republican turnout in states like Iowa and New Hampshire, and declining interest of the Independents with the Republican Party bodes well for a Democratic victory in November. What is motivating the American voter to identify with the Democratic Party in such increasing numbers? Clearly it is both an attraction and repulsion. Voters are attracted to the message of the Democratic candidates who offer better leadership and a program for change from the Bush years. They are also repelled by the mismanagement of the Republican party for the past 7 years, and are fearful of a continuation of the same disastrous policies by Bush wannabes. Certainly, the problems with the domestic economy is one of the principal reasons that disturbs ordinary people - the working class and the lower middle class - that constitute the majority of the population in general, and the Democratic Party in particular. While the Republicans have rewarded the wealthy privileged classes, they have failed the vast majority of Americans who are finding it difficult to make ends meet. Unemployment and mortgage foreclosures are hurting too many people. Conventional political wisdom holds that a high turnout on Election Day usually favors the Democratic Party, while a lower turnout favors the Republicans. Republican voters generally turn out in high numbers as they have a strong interest in securing victory for the party dedicated to protecting the wealth of the privileged classes. Potential Democratic voters, although more numerous, generally require a stronger motivation for them to turn out in large numbers. The Republican mismanagement of the economy, which is hurting ordinary people, is providing the motivation for more people to come out, identify with and vote for the Democratic Party. The Republican side presents candidates who offer little hope for a change from business as usual. The Republican contenders present little reason to believe that the party that created the problems is the proper choice for remedying the ills. Unfortunately, the Republican candidates with the clearer expressed sympathy for the needs of the state of Israel are not faring well. Rudy Giuliani appears to be lagging in his bid, and Fred Thompson has already withdrawn his candidacy. The Democratic candidates have all shown strong sympathy and understanding for the needs of the State of Israel; thus the increased interest in the Democratic Party in general bodes for a happy result in November. Tsunami Tuesday may not finally conclude the primary season - the races are too close, both on the Democratic and Republican sides - but it may well reveal whether the trend towards greater voter enthusiasm and turnout for the Democratic Party - as shown in Nevada and South Carolina - will continue. If so, this may well be the real story in the weeks ahead.