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March 15, 1984 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1984-03-15

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4

OPINION

Page 4

Thursday, March 15, 1984

The Michigan Daily

Electability and

the Democratic

coalition

By Scott Winkelman
First of two articles.
Primary season has come again,
bringing with it the intra-party political
struggles that Americans and the
media so love. Glenn attacks Mondale.
Mondale attacks Hart. Hart attacks
Mondale. Naturally, the purpose of all
this political bantering is to secure the
Democratic nomination for president.
Along the way, of course, each can-
didate suggests that his jabs are not
meant to be taken personally, but
rather, are to "set my candidacy apart
from the others."
As voters, we must accept this inter-
nal warfare for what it is, while rejec-
ting it for what it is not. It is a uniform
effort to win the right to represent the
nation's Democrats as the party choice
on election day. For the most part,
however, the campaign strategies are
not presently designed to defeat the
Republican incumbent, Ronald
Reagan. Occasionally we do see results
of a recent poll indicating which of the
candidates offers the best opportunity
to defeat Reagan. Yet even those
sporadic events are largely employed
by the Democrats to fuel the intense
rivalry between them. The purpose, in
essence, is to get nominated, not to get
elected.
With this point in mind, it is worth-
While now to consider the relative elec-
t4bility of the Democratic challengers.
The primary process and, thus, the
nomination are significant, but are only
Ainportant means to a much more im-
gortant end. Once the Democratic
<ominee is chosen, as voters our only
remaining option is to accept or reject
-this candidate. While we have a more
considerable choice, then, we should
consider who are the loyalists who elect
Democratic presidents.
1 Since the '1930s, this has meant
focusing on the constituencies which
together elected Franklin Delano
Roosevelt president for four successive
ferms, and later thrust Presidents
Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, and Carter
into office. The formula has changed
over the years, and other voting groups
must certainly be reckoned with. These
changes, however, are dwarfed by the
remarkable resilience of the "New
Deal" coalition. It is chiefly these blocs
to which Democratic candidates must
appeal if they wish to occupy the White

House for the next four years. How each
of these: coalitional elements vote in
November could well determine
whether the Democrats achieve their
ultimate goal.
The South
Until recently the South constituted
the most consistently loyal Democratic
constituency, a fact most Northerners
today find hard to swallow. In his four
election victories not a single "Old
South" state voted against Franklin
Roosevelt, support unrivaled in recent
American history. What makes even
more modern Democrats uncomfor-
table is the recognition that Roosevelt's
was the party of racial segregation in
the South, and it is this fact that largely
accounted forDemocratic hegemony in
the region. The Southern majorities
were huge; they were also white.
As soon as President Truman and
others began pushing for civil rights
measures and appealing more openly to
strictly Northern interests, Southern
loyalty began slipping. In 1952, five
Southern states voted Republican; in
1964 the South voted less Democratic
than the national-average for the first
time. The Democratic South which
resurfaced to bring victory to Jimmy
Carter in 1976 was markedly different
from that which secured FDR's suc-
cess. Roosevelt's South was white; Car-
ter's was significantly black. Ronald
Reagan's victory in 1980 again eviden-
ced the disappearance of a uniformly
Democratic South. Quite simply, the
South as a bloc is no longer Democratic.
The black vote
The same years which saw Southern
loyalty slip witnessed the emergence of
the black vote as a significant force in
national politics. By 1936, New Deal
policies began to take effect, and blacks
were willing to vote their pocketbooks,
i.e., vote for Roosevelt. Deserting Lin-
coln's party of emancipation, blacks
shifted support to Democrats who in-
creasingly appealed to their interests.'
The black vote now constitutes the
core of Democratic loyalty. This
element has become particularly
significant for a couple of reasons.
Black loyalty overall has strengthened
considerably; by 1976, an estimated 94
percent of black voters .supported a
white Southern Democrat for'president,
a number approximated even in the
wake of Carter's subsequent disastrous
defeat in 1980. Furthermore, the num-
ber of black voters has increased

Ar Photo
The hooplas and debate surrounding the primary process and nomination are only the means to a much more decisive
end.

phenomenally, a trend expected to con-
tinue in 1984 due, in part, to the Rev.
Jesse Jackson's candidacy. Finally,
their concentration in certain Northern
industrial centers increases the
,relative importance of sewing up black
support.
Labor
Franklin Roosevelt was, quite sim-
ply, the greatest unionizing agent in
U.S. history. At the time of FDR's first
inaugural, less than three million
workers were organized; by 1939 union
membership had increased to eight
million strong, largely due to
Democratic initiatives. Since then,
labor union members have become a
vital element in the Democratic
equation for victory. Union backing, for
example, was vital to Hubert Hum-
phrey's nomination in 1968 and Carter's
Northern and Midwestern sweeps in
1976.
The nature and significance of
labor/union support, however, has
changed significantly. Contrary to
popular belief, the labor vote is not the
union vote. Union membership in the
United States has never claimed more
than a quarter of American laborers, a
figure that has remained fairly stable
since its virtual peak in 1946. Further-
more, as workers increasingly shared
the fruits of the economic prosperity of
the post-New Deal era they became, on

the whole, less radicalized, less liberal,
and more likely to represent the main-
stream of American thought. (This is
one of many instances whereby
Democratic successes were largely
responsible for later defections.)
The change in labor itself illustrates
this point. In 1950, blue-collar workers
constituted 41 percent of total U.S. em-
ployment; by 1980 that number had
dropped to only 30 percent. More and
more workers are relatively well off,
and less dependent on Democratic
defense of their economic plight. Can-
didate Ronald Reagan's most im-
pressive inroads -in 1980 occurred
among manual laborers, a fact which
must be foremost in the minds of
Democratic strategists in 1984.
Cities
In planning his first election cam-
paign Roosevelt envisioned a two-
pronged base of support, composed
primarily of Southern white neigh-
borhoods and Northern industrial
cities. The white South, as was demon-
strated earlier, is no longer a
Democratic' stronghold. The urban
foundation, however, in large part per-
sists. Most major American cities,
populated heavily by'ethnicmrinorities,
blacks, and blue-collar workers, are
natural bastions of Democratic sup-
port. By 1966, in fact, every U.S. urban
center of over 50,000 inhabitants housed

a Democratic majority of voters.
While urban voters have remained
loyal Democrats, their numbers have
been shrinking considerably. So while
party leaders can still claim urban sup-
port, that claim is becoming less
significant in the vote total columns.
Coupled with increasing Republican
hegemony in suburban areas, the
Democratic Northern and Midwestern
strongholds so central to all recent
Democratic presidential victories are
becoming less secure.
Religious groups
Voting patterns based on religious
preference have become increasingly
unpredictable in the post-New Deal era.-
Catholics, having mostly been entren-
ched in the urban melting pots since
their arrival in America, were
generally less affluent and less
established than their Protestant coun-
terparts. Consequently, most Catholics
naturally developed strong Democratic
affinities, leading to overwhelming
support for FDR and Truman. Before
Roosevelt's candidacy, Jews, on the
other hand, had clung to Republican
leadership. Their phenomenal support
for Roosevelt - 90 percent of Jewish
voters voted Democratic in 1940 and
1944 - represented an impressive
alteration of voting preference.
But affluence and increasing accept-
ance in U.S. society affected Catholic

and Jewish voters similarly. By the
1950s slippage in Catholic loyalty was
becoming painfully noticeable and
although John F. Kennedy brought
many Roman Catholics back to the
Democratic fold, the return was tem-
porary. Today religious blocs seem to
be voting primarily along class lines,
favoring neither Republicans nor
Democrats instinctively. In 1980,
Reagan captured the Catholic vote by
the slim margin of 47 to 46 percent,
while Carter won the Jewish vote by
about six percentage points, again
demonstrating that neither party can
count on dominating the support of
these groups.
What, some may ask, is the impor-
tance of analyzing voters in terms of
these subdivisions? Two examples
from recent history should sufficiently
answer this question. The last serious
Democratic candidate to totally
disregard traditional constituencies
was George McGovern. McGovern
campaigned in 1972 as the "peace can-
didate," relying on the fanatic support
of political outsiders (Gary Hart among 4
them) and volunteers rather than ap-
pealing to traditional party interests.
While this turned out to be a brilliant
strategy for capturing the nomination,
it left McGovern with no electoral base
on election day. Despite perfunctory at-
tempts to heal the wounds his campaign
had inflicted, he suffered the greatest
presidential defeat in recent memory.
Every coalitional element wavered, as
he managed to become the first
Democrat in forty years to
simultaneously lose the union vote,
Catholic vote, Southern vote, and other
traditional Democratic partisans.
The other example involes a
Republican attempt to capture the:
presidency. The candidate's pollster,
Richard Wirthlin, based his strategy on
his belief that the incumbent's support
essentially derived from the same
coalition "that dominated national
politics since the 1930s." He then
worked with his candidate to cut into
those traditional constituencies held
by the opposition, hoping for erosion of
the coalitional support of four years
earlier. The year was 1980; the can-
didate was Ronald Reagan. The result,
we all know.

Winkelman is editor-in-chief of
Consider and associate editor of the
Michigan Journal of Political Scien-
ce.

4

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Vol. XCIV-No. 130

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

Laban
iJUSTICEI'L
EDEPARTMENT
'o K

a
''7
E'T'A KVOW JV
N

4

tu

A day at
IDDYAP! Super Tuesday is behind
j . and it's on to Super Saturday in
the race for victory in the 1984
Democratic Presidential Horse Race
something like the Kentucky Derby.
It has been a rough year for
Democratic horses who have had to
overcome injuries sustained from a lot
bf horsing around. But the current
front-runner, Coloradan, after coming
from behind is looking stronger every
day. Some say he has the momentum
to carry him all the way up to election
day. But Big Labor and Special In-
erest, a horse from Minnesota, is con-
sistently running a close second. The
suspense is building here at the
Michigan media races. Who will the
people stake their money on.
At gate number one is the Minnesota
horse whose trot has been a bit lame
since he missed a hurdle in New Ham-
pshire. But the crowds keep cheering
for Big Labor and Special Interest so
don't count the injuires as fatal. Horse
experts say that this contender resem-
bles an old horse named Hubert Hum-
phrey and feeds off the core of the
democratic Party where he gets all his
strength.
Big Labor and Special Interest came
hnt f 5iner Tnecrhv winning the raes

the races
se's "new ideas" and say he represents
a "new generation" of Triple Crown
winners. The Coloradan seems to be
galloping away with greater potential
strength to win in 1984 than any of the
other Democratic horses. Some say the
Coloradan, who some have compared
to a J.F.K, will run well against the
seventh-three-year-old horse from
California. They say the Coloradan
tends to run an independent, middle-of-
the-road race. This seems the way to
go as he won the highest stakes in the
Super Tuesday race winning Florida,
Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. In
four previous races the odds were in
his favor - New Hampshire, Maine,
Vermont (3 to 1), and Wyoming (3 to
2).
Polls taken after the bets were
placed Tuesday say the Coloradan was
the favorite of younger, better-
educated, more-prosperous citizens
who tend to be independent of party
labels and established leaders. In the
races which lie ahead, however, the
Coloradan will have to prove he can
run on more than momentum and
should be wary of some nudging and
biting by other horses also seeking to
win the race.
Spectators who have seen these hor-
ses compete for the prize title question

4

(

w

4

~T
LETTERS TO T HE DAILY:

I

PSN violates First Amendment

To the Daily :
The First Amendment is a
given right. But it does not take
precedence over other rights
similarly guaranteed. By forcing
their way into another electronics
laboratory, the Progressive

unnecessary in the spreading of
their "gospel." Can breaking the
law simply to inconvenience
others ever be called
"Progressive"?
BLOOM COUNTY

We, the Students Proud Of
Campus Knowledge (S.P.O.C.K.)
will fight for greater academic
freedom at the University. We
will not, however, infringe on the

rights of others in the process.
-Chris Pike
March 7
Pike is Chairman of
S.P:. .C.K.
by Berke Breathed

_--

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