Friday, September 18, 2009

Charlie Cook: Democrats at risk of losing "purple America"

Click to enlarge and check out all that purple

In the latest "Cook Report," the respected independent political analyst, Charlie Cook, lays out the major challenge now facing President Obama and the Democratic Congressional majorities simply and bluntly: the are fast losing independents and moderates and must focus on "purple America" or suffer big losses in 2010:

I am becoming convinced, based on this and other research, that although many independent voters are disappointed in specific things that Obama has done, they still hope that he will do well and believe that he might. To be sure, red America has already given Obama the thumbs down. And blue America just wishes he would be more liberal. But it's purple America, the independents who voted for Democrats in the 2006 midterm election by an 18-point margin, that makes the biggest difference right now [emphasis added]. Most House Democrats live in blue America and show little awareness that their party has a problem. However, the Democrats' majority is built on a layer of 54 seats that the party picked up in 2006 and 2008 that are largely in purple -- or even red -- America. Democrats ought to keep in mind that 84 of their current House members represent districts won by President Bush in 2004 or John McCain in 2008.

A whopping 48 of those Democrats -- eight more than the size of their party's majority -- are from districts that voted for both Bush and McCain. That America is very different from the Democratic base in blue America, and it sees many major issues very differently.


The 17-point advantage that Democrats enjoyed in the January Gallup Poll (when "leaners" were included) shrank to 5 points in August. Their edge on the generic congressional ballot test has vanished, according to most national polls. For three years, Democrats enjoyed high single-digit or low double-digit leads on this question -- a very good indicator of which direction (and how hard) the political winds are blowing as a congressional election nears.

What we are seeing is an electorate growing just as disgusted with the Democratic majority as it did with the Republican one in 2006.

Indeed. The right and left may fuss and snarl at each other, but every time, the nation's vast purple center will wind up calling the shots. If you're the guy in power, once independents and moderate Democrats and Republicans begin to turn skeptical, much less negative, you'd better work hard to turn them around or the next election will be one you don't like.

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