How to Persuade a Majority
Allow me to join the chorus of praise for Scott Winship's blog on the Democratic Strategist site. He slices and dices the numbers in a dispassionate way that should appeal to all Democrats.
Yesterday Winship did a post reviewing all the evidence about voters' identifications as conservatives, liberals and moderates, and as Republicans and Democrats. You should definitely read the whole thing, but a lot of his analysis revolves around swing voters defined as: (a) genuine independents; (b) conservative self-identifiers who tend to agree with Democrats on key policy issues; and (c) liberal self-identifiers who tend to agree with Republicans on key policy issues. Here's what Scott says about the evidence on how to appeal to these voters:
[A]ttracting swing voters means emphasizing values and national security. These issues are crucial to improving performance among inconsistent identifiers and liberal-identifying conservatives. Values issues also appear key to keeping and improving performance among conservative-identifying liberals.
It is possible that an economic populist message would be effective among inconsistent identifiers, who appear primed for both economic and cultural populism. Populism doesn't appear particularly likely to resonate among liberal-identifying conservatives, who became much more likely to support Bush between 2000 and 2004, during which time the al Qaida attacks seem to have pushed them toward Bush. Nor does it appear to be promising as a strategy aimed at conservative-identifying liberals who, after all, call themselves "conservative" mostly on the basis of their views on values issues.
Finally, increasing turnout could be successful, but I found that nonvoters had pretty much the same ideological distribution as voters did. So it wouldn't necessarily yield a bumper crop of new Democratic votes.
Scott's whole analysis happens to coincide with the DLC's longstanding views on how to appeal to swing voters, and how to assess nonvoters. But don't let me taint his words with association with any particular faction in the Democratic Party; read it yourself and decide. Maybe Democratic prospects ultimately depend on obtaining a deeper understanding of popular culture, such as the national obsession with American Idolatry, but for the moment, it's good to have some empirical data on where the stubborn Donkey should go. --