Before I begin, let me just say that I really respect Dan Jones. His polling in Utah is top notch and the only one I really trust. In fact, I almost considered going to this event at the UCC where he talked about why Utah is so red.
And maybe the reporter from the Deseret News was an idiot and just focused on the CW stuff, that's very possible. But I must dispell several MSM lines of CW here.
- "Democrats have no clear policy on immigration."
- failure to articulate an exit strategy in Iraq
- Failure to pass the minimum wage bill
- "Utah wasn't always so red"
- The inability of the state's Democrats and independents "to relate with a Democrat at the national level."
Yes they do. They have passed several bills in the senate immigration. And McCain has signed on to this sensible solution. It is the GOP that is divided. A good chunk of them support the Sensenbrenner lock-em-up type legislation, others support the Senate Democrats position. I will say this over and over again in this piece, but Democrats don't control anything in DC. This makes it very hard to pass bills and without the high level of staff it is hard to further articulate your positions, yet Democrats have a bill that would get support from the majority of Americans but the House won't take it up. Even President Bush would sign this bill.
This is similar to the above point, but slightly closer to the mark. There are still a few Democrats that debate about when we should pull troops out of Iraq, and some of the Joe Lieberman camp that are still refusing to admit their mistake in cheerleading the war, but Lieberman and his followers' days in electoral politics are numbered (negatively). Democrats have united on Iraq for the most part. We all agree that it is going terribly right now, and we need to change the situation by strategically redeploying troops elsewhere. Both those who supported the war, like Joe Biden, and those who opposed the war, like Nancy Pelosi, signed on to this letter.
Unlike the immigration issue, Democrats have yet to issue a hard, definative policy on Iraq. It is however, a question of when, not whether we should get out of there. Some say the end of the year, some say another Friedman (AKA six months) after that. Iraq is an even more difficult policy issue than immigration. However, it was entirely preventable had we not elected to wage this unnecessary war. The situation has gotten increasingly worse as the President and his supporters have gotten increasingly obstinant in their support of this ill-fated adventure. And again, as the minority out of power party, we don't have to and shouldn't be expected to issue a white paper on what to do. Even if we did and took over Congress on that white paper (which only in punditland happens), we couldn't impliment it until 2008, because Bush is the Commander in Chief. We have a general policy that Americans can understand (and 55% of them support), and that is plenty.
I don't know if Jones actually read the bill, but the GOP attached a poison bill amendment to further cut taxes for America's Paris Hiltons. Sure, GOP leaders can claim they voted for the wage hike and that their opponents voted against it, but Democrats have a great new line on the Estate Tax: Paris Hilton tax. And I think your average voter knows who supports increasing the wage and who doesn't. In fact, in several states across the country, there are ballot initiatives supported by Democrats and their union allies because the federal government won't raise the minimum wage.
This is the one of the stupidest comments in the whole piece, and I assume Mr. Jones was misunderstood by the reporter. Red state does not mean Republican, it means conservative. The article claimed that Utah used to support Democrats for a long time. But let's remember that prior to the 1930s, the Democrats were a pretty conservative party, and it was still pretty conservative until the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Moreover, the Republican Party was founded on its zeal to eliminate "the twin barbarisms of our time" namely slavery and polygamy.
The GOP was filled with such hatred towards Mormons that is not surprising that Utah was a one party Democratic state for a long time. But remember, the last Democrat to carry Utah was in 1964 with LBJ's huge sweep.
I would say that the parties have changed overtime, and Utah really hasn't. It has always been a pretty conservative place, opposed to gay marriage, abortion, etc. And as the Democratic party grew to support such things on a national level, so too did the party's prospects wither in the Beehive state.
I don't think we Utah Democrats need to relate to the national party. Kansas, Arizona, Wyoming, New Mexico, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Virginia (along with probably Colorado, Ohio, Alaska, and Kentucky in the up coming elections) all are states with a majority of Republicans in their delegations, which went for Bush in varying degrees in 2004 and most in 2000, yet have strong Democratic parties and popular Democratic governors.
These folks often distinguish themselves from the national party on abortion, or gay rights, or guns, etc. but they do just fine on a state level.
So why does the modern Democratic Party fair so poorly in Utah?
Many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints "feel that Democrat policies are counter to church positions."
And not just that it is counter, but that Democrats are somehow immoral and untrustworthy because of these positions.
The cultural link between the GOP and the LDS church is so strong that many members who are Democrats feel ashamed to admit it or talk about their feelings personally. Culturally, they are pressured to follow along with the "dogma" that Republicans are virtuous and righteous while Democrats are downright evil. "You don't have to be LDS to win in Utah," said Jones. "You've got two chances: slim and none. But you've got a chance."
This is despite the fact that the official position of the church is that both parties have elements that fit the teachings of the LDS faith. Democrats have their social justice issues (poverty, health care, etc.) and Republicans have their culture war issues (gays, abortion, sex).
As I have said before, many a good Mormon was also a good member of the Democratic Party. Democrats also don't require its members to agree with everything in the platform. LDS Sen. Minority Leader Harry Reid is pro-Life. Tenn. Rep. Lincoln Davis is anti-gay rights. Senate Candidate Bob Casey is so pro-Life that his dad is the Casey in last landmark abortion case Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
Before I ramble off too much on this well-trodden ground, let me address another lame CW myth: "I promise you, he'll gain 5 percentage points, five," Jones said of Bush's popularity after the foiled London plot.
Let's look at the polls, shall we?
The arrests in Britain have not helped President Bush's popularity so far, the CBS poll finds. His job approval remains exactly at 36 percent, where it was a month ago. Even the president's rating for handling terrorism – his strongest suit – remains unchanged at 51 percent.
So much for that five point bump? The only other poll I have seen that was conducted on the issue had Bush at 38 percent, up a whole 3 points from the last Newsweek poll.
Oh and Dan? Three points in a month is within the margin of error. Shall I explain that concept to you as well?