Main map

Presidential polls: (None)
Dem pickups: (None)
GOP pickups: FL IN IA NC

Previous | Next


Downloadable data

News from the Votemaster

Both Parties Are Uneasy Coalitions of Warring Factions

A new study shows not only a wide gap between the Democrats and Republicans, but also between factions within each party. The chasm between the parties is wider than ever, with greater polarization than we have had in decades. On the whole, Democrats and Republicans differ on abortion, civil liberties, gay marriage, gun control, health care, immigration, regulation of financial markets, separation of church and state, and the role of government in American life. Also, and that is new, politics has become a package deal. If you oppose abortion, you had better also oppose gun control and regulation of the financial markets. It used to be that people could have their own view on each issue separately, but now there is a Democratic package and a Republican package. A la carte is out.

Nevertheless, the study found several subgroups within each party, each of which places the emphasis on different items. The five groups comprising the Republican Party are as follows.

  1. Tea party members who are ultraconservative, especially on taxes, and who will not tolerate compromises
  2. Old-School Republicans who are wealthy professionals or old money and who don't care about social issues
  3. Religious conservatives who strongly oppose abortion and homosexuality but are less unified on financial issues
  4. Pro-government Republicans are often blue-collar workers with no college and annual incomes below $50,000
  5. Window shoppers call themselves Republicans but don't really fit into the modern Republican Party

The Democrats are also split internally. The study found four factions.

  1. Urban liberals are highly educated, live in cities, read the NYT and don't go to church
  2. God and government Democrats are nonwhite, go to church, and want the government to help them economically
  3. The agnostic left is made up of young people who rarely go to church and want a high wall between church and state
  4. Do-it-yourself Democrats want more government services but also care about the deficit

During the campaign, these different groups are constantly jockeying for position and after the election there will be internal battles in both the winning and losing parties as each group tries to achieve power.

Florida Senate Race Also Tied to Medicare

Pretty much all observers believe that the presidential race in Florida will be determined by which party does a better job handling Medicare. But now it seems increasingly likely that the Senate race there will also be strongly affected by the Medicare debate. The race is between two-term incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Rep. Connie McGillicuddy (R-FL). Other issues also play a role there, though. McGillicuddy is saying that two terms is enough and Nelson is pointing out that McGillicuddy didn't bother to vote all that often in the House. Still, if Obama wins Florida, it is almost impossible to imagine Nelson losing. If Romney wins Florida, Nelson, as an incumbent, might still be able to hang onto his seat.

Obama Offers a Compromise on Romney's Taxes but Romney Says No

President Obama has now offered to stop demanding 10 years of Romney's tax returns if he releases 5 years. Romney immediately rejected the offer saying that he is not releasing any more than he has. It is doubtful that Obama expected Romney to accept the offer, but by making it, it may impress some independents that he is flexible and willing to compromise while Romney is not.

House Members Running for Vice President is a Rarity

It is rare for either party to nominate a sitting member of the House of Representatives to run for Vice President. Since 1900, each party has done it twice, with mixed results. In 1932, the Democrats had a wide-open convention and at a critical moment, Speaker of the House, John Nance Garner of Texas, known as Cactus Jack, threw his support to Franklin Delano Roosevelt in return for the nomination for Vice President. Stupid move on the part of Garner. He later famously remarked that the vice presidency wasn't worth a bucket of warm piss. He should have stayed Speaker of the House, a far more powerful position. In 1984, Walter Mondale chose Geraldine Ferraro, a congresswoman from New York, as his running mate. She was immediately attacked for her husband's finances. The ticket lost, but probably nothing could have saved them.

The first Republican House member to run for Vice President in the 20th century was James Sherman of New York. He was chosen by presidential nominee William Howard Taft to balance the ticket geographically. Taft was from the West (Ohio) so he felt he needed somebody from the East. Our ideas about East and West have changed somewhat since then, however. Sherman won, got to preside over the Senate from time to time and played a lot of golf. Taft had no use for him at all but grudgingly kept him on the ticket in 1912, but he died before the election. The next time the Republicans nominated a sitting House member for the #2 job was in 1964, when Barry Goldwater picked William Miller of New York. Goldwater later said that Miller's only qualification was that he was such a rabid partisan, he would drive President Lyndon Johnson nuts. It didn't work and Miller vanished without a trace until he appeared in a 1975 commercial for American Express Credit Cards asking: "Do you know me?"