Social Issues Now Benefiting Democrats

Once something that generally benefited Republicans, social issues are now becoming a wedge issue for Democrats.


For at least the last several decades Republicans have generally seemed to benefit from “social issues” such as abortion, same-sex marriage, the War On Drugs, and crime. While it was rarely the case that these issues were the primary issue motivating most voters in a given election, the GOP has often been able to use them as wedge issue that would break apart traditional Democratic coalitions and lead people to vote for Republican candidates even if they might be more sympathetic to Democrats on economic and other issues. Additionally, these issues have long been used by both sides, but against seemingly most effectively by Republicans, as a way to motivate strongly opinionated base voters to get out to the polls in what otherwise might be a low turnout election, thereby possibly providing enough support to, hopefully, put a particular candidate over the top. To a large degree, this was the methodology behind the “Southern Strategy” that Republicans began adopting in the Nixon era, and which bore fruit decades later in the form of the GOP’s dominance in states that used to be solidly Democratic. As recently as 2004, Republicans were able to use opposition to same-sex marriage as a wedge to help drive voter turnout in the Presidential election, most especially in Ohio, which just happened to be the state that decided the election that year.

Now, however, it’s beginning to look as though social issues may be turning into a wedge issue that favors Democrats:

WASHINGTON — Facing re-election, Gov. Scott Walker, Republican of Wisconsin, no longer talks about stopping same-sex marriage. “It’s those on the left that are pushing” the issue, he says.

Ed Gillespie, the Republican Senate candidate in Virginia, argued that Senator Mark Warner, the Democratic incumbent, was “making up my views” when Mr. Warner accused him of seeking to overturn abortion rights and ban some forms of contraception. In fact, Mr. Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman, said in a recent debate, he wants contraceptives available (behind the counter) at pharmacies without a prescription.

Representative Cory Gardner, a Republican in a tight Senate race in Colorado, proposed the same thing after the Supreme Court’s decision on the Hobby Lobby case exempted some private businesses from covering certain contraceptives in health insurance plans. He was shielding himself from attacks by Senator Mark Udall, a Democrat, who has spent months slamming Mr. Gardner’s “radical agenda” on abortion and family planning.

Udall is running his entire campaign on social issues,” said Brad Dayspring of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “All they talk about is birth control, ‘personhood,’ abortion.”

So will many other Democrats this fall. They aim to match President Obama’s feat in 2012, when the incumbent used topics such as same-sex marriage and contraception as weapons to offset his vulnerability on the economy. That they would even try while facing the older, whiter, more conservative midterm electorate shows how thoroughly the politics of social issues have turned upside down.

The tumultuous social changes that began in the 1960s supplied decades of political ammunition for Republicans. Beginning with Richard M. Nixon, they rallied Americans disturbed by noisy protests over civil rights, the sexual revolution and the Vietnam War.

“Acid, amnesty and abortion” was the epithet hurled at the 1972 Democratic presidential candidate, George McGovern. Republicans seized on concerns about welfare, school busing and crime — memorably with a black convict named Willie Horton in 1988 — to cement their grip on white voters. As recently as 2004, Republicans used a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage to rally tradition-minded “values voters” behind President George W. Bush’s re-election.

Now the values wedge cuts for Democrats. Demographic change keeps shrinking Nixon’s “Silent Majority.” President Bill Clinton and a Republican Congress overhauled welfare. Fear of crime has receded enough that members of both parties propose more lenient sentencing.

American households have changed significantly. Nearly half of adults are unmarried. Fully 10 percent of opposite-sex married couples are interracial or interethnic. Acceptance of same-sex marriage has expanded with astonishing speed.

Legalization of medical marijuana has moved, in two states, Colorado and Washington, to legalization of recreational marijuana. College students from the Summer of Love are pushing 70, the elders who disapproved of their behavior are largely gone and young adults are wondering what the turmoil was ever about.


A recent Pew Research Center study highlighted how the Republican base diverges from majority opinion and experience. Members of a category Pew calls “steadfast conservatives,” mirroring Tea Party Republicans, attend church more often than any other group. More than half of them have guns in their homes, compared with one-third of the population over all.

Only 18 percent of staunch conservatives say society should accept homosexuality, compared with 62 percent overall; 16 percent believe society is “just as well off” if people have priorities other than marriage and children, compared with 50 percent over all; and 28 percent favor legalization of marijuana, compared with 54 percent over all.

Six in 10 want their representatives to stick to their positions rather than compromise. Seven in 10 call immigrants “a burden” on society, and say America’s best years have passed. While 61 percent of the population says the globe is warming, three in four staunch conservatives see “no solid evidence.”

Those attitudes complicate the party’s ability to forge a new majority coalition as education levels rise and attitudes change.

None of this is surprising, of course. We’ve seen polling on same-sex marriage, contraception, marijuana legalization, and a host of other social issues shift decidedly against the traditional Republican positions for quite some time now. As younger voters becomes a larger part of the electorate, this is only likely to become more true as time goes on. For example, most recent polling has shown that younger voters are so completely turned off by the Republican Party’s stance on issues such as marriage equality, marijuana legalization, and immigration that they wouldn’t even consider voting for a Republican candidate. The problem that this poses for Republicans, of course, is that even if they do start changing the party’s position on these issues, it’s not at all clear that there would be any clear electoral benefit to them, while it’s likely that such a move would elicit scorn, to say the least, from the socially conservative base of the party. For proof of that, one need look no further than the exceedinglynegative reaction that former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels received in 2011 when he called for a truce on social issues within the Republican Party so that candidates could concentrate on issues such as the economy and federal spending where, to some degree, the GOP has an advantage over Democrats in most polling.  As it turns out, there is plenty of evidence that Daniels was right in calling on the GOP to stop emphasizing divisive social issues, but Republicans have generally not taken well to that advice even as it becomes more apparent that the party’s position on these issues is harmful.

None of this is to say that Democrats can ride social issues to victory in every race, of course. Turnout in specific races, the quality of the candidates and their campaigns, and the state of the economy will always be more important issues than these wedge issues. However, just as the GOP was once able to use social issues such as these as wedge issues in close elections, we seem to be entering a time when it will be Democrats that are following this strategy. This is one reason why we’re seeing many Republicans in close elections — such as Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Cory Gardner in Colorado — do the best that they can to evade these issues even if it means seeming to contradict their previously stated positions.  No doubt we’ll see more Republicans equivocate or change their position on issues like marriage equality as the polling becomes clearer. In any case, expect to see social issues like marriage and contraception to be a big part of the election narrative this year, and in 2016. The difference is that this time it will be the Democrats who are emphasizing the issues, and Republicans who are running from them

FILED UNDER: 2014 Election, 2016 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. gVOR08 says:

    Doug, you double entered your post.

    And what’s keeping SD?

  2. CB says:

    “Why do Democrats keep bringing up social issues??”

    in 3…2…1…

  3. Eric Florack says:

    Really, Doug?
    The Democrats are directly and irreokably responsible for these numbers.
    I fail to see them benefitting from it.

  4. Matt Bernius says:

    @Eric Florack:
    Strangely enough, more recent polls (as in conducted in the last four years) *also* from Pew suggest that children and young adults continue to remain positive about their futures:

    Are the Democrat’s directly and irreokably (?) responsible for those numbers as well?

  5. Franklin says:

    @Matt Bernius: Actually, Eric’s poll is over EIGHT years old.

  6. michael reynolds says:

    Republicans are cruel. They lack basic compassion. They lack the capacity to put themselves in another person’s shoes. There is a fundamental lack of feeling that leads to racism, to contempt for the humanity of immigrants, to scorn for gays. It is narrow-minded, selfish, stupid, nasty, dishonest and despicable.

    And that’s who you and James vote for Doug, because you believe in “limited government.” That’s who a lot of people vote for for one pathetic reason or another. But if you vote for people who make it their life’s work to treat your fellow Americans, or just fellow humans, like dirt, how do you escape responsibility?

    I just left the Holocaust section of the Imperial War Museum in London, so maybe I’m a bit emotional about this. Tell you something about that place: people go in laughing, texting on their phones, and they come out dead silent aside from a sniffle or the occasional stifled sob. One of the points made unsparingly in that place is that what happened in 1939-1945 was all perfectly legal. Laws had been duly passed. And the Germans who aided the Nazis, or who just turned a blind eye, all had excellent excuses: Hitler is good for the economy being a big one.

    Now, before you go all Godwins on me, no, I am not equating Republican cruelty to Nazi cruelty. But are they on the same spectrum? Do they grow from the same contempt for the “other?” Yes. The capacity to deny the humanity of the “other” is the core belief that unites them.

    I acknowledge and appreciate the fact that you work tirelessly on this blog, and that you are quick to honestly point out GOP misdeeds. But dude, in the end you have got to pick a side. When you vote for a Republican House member or Republican Senator you are personally, yourself, assuming responsibility for the very viciousness that you decry.

    That is not a game that plays out well in the end. You don’t want to be forced to pick a side? Too bad. I’ll bet you can guess what quote I’ll drop in next, because you know it as well as I do. But here it goes anyway: The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

    You write about it, and I respect that. You know I am not one of the Mataconis-bashers here. But sooner or later you need to match actions to words.

    The Republican party wants to take human beings who have spent their entire lives in this country, who have been Americans for their entire conscious existence, and evict them, shove them across the border into a country they do not know. They want to ethnically cleanse this country without regard to even the most basic considerations of humanity and decency. They want Juden raus, but for Mexicans and Guatemalans.

    And that’s who you vote for.

    This is not both sides do it. Both sides do not do it. One side does it. The side you have given your votes to.

  7. C. Clavin says:

    Social issues are becoming wedge issues for a very good reason…because Republicans insist on making them wedge issues. Xenophobia and oppression are not very popular with the majority of the country…in fact they are really only popular with xenophobes and those who have never been oppressed…e.g. the Republican base.

  8. C. Clavin says:

    @Eric Florack:
    Really? Linking to a 8 year old poll? From before Bush crashed the economy? I’m curious…what does it say about the iPhone5?

  9. michael reynolds says:

    @Eric Florack:

    My daughter, Julia, was born in China. She spent her first four years in an orphanage there until my wife and I adopted her.

    She does not speak Mandarin. She does not remember China. She is 100% American.

    If a mistake were found in her paperwork, you and your ilk, would pull her out of her home, take her out of her school, take her away from her friends, and put her on a plane to China where she would have no friends, no family, no ability to continue in school or make a living.

    That’s what you would do to my daughter, and excuse it by saying, “Hey, the law is the law.”

  10. Ron Beasley says:

    Attitudes change but not the attitudes of old people. Evangelical Christian Churches are losing membership because young people leave as soon as they are old enough to do so. We have several “mega churches” around here that are now vacant. The possible exception is the Mormon Church which seems to be able to retain it’s young people although it’ seems to be moderating on many issues and accepting reality.

  11. Yea there was a copy/paste error in the past. Fixed now. Sorry.

  12. stonetools says:

    Facing re-election, Gov. Scott Walker, Republican of Wisconsin, no longer talks about stopping same-sex marriage. “It’s those on the left that are pushing” the issue, he says.

    Holy mackeral, don’t that just put the C in chutzpah.
    I think this is just a purple state phenomenon, though. In red states whipping up the hate against the gays is probably still a winner for Republicans.
    Scott Walker hears approaching footsteps, though. I do hope his demagoguery against gays comes back to bite him in the a$$. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving grifter.

    Gov. Scott Walker says legal requirements rather than political calculations explain his appeal of a federal court decision overturning Wisconsin’s ban on gay marriage.

    Asked July 12, 2014 why he appealed at a time when some governors have not fought such rulings, the Republican said it had nothing to do with his personal support for traditional marriage.

    And lookihere, the latest polls:

    Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) is running neck-and-neck against his leading Democratic challenger, according to a new poll released Wednesday.

    The survey of likely voters, conducted by Marquette Law School, shows former Trek executive Mary Burke (D) leading Walker 47 percent to 46 percent. Her lead is well within the poll’s margin of error. (In other words, consider it tied.)

    Next month Scott Walker ad: “I’ve always been in favor of gay marriage, and unions too.”

  13. Kylopod says:

    We’ve seen polling on same-sex marriage, contraception, marijuana legalization, and a host of other social issues shift decidedly against the traditional Republican positions for quite some time now.

    Contraception doesn’t exactly fit with those other examples. It’s not the public that has gone from anti-contraception to pro-contraception (at least not in the past few decades), it’s the Republicans who have recently gone beyond opposing abortion to opposing contraception as well (even though contraception is one of the most effective ways to prevent abortions). Unlike issues such as SSM or pot legalization, the public tide hasn’t shifted; rather, the Republicans are newly embracing ideas that have long been unpopular.

  14. PJ says:

    Adding to Bithead’s poll-FAIL, the poll he linked to is from May 2006, a time when Republicans controlled the White House, the Senate, the House, and a majority of Governorships. There was this mid-term election later that year….

  15. Matt Bernius says:

    Clearly you haven’t learned anything from him. It’s only Democrats/Liberals who instinctively blame others for their problems.

    That’s why, among other things, the Democrats/Liberals are responsible for both the legislative actions of Republican governments and “true Conservatives(TM)” utter failure to run and elect candidates that represent the true will of the Real American (shee)people who stopped voting years ago.

  16. Jr says:

    The GOP needs to have their “come to Jesus moment” that the Dems had with their bigots back in the 60’s. It just isn’t feasible anymore to continue to pander to these people. The country has changed and the bigots are really only going to be relevant for maybe 2-3 mid-term cycles and they already have been completely irrelevant when it comes to presidential elections.

    The GOP and bigots had a good 50 year partnership, but baby it is over… is time to get with the 21st century..

  17. michael reynolds says:


    The problem is they aren’t pandering. They are these people. This isn’t some small part of who they are, it’s the essence of who they are.

  18. Jr says:

    @michael reynolds: You may be right, maybe I am just being naive in believing that the GOP establishment are just cowards, more so then pure ignorant bigots like the base.

  19. Eric Florack says:

    @Franklin: arrrgh. Not the one I intended. sorry.
    and by the way, I dont run an I phone.

  20. gVOR08 says:

    @Jr: As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be – the conservative party exists to preserve existing wealth and power. The Republican Party IS the .01%. The base are just rubes conned into voting against their own interests. The establishment aren’t cowards, nor are they bigots. With the caveat that conservatives tend to believe their own BS over time, they don’t care one way or another about the cultural stuff. Their wealthy gay friends are secure. They can send their daughters to Paris for abortions. They want parts of government large enough to subsidize them and other parts too small to regulate them. The visibility and slight influence of the base waxes and wanes, but the underlying lack of concern for 99.99% of the country remains.

  21. Eric Florack says:

    This was the one I intended

    The one I posted was apparently the result of looking at related links.
    sorry for the error.

  22. Eric Florack says:

    @gVOR08: Youve got that a little sideways.

  23. gVOR08 says:

    @Eric Florack: You got a case, make it.

  24. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Yeah, I’m not buying this is the link you meant. The first was an actual poll which–if accurate–would have been damning to those in charge.

    The second thing you posted was a milquetoast article about general voter malaise. These articles come out every. single. election.

    I think its more likely that you were SURE young people were disappointed about the future (because a Real Conservative (TM) was not in charge), and googled something to back you up.

    Only then to realize the poll came out from when Republicans were in charge of the Executive Branch, both houses of the legislator, and the supreme court.

  25. anjin-san says:

    From Florack’s link:

    President Barack Obama’s approval is down to only 40 percent in the latest survey. Only 36 percent of those asked approve of his handling of foreign policy.

    Republicans don’t fare much better.

    Only 19 percent view them favorably

    Seems a bit math challenged…

  26. humanoid.panda says:

    @anjin-san: In his defense, I am pretty sure a healthy chunk of the people who disapprove of Republicans in Congress are people mad they haven’t yet driven the usurper from the White House.

  27. michael reynolds says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    Mmm, yeah. I believe you have Sherlocked that.

  28. MikeSJ says:

    I seem to have two thoughts on this.

    First, the whole social values strategy was very short-sighted.

    Now if 90% of people over 70 oppose gay marriage and 90% of people under 30 are for it, which side do you take? Like most grifters they prefer the short con. Make money now, make it today and when the momentum from this issue runs out go find another one. This may be why the conservatives are foaming at the mouth over immigration. The gays, the sluts, the dirty effing hippies and Jane Fonda aren’t getting them mileage anymore.

    The second thought is the party is run by the .01 (as noted earlier.) My take away is these people don’t think of themselves as Americans but more so a world elite. What happens to people in Kansas matters to them as much as what happens to people in Nairobi. They don’t give a crap. Their hired servants use social issues as a smokescreen for the real issues – money.

    Kids are in school in Switzerland and Paris. Estates all over the world. Yacht’s parked off the French Riviera.

    Something Something Kansas? What? Who gives a F.?

  29. JKB says:

    Those seem like pretty weak social issues to rouse the electorate over. Gay marriage, it has been legalized by judicial decision about everywhere it has been banned. So where’s the fire? Could be like abortion, which cannot be outlawed without first amending the Constitution? But how many Dems actually vote abortion? And contraceptives? Well, perhaps for the unthinking, which I guess is a good portion of the Dem voters. But there isn’t an effort to outlaw contraceptives. The whole issue is over making people who personally don’t believe in their use buy them for others. The Dems are missing a big opportunity here by not moving to make birth control the first item provided by the single-payer system they say they love.

    On the other hand, a direct assault on religious freedom has been known to motivate people. Especially when that assault isn’t even legislative but by government bureaucrat fiat. The latter a trivial matter to roll back with a change in Party, i.e., it takes a memo, maybe a comment period. And I presume if people aren’t giving up their opposition to same-sex marriage, they’d be more likely to tilt at windmills by voting for a guy who sells them. And, of course, the opposition to abortion, while also a futile cause, is based on a desire to not be a party to the acceptable killing of humans during gestation.

    So perhaps the Dems are gaining advantage but I see that advantage slipping away if the choice comes between a working economy and one still touted as the “new norm”. Not much risk on social issues for voting Republican for economic issues. Although, i guess if your vote got “outed”, then there is a big social price for DemProgs?

  30. reid says:

    @JKB: I think (hope) people are also starting to understand that Republicans aren’t good for economic and foreign affair issues, as well as social ones. Witness Brownback’s failed experiment in Kansas. At some point, the facts and data have to catch up to them.

  31. JKB says:


    The Republican advantage right now, is they are the ones “running” this bad economy. The Democrats are putting anyone new up so far so it the desire for change comes to the electorate, they’ll come up short.

  32. anjin-san says:

    @ JKB

    a direct assault on religious freedom has been known to motivate people

    Do let us know when one takes place.

  33. PJ says:


    Do let us know when one takes place.

    Maybe he’s talking about Republicans allowing Christian symbols but not symbols from other religions?

  34. JKB says:


    You realize that it is their perception of a direct assault that matters. So citing an instance you agree with doesn’t matter.

  35. Eric Florack says:

    @humanoid.panda: Well, again… the majority of people don’t vote. Year over year, the number of voters has been going down since Reagan. The most logical answer to that is the vast majority of people find no connection with either party’s establishment, The hinge point being Reagan is a clue. Let’s see if you can figure it out.

    @Neil Hudelson: same points, will explain a few of your questions as well.

    You can buy it or not as you like. I don’t much care.

  36. Eric Florack says:

    @gVOR08: The establishment GOP is most certainly not conservative. Thus, pointed, simply follow your nose.

  37. humanoid.panda says:

    @Eric Florack: Actually, that is blatantly false:

    Here are the relevant figures from Wikipedia:
    1960 109,672 68,836 62.8%
    1964 114,090 70,098 61.4%
    1968 120,285 73,027 60.7%
    1972 140,777 77,625 55.1%
    1976 152,308 81,603 53.6%
    1980 163,945 86,497 52.8%
    1984 173,995 92,655 53.3%
    1988 181,956 91,587 50.3%
    1992 189,493 104,600 55.2%
    1996 196,789 96,390 49.0%
    2000 209,787 105,594 50.3%
    2004 219,553 122,349 55.7%
    2008 229,945 131,407 57.1%
    2012 211,731[citation needed] 121,745 57.5%

    So, we see that there is a decline from Johnson’s great society (the fact that the hinge is LBJ is a clue), that continues all through the Reagan years, then a jump in 1992, another decline and a spike associated with Obama. Note that years with above trend turnout (1992, 2008, 2012 tend to favor Democrats, so every single word of your post is wrong.

    Why do you humiliate yourself in public?

  38. humanoid.panda says:

    Here is the same data in graph form. Special prizes will be given to the ones that can plot a trendline proving that Ronaldus Magnus got more Americans to the polls than the Kenyan usurper. Contributions that will argue that all that counts are real Americans will not be considered.

  39. wr says:

    @Eric Florack: “The most logical answer to that is the vast majority of people find no connection with either party’s establishment, The hinge point being Reagan is a clue. Let’s see if you can figure it out.”

    Ooh! Ooh! I’ve got it! People voted enthusiastically for Reagan, thinking he would be a great leader who could help the country, and when they realized he was a complete fraud interested in only transferring our wealth to the already rich and helping Latin American dictatorships murder their poor people they became disillusioned with politics.

    That’s what you meant, right?

  40. Grewgills says:

    The real hinge begins in the 1890s when participation dropped by about 20 points and bounced around 55% since. I was a little surprised that turn out was so low in the early 1800s and how rapid the increase was to regular turnout in the 70-80% range by the mid 1800s. It looks like the later half of the1800s was our golden age of political participation. Does anyone here know what accounted for that?

  41. Eric Florack says:

    @humanoid.panda: here’s a clue… do some research, and actually take the population figures of 18+ and toss them up against the actual votes. Youlll be amazed, I think.

  42. Eric Florack says:

    @Grewgills: Its a good point, and one I’ve noted in the past. I’ve always considered there to be several reasons. The civil war for one,

  43. gVOR08 says:

    @Eric Florack:

    You got a case, make it.

  44. Eric Florack says:

    @gVOR08: I just did.

    I mean come on. dole? McCain? Bush? These are most certainly centrists at best.
    Why is it that the GOP is dealing with all the challanges from the right? It is because they themselves are not OF the right, not conservative.

    If you need further proofs theyre not hard to find. look what happens when any conservative comes along. The GOP has spent its time since the 60’s playing whack a mole with conservatives, any that dare pop their heads up, the GOP leadership sound like the usual suspects here.

    Even Reagan.. I was there in 76… I saw it.

    The GOP are not conservative.

  45. gVOR08 says:

    @Eric Florack: You’re arguing that the Republican Party is not a conservative party? Whatever it is, it’s what we’ve got for a conservative party.

    Otherwise, you’re supporting my thesis, which was that the .01%ers that constitute the Republican establishment don’t care about your “conservative” issues. All this abortion, god, guns, and gays stuff is window dressing to get y’all to vote for them.

    I don’t think you really disagree with me. I think you disagree with the Republican Party.

  46. Eric Florack says:

    @gVOR08: true to an extent.
    The GOP drifting away from its conservative roots is exactly why the voter participation rate keeps dropping. The majority of America is well to the right of anything either party has offered in decades.

  47. Eric Florack says:

    @humanoid.panda: OK I’ll be a nice guy.
    You deserve none of it, but here goes.
    The percentages your clip lists, shows the percentages of registered voters, not the percentage of Americans. So, every word of your post is wrong.
    Why do you humiliate yourself this way? Anything for the left?

  48. humanoid.panda says:

    @Eric Florack: If you look at the chart I posted that is from wikipedia, but relies on census figures, you’ll see that the figures i cited are of voters as percent of total adult population, and yes, they show that without the shadow of a doubt, a higher proportion of adults voted in 2008 and 2012 than in 1980 and 1984.

    Of course, the Census, being ran by liberal eggheads and all, might be lying, but I seriously wonder whether you can fetch alternative figures from any other source.

    For special bonus point, here is a link to the Census table in question (pdf)L

  49. humanoid.panda says:

    @Eric Florack: Just look at the time when Barry Goldwater totally destroyed LBJ!

  50. humanoid.panda says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Oh this is precious:

    The percentages your clip lists, shows the percentages of registered voters, not the percentage of Americans. So, every word of your post is wrong.

    Go to the link I posted
    Slowly and carefully read the headings on the table, that clearly refers to VAP : Voting Age Population, and not to registered voters. In fact, this figure probably understates participation rates in elections, as many VAPs are either illegal immigrants of green card holders.
    Then, ponder what is it that makes you so unable to read a simple table without filtering it through your ideological misconceptions.
    For added bonus, read this poll that indicates what every single
    political scientist knows: people unlikely to vote would vote for Democrats if they actually voted: If, as you just proved, actually reading links posted by others is too onerous for you, here is the key finding:

    A nationwide USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll of people who are eligible to vote but aren’t likely to do so finds that these stay-at-home Americans back Obama’s re-election over Republican Mitt Romney by more than 2-1. Two-thirds of them say they are registered to vote. Eight in 10 say the government plays an important role in their lives.

    Are we done now?

  51. Dave D says:

    @stonetools: What is amazing is that Burke isn’t running on social issues at all. She is hammering Walker on the economy and touting her small business she ran. Walker can’t do or say anything about what is considered a (R) strong point economics. My dad has even said he won’t vote for Walker again since he has done nothing to help the state get back its footing. This is from a man, my dad, who helped get David Duke on ballots in the state. Walker torpedoed the economy of WI as proof by the lag behind every midwestern state and can’t respond to it. He has a tough election in front of him and hopefully this time the people will get it right.

  52. humanoid.panda says:

    @Dave D: At the very least, Burke has an election at at point in which if nothing changes from now until November, its basically a coin flip. This wasn’t the case in the recall election ,when Walker was leading by at least 3-4 poinst throughout the election, and the Dems’ only hope was that the polls are underestimating Madison/Milwaukee turnout.

  53. al-Ameda says:


    On the other hand, a direct assault on religious freedom has been known to motivate people. Especially when that assault isn’t even legislative but by government bureaucrat fiat.

    I want the Obama Administration to issue Executive Orders ending both the War on Christmas and the War on Easter. Even though both are fictional, it would be a nice touch.

  54. Dave D says:

    @humanoid.panda: I know a lot of people who stayed home or voted for Walker because they thought the recall was the wrong thing to do. There wasn’t the enthusiasm for the moderates to vote against him and most disagreed with the recall. Say what you will his divide and conquer strategy worked but only for so long, no it may be backfiring. The thing I used to respect about politics in WI is that the split in representation is usually pretty even and it led to a lot of compromise. That ended after the 2010 midterms and it is upsetting people. Also I think it helps that so many people can look at the states surrounding WI, MN in particular and see how much better their economies are doing without sticking it to the public sector.

  55. humanoid.panda says:

    @Dave D: The problem in Wisconsin is rather straightforward: Walker has a lock on the 47% Wisconsinites who voted for Romney,and they will come out for him in November. Many of the 53% of Wisconsinites who voted for Obama will not vote this year. The challenge for Burke is whether she can limit that damage and get the tiny sliver of people who voted for Walker as a change candidate in 2010 to switch this time. I’d give her a slightly, very slightly less than even odds now, if only because Walker has access to unlimited resources.

  56. gVOR08 says:

    @Eric Florack:

    The majority of America is well to the right of anything either party has offered in decades.

    Bullstuff. And you’re never going to address the actual point of my comment, are you? That the GOPs are the party of plutocrats, and you, the “true conservative” “Republican base”, are just the rubes who vote for them.

  57. grumpy realist says:

    @JKB: Those of us who are of the female persuasion don’t find abortion or contraceptives a “side issue.”

    We’re the ones left holding the bag after you guys have had your fun and then hot-tailed it out of here.

    As the old maxim goes: the difference between the chicken and the pig is that the chicken is involved but the pig is committed.

  58. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    Why do you humiliate yourself this way?

    Kinda funny coming from you. Aside from the routine drubbings you take here, I can recall two times when you were completely, utterly humiliated and totally destroyed on OTB, once by the publisher himself. I am talking about epic humiliation. Perhaps it’s just something you are used to.

  59. Grewgills says:

    @Eric Florack:
    The drop doesn’t happen until over 30 years after the civil war, so no that doesn’t appear to be the reason. You also seem to have missed that the graph provided by our anthropomorphic bear friend shows percentages of eligible voters participating in the elections. Both Reagan elections are on the low side of the new normal and both Obama elections are on the high side of the new normal. You are flat out wrong and yet you continue on as if somehow your point were valid. Did you even look at the data?

  60. rudderpedals says:

    @Grewgills: FWIW there was a terrible recession in the 1890s that spawned the muckrakers and swept in the trust busting progressives etc. Not sure if it’s a coincidence.

  61. Dave D says:

    @Grewgills: There were also multiple voting and machines which were being swept away around that time. There are some very interesting stories about party bosses drugging people and taking them to multiple polling stations. This is one of the theories on the death of Edgar Allen Poe.

  62. JKB says:

    @grumpy realist:

    You seem more grumpy than realist.

    Fact is abortion is legal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia
    Fact is contraceptives are legal and available for purchase in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

    So where is the issue for those who support abortion and contraceptive use?

  63. humanoid.panda says:

    @JKB: States that impose ridiculous burdens on the right for abortion? Forced ultrasounds? Supreme court decisions that allow “curbside counselling” that would never be allowed in front of a urology clinic? A supreme Court decision that upheld bans of partial birth abortion, reasoning that women, the poor dears, might be regretting abortions so they had to be regulated by the state, lest their puny brains be overloaded? The emerging black market in abortion pills in Texas after a blatantly unconstitutional law regulating abortion clinics to death was left standing by republican judges? The fact that the modest, gradual decision about only 4 forms of contraceptives now applies to all contracpetives and that another court case challenges the very accomodation the court relied on when passing the Hobby Lobby decision? The fact that a major party in the US has an absolutist forced birth position on its platform? The fact that forced birthers are not treated as the moral equivalent as pirates, slavers and open racists, as befits people who deny the essential humanity of half the human race?

  64. Grewgills says:

    It is rather popular that both are legal and the effort going into making them less available by those on the right concern people on the left and in the middle.