Red States Turning Blue?

The Washington Post has a great series on 2006 'Bellwethers.' It could easily be the material for a number of entries, but I'll start with just one section: Rethinking Red States

If you want to understand why Democrats are the minority party in Congress, look at four states: Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Kentucky. Before the 1994 elections, when Democrats still controlled both chambers, these Southern states had 24 Democratic House members and 14 Republicans. Among senators, there were five Republicans and three Democrats.

Look today. There are 24 GOP House members and 15 Democrats, and all eight senators are Republicans.
Quite the turn-around. How do Democrats hope to make inroads into 'strong' red territory?
They hope to underscore that they do not fit stereotypes of Democrats as cultural liberals, and they hope to win voters with a mix of economic populism and traditional values. There is talk of raising the minimum wage and creating more jobs, but usually little about abortion or gun control.
First, no Democrat has talked about gun control in a decade. They know that as an issue, gun control kills them in rural (and many suburban) areas and does little to benefit them in urban areas. The only time 'gun control' gets mentioned is when it's used as a electoral boogie-man by Republicans. Abortion is just red meat for social conservatives. Ensuring a woman's right to choose could be a similar incentive for liberal/progressive/sane voters to come to the polls as well. With the current political climate becoming more an more favorable for a roll-back on Roe v. Wade, the majority of Americans that support a woman's right to choose could become an important voting block.

The Washington Post highlights some races where Democrats could make some pickups in 2006. Most of the districts are in states on the border of 'Red America.' Two are in Virginia: First, is Virginia's 2nd District where Democrat Phil Kellam is running against Rep. Thelma D. Drake. Also in Virginia we find James Webb, Ronald Reagan's Secretary of the Navy as a new Democratic Convert, running against George Allen for the Senate.

Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina all have races which the Post considers bellwethers. In Kentucky, Ken Lucas (D) is running to take back the House seat he held from 1998 to 2004. Ex-Washington Redskins quarterback Heath Shuler is trying to have more luck than Ex-Steeler Lynn Swann in North Carolina's 11th district.

The 'sixth year' midterms has seen the opposition party gain ground all but once in the last century. This election, baring any sort of October Surprise, should be no exception. Time Magazine observes that the White House is going to skip the August 'working vacation' at the Crawford ranch in favor of campaigning for various Republican Candidates. The article also includes this:
"Their [the White House's] outlook thus far seems so ominous for the G.O.P. that one presidential adviser wants Bush to beef up his counsel's office for the tangle of investigations that a Democrat-controlled House might pursue,"
Doesn't sound good for Bush or the GOP in general come November. Hopefully in 2008 we'll be able to continue our gains.

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