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The Washington Post With a keen eye for demographic and cultural trends, Judis and Teixeira argue persuasively that George [W.] Bush's Republican Party is headed for a showdown with the American electorate....An important book.
Chapter Three: The Geography of the New Majority
After the 2000 election, political commentators began referring to the Democrats as the "blues" and the Republicans as the "reds" — terms corresponding to the blotches of states that Gore and Bush won on the electoral map. And the question of America's political future has been posed in terms of who will dominate — the blues or the reds. In American politics, that's entirely appropriate, because as the 2000 election agonizingly demonstrated, presidents don't get elected by winning national majorities, but by winning states. And longstanding majorities are not constructed out of random voters, but out of support from certain states and regions.
Until the Great Depression, the Republicans were the party of the North and Midwest and the Democrats the party of the segregated South. In the 1930s, the New Deal Democrats put the Solid South together with the growing cities of the North, Midwest, and Far West to form a new majority. The Republican "reds" were confined to New England and the farm states. In the 1980s, the Reagan Republicans turned the New Deal configuration upside down by capturing the South. They combined traditional Republican support in the prairies with a new majority in the Sunbelt — a large swatch of land stretching southward along the Virginia tidewater down to Georgia and Florida, around to Mississippi and Texas and across to southern California.
The emerging Democratic majority looks as if it will mirror the conservative Republican majority it is replacing. Its strength lies in the Northeast, the upper Midwest through Minnesota, and over to the Pacific Northwest. But like the old McKinley majority, it includes the Sunbelt prize of California. Over the last three elections, Democrats were able to win states with 267 electoral votes in these areas. That's only three short of a majority. In the 2004 election, these states will account for 260 electoral votes, ten short of a majority. This suggests that the Democrats are on the verge of establishing the same kind of "lock" on the electoral college that the Republicans enjoyed in the 1980s. They won't automatically win all these electoral votes — a Republican presidential candidate from Pennsylvania, for instance, might win that state just as Mondale won Minnesota in 1984, and Republican George W. Bush, buoyed by his success in fighting terrorism, could overcome underlying trends — but, all else being equal, Democrats can be assured of beginning an election campaign at a distinct advantage over the Republicans.
The major parties also represent certain kinds of industries, which are primarily located in certain states and regions. The Jacksonian Democrats united Southern and Western farmers with urban workingmen; the McKinley Republicans spoke for the new industrial corporations and banks; and the New Deal Democrats captured the new mass-production industries in the North. The conservative Republicans were the party of the military bases, shipyards, aerospace firms, and space centers that dotted the Sunbelt. Indeed, in the 1980s, the Sunbelt had 142 military bases — more than the rest of the nation put together.
The emerging Democratic majority is closely linked to the spread of the postindustrial economy. Democrats are strongest in areas where the production of ideas and services has either redefined or replaced assembly-line manufacturing, particularly in the North and West, but also including some Southern states like Florida. Republicans are strongest in states like Mississippi, Wyoming, and South Carolina (as well as in former Democratic enclaves like Kentucky) where the transition to postindustrial society has lagged. There are exceptions to this pattern, of course, but they are anomalies — states like Utah where cultural conservatism runs deep or regions like California's San Diego County where the Sunbelt military ethos is still strong. Since America is moving toward a postindustrial economy, that gives the Democrats a significant advantage in the decade to come.
This new postindustrial politics is not defined by states, however, but by metropolitan regions within states. These postindustrial metropolises, which we call ideopolises, are the breeding ground for the new Democratic majority. Insofar as they are not confined to the Northeast, Far West, and upper Midwest, but are also found in the South and Southwest, the Democrats have a chance of building a large majority and of rewriting today's political map. By our count, Democrats could enjoy by 2008 a state-by-state advantage of 332 electoral votes, well more than they need for a majority, plus a competitive position in a number of additional states that might swell that majority. The key to the development of this electoral dominance will be the spread of these ideopolises.
The transition to postindustrial society has transformed the economic geography of the country. After World War II, industrial society was divided into three domains: cities, which housed offices and manufacturing plants; suburbs, where many of the workers lived; and rural areas of farms, mines, and forests. Postindustrial society is organized around metropolitan areas that include both suburbs and central cities. Goods production has moved out of the central city into the suburbs, or even into semirural areas in the south-central Midwest. There is a clear contrast between metropolitan and rural areas, and also a sharp difference between metropolitan areas like Silicon Valley that bear the marks of postindustrial society and other metropolitan areas like Muncie, Indiana, or Fresno, California, that are still relatively backward in telecommunications, computers, and high-tech jobs.
Some of the new postindustrial metropolitan areas like Silicon Valley or Colorado's Boulder area contain significant manufacturing facilities, but it is the kind of manufacturing — whether of pharmaceuticals or semiconductors — that applies complex ideas to physical objects. The amount of labor time expended in researching and developing these ideas far outweighs that in producing the final goods. That has become true even of automobile production in eastern Michigan. While much of the actual production has moved southward, much of the research and development and engineering of automobiles (which now make extensive use of computer technology) is conducted in Michigan.
Some of these metro areas specialize in producing what Joel Kotkin and Ross C. DeVol call soft technology — entertainment, media, fashion, design, and advertising — and in providing databases, legal counsel, and other business services. New York City and Los Angeles are both premier postindustrial metropolises that specialize in soft technology. Most of these postindustrial metropolises also include a major university or several major universities, which funnel ideas and, more important, people into the hard or soft technology industries. Boston's Route 128 feeds off Harvard and MIT. Silicon Valley is closely linked to Stanford and the University of California at Berkeley. Dane County's biomedical research is tied to the University of Wisconsin at Madison. And all of them have a flourishing service sector, including computer learning centers, ethnic and vegetarian restaurants, multimedia shopping malls, children's museums, bookstore-coffee shops, and health clubs.
Professionals and technicians are heavily concentrated in the workforces of these postindustrial metropolises. A quarter or so of the jobs in Austin (Texas), Raleigh-Durham, Boston, or San Francisco are held by professionals and technicians. Plentiful, too, are low-level service and information workers, including waiters, hospital orderlies, salesclerks, janitors, and teacher's aides. Many of these jobs have been filled by Hispanics and African-Americans, just as many of the high-level professional jobs have been filled by Asian immigrants. It's one reason that the workforces in these areas we call ideopolises tend to be ethnically diverse and more complex in their stratification (various combinations of employers, employees, contract workers, temps, consultants, and the self-employed) than the workforce of the older industrial city.
The ethos and mores of many of these new metropolitan areas tend to be libertarian and bohemian, because of the people they attract. Economists Richard Florida and Gary Gates found a close correlation between the concentration of gays and of the foreign-born and the concentration of high technology and information technology within a metropolitan area. They also found a high percentage of people who identified themselves as artists, musicians, and craftspeople. Concluded Florida, "Diversity is a powerful force in the value systems and choices of the new workforce, whose members want to work for companies and live in communities that reflect their openness and tolerance. The number one factor in choosing a place to live and work, they say, is diversity. Talented people will not move to a place that ostracizes certain groups."
Within metropolitan areas, ideopolises come in different stages and configurations. In the San Francisco Bay Area or the Chicago Metro area, the work and culture of the ideopolis pervades the entire metropolitan area. Many of the same people, the same businesses, and the same coffee shops or bookstores can be found in the central city or in the suburbs. These are the most advanced and integrated ideopolises. Politically, many of these areas used to be Republican, but have become extremely Democratic in their politics. In the 2000 election, Al Gore didn't campaign in Colorado, but still carried the Denver-Boulder area 56-35 percent. He won Portland's Multnomah County 64-28 percent. Princeton University's Mercer County went for Gore 61-34 percent. Seattle's King County was 60-34 percent for Gore.
The Democrats' vote in these integrated ideopolises included, of course, professionals, women, and minorities, but it also included relatively strong support from the white working class — the very group that had begun to abandon the Democrats during the sixties and that formed the backbone of the Reagan majority. In the most advanced ideopolises, the white working class seems to embrace the same values as professionals, and in some of them, white working-class men vote remarkably similarly to their female counterparts. As a result, Republican appeals to race (or resentment against immigrants), guns, and abortion have largely fallen on deaf ears, and these voters have not only rejected Republican social conservatism, but also reverted to their prior preference for Democratic economics. In Seattle's King County, white working-class voters backed Gore 50-42 percent. In Portland's Multnomah County, it was 71-24 percent. By comparison, working-class whites nationwide supported Bush 57-40 percent.
Sometimes, of course, high-tech development has taken place either on the outskirts of the central city or in the suburbs — with the inner city impoverished and underdeveloped. Predictably, the politics of these areas are different, too. St. Louis, Cleveland, and Detroit, though pro-Democratic as a whole, have politics marked by familiar race and class cleavages. The most Democratic groups are minorities and college-educated women, while many, and sometimes most, white working-class and college-educated males still vote Republican. In Cleveland's Cuyahoga County, for instance, white college-educated men backed Bush 55-38 percent and white working-class voters supported him 45-42 percent, while white college-educated women backed Gore 67-28 percent. Voters in St. Charles County, across the river from the black section of St. Louis, used to be Democrats, but gave Wallace 19.4 percent in 1968. Since then, these suburban voters have consistently identified Democrats with St. Louis blacks and have voted heavily for Republicans. In 2000, St. Charles voted for Bush 56-42 percent and for extreme-right-wing Republican congressman Todd Akin.
Also, in some burgeoning metropolitan areas, a county or city has become a center of high technology or information technology, but the surrounding semirural counties have been largely unaffected by these developments. Some of the counties that surround Charlotte, North Carolina, Columbus, Ohio (where Ohio State University and the state capitol are located) and Lansing, Michigan (where Michigan State University and the state capitol are located) tend to be rural or small-town and very Republican, while the central area has become increasingly Democratic. Eventually, the culture and politics of the city will spread farther into the metropolitan area, but in the meantime, the core city or county will vote much more Democratic than the surrounding suburbs.
Finally, some postindustrial metropolitan areas are well integrated between city and suburb, but have not adopted the libertarian ethos of the ideopolis. In Salt Lake City or Colorado Springs, for instance, a conservative religious culture precludes the bohemian and libertarian spirit that normally accompanies the development of the most advanced ideopolises. But nationally these areas are the exception. In most areas where an ideopolis has arisen alongside a conservative religious culture — as in the Kansas suburbs of Kansas City — the two soon find themselves at war.
To gauge the effect of these ideopolises nationally, we looked at 263 counties that are part of metro areas with the highest concentrations of high-tech economic activity or that contain a front-rank research university. Most of these areas used to be Republican and voted for Republican presidential candidates in 1980 and 1984. In 1984, for instance, they went 55-44 percent for Reagan. But in 2000, Gore garnered 54.6 percent of the vote in these areas compared to 41.4 percent for Bush. And since Nader got 3.3 percent in these counties, the total Democratic-leaning vote in America's ideopolises can be reckoned at close to 58 percent.
By contrast, Democrats have continued to lose in rural areas in Missouri and Pennsylvania and in many low-tech metropolitan areas like Greenville, South Carolina, that have not made the postindustrial transition. In all, Gore lost the nonideopolis counties 52.9-43.6 percent. Indeed, if you compare 1980, the beginning of the Reagan era, to today, it is clear that almost all of the pro-Democratic change in the country since then has been concentrated in America's ideopolis counties.
The Democrats' victory in these postindustrial metro areas is likely to translate into a national majority over the next decade. Together, the ideopolises account for 43.7 percent of the vote nationally. They represent the most dynamic and growing areas of the country. Between 1990 and 2000, the average ideopolis county grew by 23.2 percent compared to 11.1 percent for the average U.S. county and 10 percent for the average nonideopolis county. And ideopolis counties start from a large population base — an average of 475,000 inhabitants, compared to 90,000 for all counties and just 54,000 for the typical nonideopolis county. Their vote should, if anything, increase in the next decade, and if the trend toward the Democrats in these areas continues, that would give the Democratic Party a solid base for a new majority.
To see how this would translate into a presidential majority — and also a majority in Congress — we will analyze the vote in each region and the key states. This survey is for readers who want to see how the new majority is actually emerging in states from California and Oregon to New Jersey and North Carolina and the major role that is being played by the development of ideopolises.
From 1968 through 1984, the only Western state won by a Democrat was Washington, which Humphrey captured in 1968. The West was a Republican preserve. But during the 1990s, the Pacific coast states became dependably Democratic, and Democrats have begun to make inroads in the Southwest. The most important change occurred in California, and it happened largely because of the growth of the postindustrial economy.
In American politics, California has long been a trendsetter. Progressive Party candidate Robert La Follette's astonishing showing in 1924 — he got 33.1 percent of the presidential vote against conservative Democratic and Republican candidates — foreshadowed the coming New Deal majority. Ronald Reagan's defeat of a Republican progressive in the 1966 gubernatorial primary and of the liberal Democratic incumbent in the general election anticipated the conservative Republican realignment of 1980, in which Reagan himself and California's electoral votes would play the leading role.
This time, California may be the harbinger of a new Democratic majority. After having voted for a Republican candidate in six successive presidential elections from 1968 through 1988, Californians strongly backed Clinton in 1992 and 1996 and Gore in 2000, in each case by a margin of 12 to 13 percent. Starting in 1992, Californians elected and subsequently reelected two Democratic senators. Republicans controlled the governor's office from 1982 to 1998, but in November 1998, Democrat Gray Davis won in a landslide, and Democrats won every other state office except one. This political shift was the result of factors that also prevailed, although less dramatically, in other parts of the country: the transition to postindustrial society, which created large ideopolises in northern and southern California; the GOP's dogged and continued turn to the right; the Democrats' move to the center; and the growth of the state's minority population.
The key development was the political reconciliation of northern and southern California, which had been sundered by Reagan's candidacy in 1966. In that election, by three to one, Reagan won the support of formerly Democratic white working-class voters in the Los Angeles area. These voters, many of whom worked for the aerospace industry, took umbrage at the rise of the antiwar left on California's campuses and were disturbed by the Watts riot of 1965 and by the growing civil rights movement in the state. Over the next two decades, voters in southern California, except for minority and Jewish enclaves, backed Republican conservatives, while the Bay Area in northern California remained generally Democratic, with a strong current of moderate, upscale Republicanism in San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Contra Costa counties. But in the nineties, the differences between the Bay Area and Los Angeles County suddenly disappeared, and the two most populous areas in the state, making up about 45 percent of the population, both began voting strongly for Democrats.
Beginning in 1988, the Bay Area ideopolis, which includes Silicon Valley (the area with the highest concentration of high-technology and information-technology jobs in the country), became even more Democratic. Voters in San Francisco and Alameda County backed Dukakis by two to one, and voters in the formerly moderate-Republican bastions in Santa Clara, San Mateo, and Contra Costa counties — wary of the Republicans' identification with the religious right — also supported Dukakis against George Bush. By 2000, the area immediately around San Francisco was supporting Gore by well over two to one, with San Francisco turning in some staggering figures — 76 percent for Gore, 16 percent for Bush, and 8 percent for Nader — and even Contra Costa, the least Democratic of the Bay Area counties, going for Gore 59-37 percent. Befitting the culture of the most advanced ideopolis, there were no sharp differences between working-class and professional voters. Both college-educated and working-class white voters in the Bay Area backed Gore by roughly equal amounts — 65-29 percent among the former and 70-25 percent among the latter. And white female voters as a whole backed Gore 78-19 percent.
As northern California went even more Democratic, the south began turning back to the Democrats. The impetus was economic. In the early 1990s, the recession and the cutbacks in military spending eliminated more than three hundred thousand manufacturing jobs in the state, many of them in the Los Angeles aerospace industry. Some of these workers, who had been essential to the conservative Republican majority, moved out of state or to neighboring Ventura, Orange, or Riverside counties. Others found employment in the new postindustrial economy that grew up in the 1990s. This economy, centered around computer services, biotechnology, and entertainment, relied on highly skilled professionals, technicians, and unskilled service workers. In 1983, there were almost twice as many aerospace workers as workers in the motion picture industry. By 2000, almost three times more workers were employed in motion pictures than in aerospace. Los Angeles County had become one of the nation's leading ideopolises.
As the economic cultures of these areas became similar, so, too, did their political cultures. According to an extensive survey conducted in 1998 by California's Public Policy Institute, Bay Area and Los Angeles residents held similar favorable views on the need for environmental regulations and the importance of government regulating business in the public interest, both thought religion should be kept out of politics, and both favored affirmative action programs. As many as 35 percent of Los Angeles residents and 36 percent of San Francisco Bay Area residents described their views as "liberal"; all together, 69 percent of both Los Angeles and San Francisco residents described their views as either "liberal" or "middle of the road."
The views in these two ideopolises are in striking contrast to those in California's primarily agricultural Central Valley, where the workforce is largely divided between manager-owners and workers, and where, except in Sacramento, there is no flourishing service sector. Even when Democratic Sacramento is included in this survey, residents of the Central Valley took a far less favorable view of government regulation of business, affirmative action, immigrants, and government assistance to the poor and were more likely to approve of politicians invoking religion. For example, residents of the Los Angeles area (61-33) and the San Francisco area (67-30) strongly endorsed the view that environmental regulation is worth the costs over the view that environmental regulation costs too many jobs. In contrast, residents of the Central Valley, again even including relatively liberal Sacramento, were split about down the middle, 48-45 percent.
As might be expected, the state's major ideopolises voted Democratic and its nonideopolis counties went Republican. In 1992, Clinton defeated Bush 53-29 percent in Los Angeles and 57-25 percent in the Bay Area. In 1996 and 2000, Clinton and Gore won both Los Angeles and the Bay Area by two-to-one margins. On the other hand, Clinton just tied 39-39 percent in the Central Valley in 1992 and lost the region by 4 percent to Dole in 1996. Then, in 2000, even while winning Sacramento, Gore was handily defeated by George W. Bush 54-42 percent in the overall Central Valley.
In the state as a whole, Gore won the ideopolis counties, but lost the counties that have not yet been transformed by the postindustrial economy. California's fourteen ideopolis counties, which made up 69 percent of the overall vote, supported Gore 57-38 percent, while the forty-four nonideopolis counties supported Bush 49-46. Bush did win two areas of high-tech concentration in Orange County and San Diego County south of Los Angeles, but in these counties, the religious right has had a strong presence, and the military continues to be a leading employer. Even so, both these areas have become far less Republican over the last two decades — a result of the impact of the postindustrial economy and of the growth in the Hispanic and Asian populations. George Bush carried San Diego by 22 points in 1988, but his son carried it by only 4 points, 50-46.
The other factor that has transformed California into a Democratic bulwark is growing support from Hispanics and Asians, who by 2000 made up 44 percent of the population in California and about 20 percent of the voting electorate statewide and 57 percent of the population in Los Angeles County. Latinos had been pro-Democratic throughout the twentieth century, but Reagan and other Republican candidates could hope to get as much as 40 percent of the California Latino vote. Until the 1990s, Democrats were lucky to get half of the Asian vote, which included pro-Republican Chinese-Americans and Vietnamese-Americans.
But over the next eight years, Hispanics became decidedly more Democratic than before, especially in state elections, and Asians became dependably Democratic. What moved many new Hispanics into the Democratic column was the 1994 governor's race. In that race, the Republican incumbent, Pete Wilson, faced with a stagnant economy, played a version of the race card that the party had successfully used in the sixties and seventies to win office. He tried to blame the lingering slowdown in the California economy on illegal Mexican immigrants. Wilson championed Proposition 187 to deny public services to the children of these illegal immigrants. Wilson won against an inept opponent, but he deeply alienated Hispanic voters. After Proposition 187, the Republicans' share of the Hispanic vote has consistently been low. In the 1998 gubernatorial race, the Republican candidate, Dan Lungren, only got about 20 percent of the Hispanic vote, which by then accounted for 14 percent of the electorate in California. In the 1996 presidential election, Clinton got about 73 percent of the Hispanic vote against Bob Dole, who championed an English-only requirement, and in 2000, Gore got 71 percent against Bush, even though Bush, speaking Spanish, vigorously campaigned among Hispanics.
Asians, too, have moved Democratic. As we recounted in chapter 2, Chinese-Americans and Vietnamese-Americans, in particular, became more Democratic in the 1990s. In the 2000 election, Gore easily defeated Bush by about 57-40 percent in California among Asian voters (one survey had the margin as high as 63-33).
The growth of the Hispanic population has been particularly important in changing Orange County's politics. Hispanics make up about 31 percent of Orange County's population, but 62 percent of the forty-sixth congressional district, which includes Santa Ana, the largest city in Orange County. Until 1996, the congressional seat was held by archconservative Republican Robert Dornan, who won with a coalition of white and Vietnamese-American voters. But in 1996, Dornan was defeated for reelection by Mexican-American businesswoman Loretta Sanchez. And Clinton also beat Dole in the district, which had always been Republican, 49-41 percent. After the election, Dornan charged that Sanchez had stolen the election with votes from illegal immigrants. Dornan's charge further inflamed California's Hispanics and ensured that in their rematch in 1998, Sanchez would defeat Dornan easily, 56-39 percent. In 2000 — a final indication of how Orange County had changed — Gore would carry this district 54-42 percent and Ralph Nader would get 2 percent of the vote.
Both Oregon and Washington went Democratic in 1988, the same year that Democrats began to win Silicon Valley in California. Both states had residual New Deal voters, especially among unionized workers in Washington, but their dramatic shift into the Democratic column occurred because of the growth of the ideopolises around Portland's Multnomah County, which accounts for 45.7 percent of Oregon's votes, and around Seattle's King County, which accounts for 43.3 percent of Washington's vote.
Both states typify the new progressive centrist politics. The voters back regulatory capitalism, but are wary of ambitious social engineering. Perot got 24 percent in Washington in 1992, and in 1994, the state's voters, alienated by Clinton's policy failures, backed Republicans, leading to a seven-to-two Republican edge in Congress. But Clinton's increased effectiveness, especially on economics, and move to the center, combined with the Republican Party's capture by Southern conservatives, moved Washington voters back into the Democratic column. By November 2000, Democrats had six of nine congressional seats, both Senate seats (both of which were held by women), control of every major state position except commissioner of public lands, and control of both legislative houses. In both states, the Democrats' hold looks as if it will strengthen. Along with Hawaii, New Mexico (which combines a Hispanic and high-tech vote), and California, they form a solid Democratic majority in the West for years to come.
Much of Nevada votes like California's Central Valley, but the fastest-growing area in Nevada — and one of the fastest in the country — is Las Vegas's Clark County. It added about 630,000 residents in the 1990s, over a third of whom were Hispanic. Las Vegas's economy, based around entertainment, resembles that of Los Angeles, and it is voting increasingly like Los Angeles. After voting for George Bush in 1988 by 56-41 percent, it supported Clinton twice, and Gore in 2000, giving the Democratic candidate a higher percentage of the vote each time. If Clark County's population continues to grow at the rate it has been and continues trending politically as it has, Nevada could become dependably Democratic in the next decade.
In Colorado and Arizona, Democrats have begun to make inroads. Democratic hopes in Arizona, which backed Clinton in 1996, depend upon the growing Tucson-area ideopolis, which is pro-Democratic, and upon the rising Hispanic population, which went from 19 to 25 percent of the state in the 1990s. In addition, the Democrats could benefit from a continuing pro-Democratic trend in Phoenix's Maricopa County, the largest county in Arizona and the county with the largest growth in the nation. In 1988, Bush senior carried Maricopa 65-34 percent; in 2000, his son's margin was down to just 53-43, a swing of 21 points toward the Democrats.
Colorado might also go Democratic over the next decade. Granted, rural Colorado votes like Wyoming, while Colorado Springs's El Paso County is influenced by the religious right and the culture of the military. (It is home to the Air Force Academy and to conservative evangelist James Dobson's Focus on the Family.) But the Denver and Boulder area votes like the San Francisco Bay Area. And Colorado's pro-Democratic Hispanic population grew from 13 to 17 percent of the state in the 1990s. After backing Clinton in 1992, Colorado did support Dole in 1996 and Bush in 2000, but Clinton barely lost in 1996 — Nader's vote provided the difference — and Bush benefited in 2000 from an even larger Nader vote — 5.25 percent — and from Gore's failure to campaign in the state. Democrats should stand a good chance of winning Colorado in the future.
Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and Alaska vote like western Washington, rural Oregon, and parts of the Central Valley of California — which is to say, they view the national Democratic Party as an alien force dominated by labor, Eastern cities, and minorities. What helps Democrats in suburban California or New Jersey — support for gun control, federal land management, environmentalism, and feminism — kills them in many of these states. To win in these states — or in Nebraska, Kansas, South and North Dakota — a Democrat has to be deeply rooted in the state's culture, fight fiercely for the state's special interests, and, if necessary, distance
her- or himself from the national party. A national Democratic candidate can generally only win in these states if the Republican is unpopular — as Clinton showed in Montana in 1992.
Utah contains a postindustrial area in Salt Lake City and several other smaller concentrations of high-tech research and development, but it has not adopted the bohemian culture of the ideopolis. Instead, its culture and its politics are shaped by the omnipresent Mormon religion, which opposes homosexuality, looks askance at feminism, and until 1978 prohibited blacks from being pastors. As a result, it is dependably Republican.
After the Civil War, the Northeast was the most Republican area in the nation for a long while. Even during Roosevelt's New Deal years, Vermont and Maine remained solidly Republican. In the 1948 presidential election, the Northeast, from Maine down to Maryland, except for Massachusetts and Rhode Island, voted for Republican Thomas Dewey. But Northeastern Republicanism bore little resemblance to the conservative Sunbelt Republicanism of Goldwater and Reagan, and after the recession of the early nineties and the capture of the Republican Party by the extreme right, the Northeast began to move strongly into the Democratic column.
The Northeast has become to the emerging Democratic majority what the South was to the conservative Republican majority of the 1980s. In the last three presidential elections, only New Hampshire and West Virginia went Republican, and only once. And while Republicans still hold some key congressional seats and governorships, it's mostly out of historical habit. Northeastern Republicans like New York congressman Jack Quinn, Maryland congresswoman Connie Morella, or Rhode Island senator Lincoln Chafee are moderates whose voting records are largely indistinguishable from moderate Democrats — and in a few cases, a little more liberal. Eventually, when these senators and House members retire, Democrats are likely to replace them. And in some cases, it may not even take that long, since there's always the possibility of defecting as did Long Island congressman Michael Forbes (who was then denied reelection when a left-wing Democrat defeated him in the primary) and as did Vermont senator James Jeffords in 2001.
One of the latest, and most significant, states to go Democratic has been New Jersey. Like California, it has been a bellwether state that went with the winner in the presidential election twenty-two of twenty-five times in the twentieth century. It supported the Republican nominee from 1968 through 1988, but has now backed Democrats three times in a row. Republicans controlled the governor's office and a majority of the House seats in the midnineties, but all the major state offices and a majority of House seats are now in Democratic hands.
New Jersey went Democratic for many of the same reasons that California did. In the nineties, its minority population, which votes overwhelmingly Democratic, grew from 26 to 33 percent; the state's white working class, after abandoning the Democrats in the eighties, began returning to the fold with the recession of 1991; and the state's economy, once dependent upon heavy industry, has now become a leader in high-tech and information technology. New Jersey still has over four hundred thousand manufacturing jobs, about a tenth of the labor force, but many of these jobs are in the high-tech telecommunications and pharmaceutical firms that run along Highway 1 through Princeton's Mercer County and Middlesex County then eastward to Monmouth County.
New Jersey also used to be known as a collection of suburban bedroom communities, most of whose citizens actually worked in either New York or Philadelphia. But in the last two decades, firms have increasingly located in counties like Bergen and Hudson that are across the Hudson River from New York. These counties have become headquarters for securities, banking, health care, telecommunications, and publishing. The state's largest single occupational group — and the fastest growing — is professionals, who make up 23.3 percent of the workforce compared to 15.4 percent nationally. And these professionals, like those in California, are now strongly Democratic.
New Jersey's shift to the Democratic Party came in an initial lurch forward, followed by a stagger backward, and then a resumption of the original movement. In the eighties, New Jersey voted for Reagan and Bush for president, and for moderate Republican Tom Kean for governor. Reagan and Bush won the biggest and third-biggest counties, Bergen in the north and Middlesex in the center, by comfortable margins. Bergen's professionals and managers were moderates who supported Republicans like Kean and Bergen County congresswoman Marge Roukema. In the eighties, Bergen's moderates backed conservative Republican presidential candidates out of opposition to Democratic economics. Blue-collar Middlesex voters, many of them pro-New Deal Irish Catholics, began voting Republican as part of the racial backlash. The same thing happened in the predominately white counties that bordered Trenton and Camden in the south. Wallace had gotten 11 percent in Middlesex in 1968 and from 12 to 15 percent in the predominately white southern counties. These votes would go to Nixon in 1972 and to Reagan and Bush in the 1980s.
But in the 1989 gubernatorial election, the Democrats reemerged as a force in state politics. Democratic representative Jim Florio, an environmentalist known as the author of Superfund legislation, ran as a moderate, pro-choice, pro-gun-control candidate against Representative Jim Courter, who was identified with the religious right's views on abortion and the National Rifle Association's position on guns. Florio won decisively, 62-38 percent, with large margins in Bergen and Middlesex counties. One key factor was women's support for Florio in the wake of the Supreme Court's Webster abortion decision. Florio won 60-39 percent support among women under thirty. Florio also gathered support in both counties for his strong environmental record and for his pledge not to raise taxes and to hold down auto insurance rates.
Although Florio's victory showed the potential for a Democrat, he squandered it by raising taxes and by championing an unpopular plan to redistribute school funds from predominately white to predominately black districts. (The school plan was mandated in some form by the state court.) Florio and his advisers believed they would mobilize the old New Deal majority on his behalf by framing the tax increase as a progressive levy. They were wrong — in a big way. In 1990, the vitriolic backlash very nearly claimed the career of incumbent senator Bill Bradley simply because Bradley refused to publicly repudiate Florio. In 1992, Clinton won New Jersey, but by a smaller percentage than in neighboring states, as 19 percent of New Jerseyans backed Perot. And in 1993, Florio was defeated for reelection by moderate Republican Christine Whitman. Yet the underlying conditions for a Democratic upsurge were, if anything, stronger than before. New Jersey's recovery after the 1991 recession led to a boom in information services. Formerly blue-collar counties like Middlesex became dotted with telecommunications firms. Many of the older chemical refineries were replaced by pharmaceutical plants. The central and northeastern sections of the state became almost a continuous ideopolis.
Politically, the breakthrough came after the November 1994 election. Southern Republicans took over Congress and attempted to roll back environmental regulations — an affront to New Jerseyans, who suffer from pollution and toxic waste. The Republicans also tried to cut medicare and proposed banning abortion. At the same time, Clinton and the Democrats tailored their message so as not to scare professional and white working-class voters wary of overly ambitious social programs. As a result, New Jersey voters forgot about Florio and resumed their movement to the Democratic Party. In 1996, Clinton defeated Dole 54-36 percent, and in 2000, Gore defeated Bush by 56-40 percent, with Nader getting 3 percent. And in the 2001 gubernatorial contest, Democrat Jim McGreevey, who had been chairman of the state's DLC chapter, easily defeated a conservative Republican opponent.
In these elections, women and professionals backed the Democrats. Gore won Bergen County 55-42 percent, Mercer 61-34 percent, and Middlesex 60-36 percent. In Bergen County, Gore won 65 percent of college-educated white voters, including 77 percent of college-educated white women. In the state, he won voters with postgraduate degrees (usually a good indication of professionals) 62-34 percent. At the same time, he won 88 percent of the black vote and 58 percent of the Hispanic vote (which includes pro-Republican Cubans from Union City).
The Democrats eventually picked up many of the white working-class voters who had backed Wallace in 1968 and Nixon, Reagan, and Bush from 1972 to 1988. In the face of the recession of 1991, these voters abandoned the Republicans, but many of them voted for Perot rather than Clinton. In 1996 and 2000, they went for Clinton and Gore. For instance, in white working-class Gloucester County, outside Camden and Philadelphia, where chemical plants are still located, Wallace had gotten 15 percent in 1968. The county went overwhelmingly for Reagan and Bush in the 1980s. In 1992, Clinton got 41 percent to 36 percent for Bush and 23 percent for Perot. By 2000, however, Gore was getting 57 percent and the Republicans were still stuck under 40 percent. In New Jersey's southern counties overall in 2000, white working-class voters backed Gore 55-38 percent and white female professionals supported him 78-22 percent.
In New Jersey, Democrats have created a powerful coalition of professionals, working women, minorities, and the white working class. The Republicans' principal strength is in sparsely populated rural counties such as Somerset (where billionaire Malcolm "Steve" Forbes lives), Hunterdon, and Warren. The danger that Republicans face in New Jersey is that as moderate voters abandon their party for the Democrats, they will increasingly be dominated by the most conservative voters, who will nominate candidates who can't win a general election. That clearly happened in the 2001 Republican primary for governor when New Jersey Republicans chose Bret Schundler, an antiabortion, anti-gun-control conservative, over moderate former congressman Bob Franks, dooming the party to ignominious defeat in November.
New York has followed a pattern similar to New Jersey's. New York City, once a manufacturing center, has become an ideopolis, with its own "Silicon Alley." Its professionals, minorities, and white working class vote Democratic. Gore defeated Bush 80-15 percent in the city, which would have made it virtually impossible for Bush to win the state even if he had carried Long Island and upstate counties. But what has turned New York into a dependable Democratic state is the movement of the populous Long Island counties of Suffolk and Nassau into the Democratic column in presidential elections.
These Long Island counties were settled by the Italian middle and working class who called themselves Republicans primarily for the sake of ethnicity, not philosophy. (The Irish controlled the city's Democratic machines, so the Italians became Republicans.) During the tumultuous sixties, however, when New York was rocked by ghetto violence, racial tension, and rising crime, Long Island politics became consumed by the white backlash against New York liberal politics. As Jonathan Cohn has written, "Fear of, and hostility toward, New York City became the defining characteristics of Long Island politics." But as New York quieted under Republican mayor Rudolph Giuliani (who, like New York's mayor during the 1930s, fellow Italian Republican Fiorello La Guardia, was closer to the national Democratic than the Republican Party), the white backlash receded. And as national Republican politics became the preserve of conservative Southerners, Long Island voters increasingly turned toward the Democrats in national elections. Like New Jersey's white working-class voters, large numbers of these voters journeyed out of the Republican Party by way of Perot, but finally ended up with the Democrats.
Pennsylvania was a dependable New Deal state. After World War II, Democrats carried the state in presidential elections by overcoming the Republican vote in the primarily agricultural parts of the state and in the growing upscale Philadelphia suburbs. Democrats racked up big margins in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and in the steel towns around Pittsburgh. In the eighties, enough blue-collar Democrats joined traditional and suburban Republicans for Reagan and Bush to carry the state, but Democrats have won it three times since then.
What changed in the nineties, though, was the way they carried it. Democrats still won the steel counties west and south of Pittsburgh, but by lower margins. Much of the disaffection is cultural, although these voters may also have blamed free-trade Democrats for the decline in the steel industry in the late nineties. (In 2000, a pro-gun, antiabortion Republican won a congressional seat in western Pennsylvania that had long been in Democratic hands.) But Democrats have made up for these losses by winning over the Philadelphia suburbs. The Philadelphia area now shows the voting traits of an ideopolis, including 58-39 percent Democratic support in 2000 among white, college-educated, suburban women and similar levels of support among white working-class voters, particularly women. Overall, Gore carried Philadelphia and its Pennsylvania suburbs 61-36 percent. And the suburban counties in this area remain the fastest growing in the state — giving reason to believe that Democrats will be able to hold Pennsylvania over the next decade.
The Democrats won every Northeastern state from 1992 to 2000 except for New Hampshire and West Virginia, which Bush narrowly won in 2000. But Republican support in both states could prove to be fleeting. What has distinguished New Hampshire in the eighties and nineties from its neighbors was that, because it did not have an income or sales tax, it became a haven for professionals and managers who worked in Massachusetts, but wanted to avoid paying its taxes. These antitax voters joined New Hampshire's rural Republicans to keep the state on the political right. But in the nineties, New Hampshire began to move left, partially out of disillusionment with Republican economics, but also because New Hampshire was developing a high-tech corridor whose voters, like professionals elsewhere, were beginning to prefer moderate Democrats. New Hampshire voted for Clinton twice and elected and reelected a Democratic governor. Gore lost New Hampshire in 2000 by 48-47 percent because he failed to anticipate Nader's 4 percent vote. Gore didn't campaign or run ads in the state and allowed Nader and Bush to brand him as a foe of the environment. New Hampshire will continue to be more Republican than its neighbors, but a progressive centrist Democrat should be able to win the state in the future.
West Virginia has historically been one of the most Democratic states — it even went for Carter in 1980 and Dukakis in 1988. But the state, dependent on its declining coal industry, has been largely untouched by the high-tech boom of the 1990s. This, in turn, has fueled antipathy toward a Democratic Party identified not only with gun control but environmental regulation. In 2000, coal operators were able to rally many West Virginians against Gore and the Clinton administration, which they blamed for pushing environmental regulations that would potentially close mines throughout the state. The Bush administration's political strategy is to turn West Virginia into another Republican Idaho or Wyoming. The administration has already given priority to coal in its energy plan, and the EPA chief for the West Virginia region has announced his support for letting states police their own industries — a recipe for lax enforcement of clean air standards.
And yet, ultimately, the state's struggling economy could push its politics back the other way. By November 2000, unemployment was also nearing 10 percent in coal counties that Democrats had carried easily in the past. Democrats can still claim the allegiance of the United Mine Workers and the support of West Virginians who look to them as the party of social security, medicare, mine-safety legislation, and the minimum wage. Plus Democrats control every major state office, both statehouses, both Senate seats, and two of three House seats. If the downturn in West Virginia's economy continues, the state is almost sure to go back to the Democrats.
The Midwest has always been a battleground in American politics and will continue to be during the next decade. Republicans will undoubtedly retain their hold over the prairie states of Kansas, Nebraska, and North and South Dakota and over traditionally Republican Indiana. But the Democrats have established their own grip over the western Great Lakes states. The key to Democratic strength in Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin has been the revival of blue-collar support and the growth of ideopolises where older manufacturing cities used to exist. That has nowhere been more apparent than in Chicago and Illinois. It has set the pace for the emerging Democratic majority in the Midwest.
Illinois voted for the winning presidential ticket twenty-one out of twenty-four times in the last century. It also voted for the Republican candidate from 1968 through 1988. But since then, it has gone Democratic. In 2000, Gore won the state easily, 55-43 percent, with Nader garnering 2 percent. Democrats have gained ground in the ideopolis around Champaign and in Chicago's outlying "collar" counties, but where Illinois has become irretrievably Democratic is in Chicago and its immediate Cook County suburbs.
The enormity of Chicago's shift can be gauged by looking back at the 1960 election. "In Cook County, Illinois," historian Stephen Ambrose writes, "Mayor Richard Daley...turned in an overwhelming Kennedy vote." Nixon supporters charged that Daley had achieved this "overwhelming" vote through fraud. That may or may not have been true, but what is interesting is that Democrat John F. Kennedy's actual margin in Cook County was only 56-43 percent. It was probably closer to 65-35 percent in the city. By contrast, Al Gore defeated George Bush in Cook County in 2000 by 69-29 percent, and Gore won Chicago by an incredible 80-17 percent. With Cook County tallying about 40 percent of the votes in the state, Bush would have had to win 65 percent outside of Cook County to carry Illinois. That's an insuperable obstacle in a state that, even outside of Chicago and Cook County, is beginning to trend Democratic.
Chicago's movement to an 80 percent majority in 2000 has not been inexorable. In 1972, Nixon actually won Chicago and Cook County, and Mondale won the county by only 2.6 percent in 1984. The big shift came in the 1990s, and it coincided with important changes in Chicago's economy and politics. Like Boston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, Chicago was once known for its manufacturing. It packed meat and made such things as household appliances, plastics, railroad equipment, televisions and radios, diesel engines, telephone equipment, candy, soap, and of course, steel.
But between 1970 and 1997, Chicago lost 60 percent of its manufacturing jobs. While Chicago still manufactured goods, what it made was often high-technology computer equipment such as modems or semiconductor chips. In the nineties Chicago became one of the leading areas for high technology and information technology. According to a Humphrey Institute study, the Chicago metropolitan area has the greatest number of high-technology and information-technology jobs of any metropolitan area. All in all, the metro area had twice as many professionals and technicians as production workers. These included 103,910 computer and mathematical professionals; 71,000 architects, surveyors, and engineers; 49,690 community and social service professionals; 22,450 lawyers; 204,460 teachers; and 46,900 artists, designers, media professionals, athletes, and entertainers.
The city itself was transformed. Once a larger version of Kansas City, it became a much larger version of San Francisco, with its theater and music, its restaurants, its funky lofts, its artists, and its visible gay population on the North Side. Once a city divided between white and black, Chicago became multiethnic in the nineties as its Asian and, particularly, its Hispanic populations continued to increase. The percentage of blacks in Cook County went from 25 to 26, Hispanics increased from 14 to 20, and Asians from 4 to 5. Neighborhoods, particularly on the North Side, that used to be demarcated by ethnic loyalty now became integrated.
This shift toward a postindustrial metropolis was accompanied by a dramatic change in the city's politics. Richard J. Daley governed the city from 1955 to 1976 through a New Deal coalition that combined the city's unions, ethnic groups, and blacks with its leading business interests. By the time he died, the Democratic machine was already coming apart — a victim of racial division and also of Chicago's declining industrial base. By the early eighties, Chicago looked as if it were going to become a racial Beirut. In 1983, black Democrat Harold Washington won the Democratic nomination over a divided white field. Any Democrat should have had an easy time against an unknown Republican, but Chicago's white working-class voters flocked to Bernard Epton. The low point of the campaign came on Palm Sunday when Washington and former vice president Walter Mondale were heckled by an angry crowd during a visit to a Polish-American church on the city's northwest side. "Die nigger die" was inscribed on the church door. Washington won with only 51 percent of the vote, and only 19 percent of the white vote, primarily from well-to-do lakefront wards. Washington's first term saw pitched battles between white and black Democrats and the defection of prominent white Democrats to the Republican Party. In the 1984 presidential election, many of Chicago's white ethnic voters also supported Reagan against Mondale.
But Washington died suddenly after being reelected in 1987. In a special 1989 election to succeed him, Richard M. Daley, the son of the former mayor, won the nomination over a divided black field. Daley sought to heal the political wounds, but also to redirect the city's Democratic politics toward a new postindustrial, multiethnic Chicago. His election mollified many of Chicago's white ethnic community, but Daley also made a black woman the city spokeswoman and appointed Hispanics to be the police chief and fire chief. He instituted an affirmative action policy. And he did what would have been inconceivable to his father — in June 1989, he led the Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade through Chicago's North Side. More than anything, that gesture — and Daley's subsequent overtures to gay Chicago — indicated that he knew he was dealing with an entirely different Chicago from that which his father had governed. Aided by the city's boom during the nineties, Daley would not only bring Chicago together, but he would also erase the political division between Chicago and its suburbs. Chicago suburbanites, like New York City suburbanites, would no longer define themselves against Chicago, but see themselves as part of the city. That was crucial to the change in the voting pattern of the Chicago suburbs.
Chicago and its suburbs began to move Democratic in 1988, but the most dramatic change came in the 1990s. In the 1992, 1996, and 2000 elections, the Republicans would never get more than 30 percent of the vote in Cook County, and the Democratic total would rise from 58 percent in 1992 to 69 percent in 2000. In the 1992 election, Chicago's minorities and professionals voted heavily for Clinton, but some white ethnic voters hedged their bets by backing Perot, who got 13 percent in Cook County. Like voters in Long Island and southern New Jersey, these white Democrats were still leery of the national party, but in the face of a recession, they were no longer willing to vote Republican. In 1996 and 2000, these voters would return to the Democratic fold. Chicago's Polish voters, for instance, had backed Reagan both because they identified the Republicans with support for Poland in the Cold War and because they identified the Democrats with Chicago's insurgent blacks. By 1996, the Cold War was over, and Daley had largely healed the racial divisions in the city. As a result, many of these voters began to vote Democratic again. Says Chicago political consultant Don Rose, "With the Cold War's end and more of a cessation of racial hostilities, they began to vote their pocketbook and their issues."
Chicago voting patterns were similar to those in other advanced ideopolises. There was not a dramatic difference between professional and working-class whites within the city. Working-class whites backed Gore 78-11 percent; and college-educated white voters (which includes many managers and business owners) backed him 69-20 percent. Overall, white men in the city supported Gore 67-32 percent and white women 78-10 percent. In the past, the Cook County suburbs had been Republican in contradistinction to the city, but during the nineties, the suburbs became Democratic and backed Gore 56-41 percent in the 2000 election.
Chicago's political shift has spilled over to the "collar counties" around Cook County that have also taken part in the transformation of Chicago's economy. In the past, these counties voted like California's Orange County. Indeed, they still send Republican Phil Crane, one of the most right-wing members of the House, to Congress. But they have begun moving toward the Democrats over the last decade. Lake County backed Bush against Dukakis in 1988 by 64-36 percent; in 2000, it supported his son by just 50-48 percent, with 2 percent going to Nader. Will County backed Bush senior in 1988 by 59-40 percent. In 2000, it backed his son 50-47 percent with 2 percent to Nader. Both counties have become toss-ups and will probably become Democratic by the decade's end. The ideopolis in the Champaign-Urbana area has gone Democratic. In 1988, Bush won Champaign County 52-47 percent; in 2000, Gore won it 48-47 percent, with 5 percent going to Nader.
Across the entire state, the Democrats' gains in Illinois are almost exclusively in the state's ideopolises. In 1988, these counties gave Bush and Dukakis each just under 50 percent, but in 2000, Gore won them collectively 59-39 percent. By contrast, Democrats lost the nonideopolis counties by 6.7 percent in 1988 and by 6.3 percent in 2000. Fortunately for the Democrats, the state's growth has been concentrated in the ideopolis counties. The greatest increases in population during the 1990s came (in this order) in the four ideopolis counties of Cook, Du Page, Lake, and Will. If this continues, the Democrats' hold over bellwether Illinois looks secure for the early twenty-first century.
Minnesota and Wisconsin have voted in a similar manner to Washington and Oregon, the other states that form "greater New England." After a brief Republican interregnum in the early eighties (Minnesota supported Democrats for president, but at one point had two Republican senators and a Republican governor), both states have become dependably Democratic. The Democratic coalition has changed, however, from the New Deal days. Once dominated by blue-collar workers and small farmers, it now includes a large contingent of professionals. In Wisconsin, Democrats are strongest in Milwaukee and in Dane County, which houses the capitol and the University of Wisconsin and has become strongly Democrat in the last four decades, going 61-33 percent for Gore in 2000, with 6 percent for Nader. Dane is also the fastest-growing county in the state and together with Milwaukee accounts for about 26 percent of the voting electorate.
Minnesota is dominated by the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, which makes up 59 percent of the state vote. It is the home of the University of Minnesota and was the birthplace of Control Data, Honeywell, 3M, and other innovative high-tech companies. The city itself has almost always been Democratic, but in the last decades, the formerly Republican western suburbs in Hennepin County, the largest county in Minnesota, with the largest growth, have trended Democratic. In 2000, Gore won the county 54-39 percent with Nader getting over 6 percent. Along with strongly Democratic Ramsey County (57-36 for Gore, with 6 percent for Nader) this gives the Democrats overwhelming dominance of over one-third of Minnesota's vote.
Like Washington and Oregon, Minnesota and Wisconsin also have a history of supporting political reform and third-party efforts — from the farmer-labor parties of the 1920s to John Anderson, Perot, Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura, and Nader. Gore should have won easily in 2000, but barely won both states because the campaign ignored them and allowed Nader to flourish. Nader got 5 percent in Minnesota and 4 percent in Wisconsin. Many of the states' independent-minded voters supported Nader out of a commitment to political reform and good government and in opposition to the Clinton administration's scandals. In Minnesota, Gore did worse compared to Clinton in 1996 in exactly those counties that had voted for Ventura in 1998. Democratic Senate candidates — Herb Kohl in Wisconsin and Mark Dayton in Minnesota — ran far ahead of Gore. A Democrat untainted by scandal should be able to capture these states easily in the next decade.
Democrats continue to have a following among Iowa's farmers, who suffered under Republican policies in the 1980s. But more important, Democrats are stronge st in the three counties that registered the largest increases in population — Des Moines's Polk County, Cedar Rapids's Linn County, and Iowa City's Johnson County. These counties, which are the sites of the state's major universities, have also moved the farthest toward a postindustrial economy. Gore failed to win decisively in Iowa, as in Minnesota and Wisconsin, because of Nader's vote and because of the shadow of Clinton's scandals. If Nader's vote is factored in, the total Democratic-leaning vote was 51 percent, more than Clinton got in 1996.
Republicans carried Michigan from 1972 to 1988 through a coalition of traditional Republicans in western and central Michigan and white working-class voters disgruntled about black Democrats and stagflation. But the Democrats revived in the late eighties and have now won the state three times in a row. One key to the Democratic revival was the return to the fold of white working-class counties like Macomb and Monroe around Detroit, Flint, and Toledo. Monroe, just north of Toledo, whose biggest single employer is a Ford auto parts factory, voted for George Bush in 1988 by 54-45 percent, grudgingly favored Clinton in 1992 by 42-34 percent (with Perot getting 23 percent), but then gave Clinton 50 percent in 1996 and Gore 51 percent in 2000. The Democrats' success in these counties signaled the diminution of race as a divisive factor and the reidentification of the Democrats as the party of prosperity.
But the other key to the Democratic revival was the growth of Michigan's postindustrial areas around Detroit-Ann Arbor, Lansing, and Kalamazoo in the 1990s. These areas have all become increasingly Democratic, going from 51-48 Republican support overall in 1988 to a 57-41 Democratic advantage in 2000, a swing of 19 percent. For instance, upscale and predominately white Oakland County outside of Detroit is the home of the high-tech side of the auto industry, including Chrysler's research and development facility, Electronic Data Systems, and Fanuc Robotics. It was overwhelmingly Republican in the 1980s (Bush won it 61-38 percent in 1988), but it turned Democratic in 1996. In 2000, Gore won it 49-48 percent, with 2 percent to Nader. Oakland County also recorded the largest population growth of any Michigan county in the 1990s.
Gore lost three Midwestern states in 2000 that Clinton had won in 1992 and 1996: Missouri, Ohio, and Kentucky. In Kentucky, Democrats still control the governor's office and one of two statehouses, but Republicans occupy both Senate seats and five of six House seats, and Gore lost decisively to Bush 57-41 percent. And while Democrats historically have had a strong working-class following in Louisville and in rural areas, many of the state's working-class voters in or around the coal and tobacco industries have abandoned the national Democrats over their environmental and public health policies. The state also lacks a postindustrial metropolis — it's thirty-ninth among states in the percentage of high-tech workers.
Missouri and Ohio, by contrast, are developing politically and economically in ways that will make it very possible for a capable Democrat to win those states. Missouri, which was under Republican rule during the 1980s, began to go Democratic in the 1990s. Democrats now control one of two Senate seats and every state office except secretary of state. The shift toward the Democrats was the result of the same factors that worked in Michigan. Many white working-class voters in the Kansas City and St. Louis areas who had backed Republicans because of race and stagflation returned to the Democrats after the recession. Jefferson County, south of St. Louis, backed Clinton in 1992 and 1996 and Gore by 50-48 percent (with Nader getting 2 percent) in 2000. And upscale voters in St. Louis's St. Louis County (which encompasses the suburbs and not the city) and in Kansas City's Clay County — both of which have become part of high-tech ideopolises — also turned Democratic in the 1990s. The Democrats had lost St. Louis County, the home of aerospace and biotechnology firms, 55-45 percent in 1988; in 2000, they won it 51-46 percent.
Gore's defeat in Missouri — at the same time Democratic candidates for Senate and governor were winning — may have been due to several special circumstances of his candidacy. He did much worse than Clinton or other Missouri Democrats among white working-class voters in rural areas and small towns. In the north and southeast parts of the state outside of the St. Louis metro area, Clinton had won white working-class voters 50-38 percent in 1996, but Gore lost them 60-38 percent, a 34-point swing. The late Mel Carnahan, running for Senate against Republican John Ashcroft, ran 11 percent better than Gore in the north and southeast parts of the state.
Gore may have been hurt, ironically, by the prosperity of the Clinton years. According to St. Louis University political scientist and pollster Ken Warren, working-class voters, who had focused on jobs and the economy in the two earlier elections, focused in 2000 on "luxury" issues such as personal morality, abortion, and guns, on which they favored the Republicans. Exit polls also suggested that Missouri voters, mindful of Clinton administration scandals, were worried about whether they could trust Gore.
According to Warren, Gore suffered as well from being unable to communicate with rural voters in Missouri. While they had seen Clinton as a neighbor from Arkansas who, like them, had been born to humble circumstances, they saw Gore as a "Northeastern stuffed shirt." Says Warren, "Rural people tend to have an inferiority complex. They are intimidated by city people. Gore came across as a snob and a Northeast, Washington bureaucrat. Clinton never came across that way. And Bush came across as folksy. You have no idea how rural people hate that Northeast, Washington image." The same problems seem to have affected Gore in other Midwestern states and in Southern states such as Arkansas, Louisiana, and Tennessee, where white working-class voters are reluctant to support Democrats with whom they feel little cultural affinity.
In Ohio, Republicans control the governorship and both Senate seats. Its southern tier, including Cincinnati, is traditionally Republican, and Democrats have proven unable to field candidates with broad appeal. But Ohio's unionized industrial working class — after flirting with Republicans in the eighties — returned to the fold in 1988; and Democrats have fared increasingly well in the state's two postindustrial areas, Cleveland and Columbus's Franklin County, the site of Ohio State University and the state capitol. Democrats lost Franklin County in 1988 by 60-39 percent, but Gore won it 49-48 percent in 2000, and Nader got 3 percent. Even though the Gore campaign withdrew from Ohio almost a month before the campaign was over, Gore only lost the state 50-46 percent. With Nader's 3 percent, that amounts to a 49 percent vote for Democratic politics.
Gore suffered in Ohio from the same disabilities that sank him in Missouri: rural and small-town voters' concerns about guns, abortion, and the Clinton scandals, and Gore's difficulty in communicating with them. According to exit polls, 61 percent of Ohioans had an unfavorable view of Clinton as a person; of those, 70 percent voted for Bush and only 26 percent for Gore. As in Missouri, a Democrat who evoked a reasonable level of trust could have won Ohio in 2000 and could win it in future elections.
The Republicans have been winning most of the South in recent elections, but the region is by no means as solid for Republicans as it was for the Democrats from 1876 to 1960. A few states, such as Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina, would be very unlikely to vote for a national Democrat. But one very important state, Florida, has been turning Democratic, and several other states, including North Carolina and Virginia, could go Democratic before the decade is over. These states could veer Democratic because of the growth of a postindustrial economy in their key metropolitan areas.
Of all the Southern states, the one most clearly moving toward the Democrats is Florida. Clinton won Florida in 1996, and Gore lost it only because of ballot irregularities in Palm Beach and Duval counties. In the same election, Democratic Senate candidate Bill Nelson easily defeated Republican congressman Bill McCollum. And Florida should get easier not harder for the Democrats in the future. Since 1988, Democratic strength has dramatically increased in all five counties of the state that added the most people during the last decade: Fort Lauderdale's Broward County, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Orlando's Orange County, and Tampa's Hillsborough County.
In Palm Beach County, for instance, Bush defeated Dukakis in 1988 by 55-44 percent, but Gore won it in a landslide 62-35 percent, with 1 percent to Nader, a swing of 38 percent toward the Democrats. Similarly, Bush overwhelmingly defeated Dukakis in Orange County, 68-31 percent, but Gore won it 50-48 percent with 1 percent to Nader, a pro-Democratic swing of 39 percent. Even in Hillsborough County, where the Democrats slid slightly backward in 2000 (although Senate Democratic candidate Nelson easily won the county against Republican McCollum), there was still a swing of 17 percent toward the Democrats over that period.
Behind this dramatic shift were the same factors that made states in the West or Northeast more Democratic. Florida has one of the most advanced economies in the South, and its largest metropolitan areas have moved toward becoming postindustrial and high-tech. In Palm Beach County, Pratt and Whitney makes jet engines; Motorola, pagers; and Siemens, communications equipment. Miami-Dade, the home of the University of Miami, is a major center for health care, fashion, and entertainment. Fort Lauderdale's Broward County has more workers employed in education than in direct goods production. Orange County is, of course, a major entertainment center with Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, but it also a home for computer services. In these areas, college-educated women and white working-class voters both tend to vote Democratic as they do in the more advanced ideopolises. For example, white working-class voters in the Miami area supported Gore 51-47 percent, while college-educated white women backed him 68-30 percent.
During the 1990s, Democrats have also benefited from the growth of Florida's minority population, which accounted for about 2 million of the 3 million additional residents of the state. The Hispanic population went from 12 to 17 percent, African-Americans from 13 to 15 percent, and Asians from 1 to 2 percent of the state. Most of the new Hispanics were from Central America and Puerto Rico and, unlike Cubans, have tended to vote Democratic. The influx of Puerto Rican voters into Orange County — Hispanics went from 10 to 19 percent of the county's population during the decade — was clearly a factor in that county's shift toward the Democrats.
The Republicans remain strong in rural Florida — exactly where the Democrats used to get their votes. Escambia County, in the panhandle near the Alabama border, and Nassau County, near the Georgia border, formerly went heavily for Democrats. In 1960 these counties went for Kennedy by almost two to one even though Nixon won Florida. But these voters, angered by national Democratic support for civil rights, would support Goldwater in 1964 and Wallace in 1968. Since then, both counties have become increasingly Republican. In 2000, Bush carried Escambia 63-35 percent and Nassau 69-29 percent. Needless to say, however, the votes in these small, rural counties are eclipsed by those in Orange or Palm Beach. In Florida, growth is very definitely on the side of the Democrats.
North Carolina and Virginia have voted Republican in presidential elections since 1980 but, because of the influx of minorities and the growth of postindustrial metropolises, could turn Democratic in the next decade. Three decades ago, North Carolina led the nation in low-wage manufacturing. Since then, its tobacco and textile industries have shrunk, but it has become a national leader in banking, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, environmental services, and in computer research and development. These new industries are centered in Charlotte's Mecklenburg County and in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Research Triangle, the centers of population growth in North Carolina during the 1990s. Once primarily a small-town rural state, North Carolina is increasingly organized around these new postindustrial areas.
Like other Southern states, North Carolina was traditionally Democratic, although there were always Republicans in the Appalachian regions to the west. But in the sixties, many of the state's white working-class voters abandoned the Democrats over the national party's support for civil rights and began to vote Republican, helping to elect conservative Republican Jesse Helms to the Senate in 1972. But in contrast to neighboring South Carolina, where the Democrats became identified with blacks and with political corruption, North Carolina whites continued to back moderate Democrats like Jim Hunt, who was elected governor in 1976, and after serving for two terms, was elected for another two terms in 1992. Since Hunt's election, Democrats in North Carolina have increasingly relied not only on votes from minorities but also from the professionals, women, and other relatively liberal whites in the state's growing postindustrial areas. Since 1988, all these areas have become more Democratic. Dukakis lost Mecklenburg County 59-40 percent in 1988, but Gore lost it only 51-48 in 2000, even though he did not campaign in the state. The Democrats' edge in Durham County increased from 54-45 percent to 63-35 percent over the same period. In the Raleigh metro area, Gore won with 50 percent, including 55-42 percent among college-educated white women voters.
State Democratic candidates have done even better in these high-tech areas. North Carolina democratic senator John Edwards, who defeated incumbent Lauch Faircloth in 1998, won Raleigh's Wake County 51-48 percent. In 2000, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Easley won it 55-43 percent. Edwards and Easley also won Charlotte's Mecklenburg County. Significantly, Edwards did not repudiate the national party, but ran in 1998 on national Democratic issues such as the patients' bill of rights. It's not hard to envision a Democrat who could establish a rapport with the state's voters winning North Carolina's electors.
Like North Carolina, Virginia has gone Republican in presidential elections, but has alternated between Democrats and Republicans in Senate and gubernatorial elections. Who wins these latter elections has depended on who carried the increasingly vote-rich northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. In the late seventies, alienated by liberal Democratic spending and criticisms of the military, these suburban voters swung the state Republican. In the eighties, alienated by the rise of the religious right, which was headquartered in Falwell's Lynchburg and Robertson's Chesapeake, they backed Chuck Robb for governor and the Senate and Doug Wilder and Gerald Baliles for governor. In the nineties, wooed by "compassionate conservatism" and tax cuts, they elected George Allen to the governorship and Senate and James Gilmore as governor.
But Virginia may be swinging back to the Democrats. In the 2001 state elections, Democrats won two out of three of the major offices. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Warner carried northern Virginia's Fairfax County, also the state's largest, 54-45 percent. And in spite of Democratic indifference to Virginia in presidential elections, a clear trend toward the Democrats exists in these same high-tech suburbs, which contain the second-greatest concentration of computer firms in the country. Fairfax has gone from a 61-38 percent Republican margin in 1988 to a 49-47 percent Bush margin in 2000, with 3 percent to Nader. Loudon County went from a 66-33 Republican margin to a 56-41 percent Republican advantage. Arlington went from a 53-45 Democratic edge to a 60-34 percent Democratic advantage, with 5 percent to Nader, over the same period. If these suburban voters keep increasing their proportion of the Virginia vote, and if they continue to trend Democratic, they could very well tilt Virginia back to the Democrats, even in presidential elections. Certainly, Democrat Mark Warner's victory suggests this is a real possibility.
Republicans are strongest in some of those states, such as Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina, with the largest percentage of black voters. In these states, race is not just one political issue, but the most important issue, by far. Mississippi and South Carolina have recently had raging controversies over whether to fly a Confederate flag, a symbol of Southern racism, over their state capitols. In South Carolina, a Republican governor lost his bid for reelection in 1998 partly because he favored taking down the flag. "The intensity of the debate over the flag reveals that the economic issues that have dominated South Carolina's political discourse in recent years have yet to displace racial concerns at the core of South Carolina's political culture," wrote Glen T. Broach and Lee Bandy in a perceptive study of the state's politics. In April 2001, Mississippi voted by two to one to retain the flag.
In these states, there remains a close correlation, dating back to the Wallace era, between the Republican vote and white racial concerns. Mississippi's DeSoto County, which voted six to one for the flag, went for Wallace by three to one in 1968 and for George W. Bush by a similar margin in 2000, giving him 71 percent of the vote. All the other Mississippi counties where Bush's vote exceeded 70 percent were also lopsided for Wallace in 1968.
The strongest Republican states are also those that have lagged behind Northern and Western states in developing a postindustrial economy. Mississippi's principal innovation over the last two decades has been riverboat gambling. Oklahoma is still dependent on a declining oil industry. The standard of living in these states is well below the national average. Taking 100 as the national norm in per capita income, Oklahoma's fell from 89 in 1978 to 80.3 in 1997. Mississippi's per capita income is at 71.6 and Alabama's at 81.7. Democrats can still win elections in these states, but generally only if they repudiate the national party and tailor their message to the state's voters. Democratic gubernatorial candidates in Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina have won elections this way, but national Democrats face an uphill battle.
In two of the states with lagging development, Louisiana and Arkansas, Democrats still have a good chance of winning the state's presidential electors. Democrats won both states in 1992 and 1996. Clinton's favorite-son status was certainly a factor in Arkansas, but by the same token Clinton's popularity in that state over two decades showed that its white voters, who make up 87 percent of the voting electorate, will support a progressive centrist Democrat. White workers in Arkansas and Louisiana — and particularly in Cajun country — still respond to New Deal Democratic appeals. But in 2000, Gore failed to win these voters. Clinton had won Jefferson Davis parish in Cajun country 53-33 percent in 1996. Even Dukakis won it in 1988. But Gore lost it to Bush 55-41 percent. Just as in southeast Missouri, these voters were probably heavily motivated by cultural considerations in their 2000 vote choice; they felt more comfortable with Bush, a Texas oilman, than with Gore. With a different set of candidates, the result could have been quite different.
Over the next decade, a Democratic presidential candidate could also win the electoral votes of Georgia, Tennessee, and yes, even Texas. In all three of these states, the same conditions obtain, though to a lesser degree, that might make it possible for the Democrats to win North Carolina and Virginia. All three have large minority populations that, in the case of Georgia and Texas, are getting larger at a rapid clip and that vote primarily Democratic. In Georgia, the Hispanic population increased from 2 to 5 percent and blacks from 27 to 29 percent during the 1990s. (The increase in black population was primarily a product of a reverse migration back from the North to the South.) In Texas, the Hispanic population increased from 26 to 32 percent in the 1990s, while the black population remained at 12 percent.
Each of these states also has postindustrial areas where the Democrats are doing well. Dukakis lost Nashville's Davidson County by 5 points in 1988, but Gore won it by 17 percent in 2000. In Texas, Clinton won Austin's Travis County in 1996 by 52-40 percent, and the county elects a Democratic congressman. But the other postindustrial areas in these states are not culturally and politically integrated. They and their white voters begin from an overwhelmingly Republican base, so even though the Democrats have been doing better in most of them, Republicans generally remain far ahead.
Texas's ideopolises in the Dallas and Houston metro areas and Georgia's Atlanta metro area are constructed around the model of St. Louis. Most high-tech economic development has taken place outside the core urbanized area, and the residents of many primarily white suburbs that surround the minority-dominated central area define themselves politically and economically against it. The professionals in these suburbs are likely to identify with managers and to vote Republican rather than Democratic. Even white college-educated women in these suburbs, a strong Democratic group in most ideopolises, tend to vote Republican. In the primarily white suburbs that form the outer ring of the Atlanta metro area, college-educated white women were only marginally less Republican than their male counterparts, preferring the Republican Bush 70-26 percent, while in the racially integrated suburbs immediately adjoining Atlanta, college-educated white women voted Democratic 59-39 percent.
In all three of these states, white working-class voters began moving away from the Democrats in the sixties, and while they have fitfully come back when Republicans appear to be responsible for a recession, many of them abandoned the Democrats in 2000 — probably for the same reasons that rural Democrats in Missouri or Cajun Louisiana did. In Georgia, Gore got only 23 percent of the white working-class statewide vote. In Tennessee he did better with 34 percent, but a Democrat would probably need close to 40 percent to carry the state.
Still, the Democrats have a chance in all three of these states if the minority vote continues to grow, if white voters eventually experience the same kind of cultural change that residents of other ideopolises have, and if white working-class voters become convinced (as they do periodically) that their jobs, social benefits, and general quality of life depend on having Democrats in office.
A warning: This survey is not intended to show that a Democratic majority is inevitable. What it shows is that over the next decade, the Democrats will enter elections at an advantage over the Republicans in securing a majority. Whether Democrats actually succeed will depend, in any given race, on the quality of the candidates they nominate and on the ability of candidates and their strategists to weld what is merely a potential majority into a real one. Whether they can do that will depend upon the politics of the new majority.
Copyright © 2002 by John Judis and Ruy Teixeira
|Introduction: The Politics of Postindustrial America||1|
|1||The Rise and Fall of the Conservative Republican Majority||11|
|2||George McGovern's Revenge: Who's in the Emerging Democratic Majority||37|
|3||The Geography of the New Majority||69|
|4||The Politics of the Emerging Democratic Majority||117|
|5||The Tenuous Case for a Republican Majority||145|
|Conclusion: The Progressive Center||163|
|Afterword: "The Enemy is Coming"||179|