Body Politic, You Are Always On My Mind

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The Big Picture –
By Glynn Wilson

Facebook always asks “what’s on your mind” in the Status Update box. But rather than answering that question on Facebook, I will reveal my thoughts for today here and then put the link on Facebook for people to read. That’s the way I roll.

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Like Willie Nelson sang, the “body politic” is always on my mind.

The status of public opinion in America is on my mind today in part due to a column we published this week on the tectonic demographic shift of the American electorate towards progressivism.

We’re still having a pretty interesting discussion in the comments on that post, which you can still take part in if you want.

But some new data has come to light today in a Washington Post column by public opinion analyst John Sides.

He and two other political scientists created an overly simplistic model in April 2012 and predicted Obama would win reelection in November. Most national pundits had the election of 2012 close. Not just close, but “very close,” in fact.

But I analyzed all the public opinion polling data and the make up of the Electoral College and predicted that it would not even be close. I predicted he would win in a landslide.

Sides model got it right, but my analysis was more right. My stories from that time made it around the country due to the social network phenomenon at that time. In part as a result, this news Website — after undergoing a redesign as well — hit a record 3.2 million hits in one month. That is an all time high in readership since I started this experiment in 2005.

Now, while admitting that it is way too early to predict, Sides is countering the national punditry who say the Democrats have a demographic lock on the White House in 2016. He’s saying the Republicans have a 64 percent chance to re-capture the White House — based on the current state of the small number of variables plugged into his model.

Everybody else is saying the Republicans have no chance, except perhaps for Rush Limbaugh, Fox News and Karl Rove.

What do I say? It depends on who both parties pick in the primaries. You can’t run the numbers until you know that. As always, it depends too on who throws the best party in the summer of 2016 when the political parties get together for their conventions. There is one variable I have used to predict elections for many years.

“Whichever party throws the best party wins.”

While it is true that the conventions have become much less relevant in American politics than they were in the 19th and early 20th centuries, they still do matter on the edges of public perception. If you took the time to watch some of the television coverage of the Democratic and Republican conventions in the summer of 2012, there is no doubt the Democrats won hands down.

Will anyone ever forget the Republican meltdowns? Remember Clint Eastwood rambling incoherently at a chair?

The Democrats put on a bona fide Hollywood show. It mattered to mainstream American workers and independents — who now determine the outcome of most elections — that one party appeared off the deep end, while the other appeared to have it together.

So for 2016, the Democrats should not be complacent thinking they have a lock on the White House. That could prove disastrous.

There is a growing demographic advantage based on the age variable in public opinion research. The old, die hard, racist conservatives are dying off, many of them having lived way too long anyway due to what they perceive as “the greatest health care system in the world.”

It’s not. But the heavy duty pharmaceuticals have kept them alive far longer than would have been the case in the generation prior to World War II. Maybe all those drugs are keeping them alive for too long. Sometimes it would just be better for everybody if they would just lay down and die.

This is the generation that is also keeping the newspapers afloat, since many of them would rather keep reading the news printed with ink on paper than catch up with the rest of the world by using the Internet and reading on the Web Press. I predicted in the year 2000 that this would be over by the end of 2019. I think my projection is still right on target.

Around the same time, I learned later in 2008, my native state of Alabama might have a chance to begin joining the rest of the country in the progressive demographic shift by the year 2018 or 2020. Artur Davis didn’t listen to me, and look what happened to his political career? Kaput.

Fighting the Final Battles of the Civil War

Now I’ve got a lot of fiends in Alabama working their fingers off on Facebook thinking they are going to change Alabama in the gubernatorial election of 2014. I have nothing but respect and love for people who are willing to work hard to try to change this place, and I hate to be the one to break it to them. But they are most likely going to be disappointed. I hope it doesn’t make them give up.

Here’s the thing. It is probably too late to change anything in the election of 2014. Candidate qualifying for the two major primaries ends February 7. If you want to make a difference in Alabama by running for office, you have two weeks to make up your mind.

If someone wants to be the one to take on Mr. Montgomery Burns, I mean Dr. Robert Bentley, for governor, where are you? If you are not in the race already getting covered in the news media with enough money to buy television advertising time, you probably don’t have a chance anyway.

If you can’t raise the big bucks you should at least try some blog advertising, since it might get you some Web coverage and Facebook time to get out to the more influential opinion leaders who do get their news on the Web and connect with social networking. If enough people share that on Facebook and Twitter with their friends and family, you might gain some name recognition and give yourself a chance.

The party primaries will be held June 3 for the November general election. Technically a Democrat might have a chance in the general election and an independent could still get in a race. But due to contingencies of the 1901 Alabama Constitution and the two major party rules, chances are slim that an independent could even get enough signatures or steam to make it onto the ballot for the general election November 4.

If you want to help Alabama move toward the progressive side of the political spectrum and beyond the right-wing tea party era, start organizing now for 2018 and 2020. You might have a chance by then.

As for me, I’m so concerned that the Democrats will screw things up nationally in 2016 that I am more worried about that election already. The biggest problem nationally is that during the Bush years, the anti-government Republicans in charge in the states redrew all the congressional district maps to ensure the election of white, conservative Republicans in the U.S. House for another couple of terms.

There is no chance to take back the House this year, and even the Senate may be at risk. We can’t really even count on keeping the White House in 2016. It will take the right combination of factors to come together for the good of the country.

Get to work.

© 2014 – 2016, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.

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