Moser's blue Dixie

If anyone can make the case for Democrats' refocusing on the South it is Bob Moser, but the region that has really turned -- and keeps turning -- blue is the Northeast.

Published August 19, 2008 6:19PM (EDT)

New York Times

A Democratic stronghold

Bob Moser wrote a solid piece in Salon today setting out some of the arguments he makes in his new book, "Blue Dixie." (My companion, response piece is here.)

There is no reason to rehash the arguments from each article, but last Thursday when I was off-blog there was a great New York Times analysis by Raymond Fernandez that I have been looking for an excuse to discuss, and my running debate with Moser over the utility of Democrats investing anew in the South provides one. Fernandez shows just how blue Northeastern House delegations have become, and how Democrats are likely to further expand their control this fall. Along with the fantastic map shown above, Fernandez summarized the situation thus:

All told, there are roughly a dozen competitive Congressional races in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New Hampshire, nearly all of them in districts now held by Republicans, according to analysts and strategists in both parties.

Meanwhile, all but 2 of the 11 Congressional Democrats who won office in 2006 in the Northeast appear headed into the general election campaign in a strong position, the analysts said.

This is a blow to Republicans because members of Congress are considered most vulnerable after their first term and Republicans had been expected to vigorously challenge freshmen lawmakers in the Northeast.

With respect to regional investments, there are two ways of looking at this development: The first is, "Hey, this is where the Democrats can continue to consolidate power." The second is, "Hey, there's not much room for growth left for Democrats here so they ought to start looking elsewhere." I think we will very soon reach the point where we move from conclusion No. 1 to conclusion No. 2.

I'm guessing Moser would say that domination of the Northeast provides a license to start looking toward the South again, and I would counter by saying it would be better to try to replicate in the Midwest or Southwest what has happened in the Northeast.

By Thomas Schaller

Thomas F. Schaller is professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the author of "Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South." Follow him @schaller67.

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