Thursday, December 03, 2009

From the "Since you asked…" file.

John Aravosis inquires…
The conventional wisdom in Washington is that the base will always be with you at election time because they have nowhere else to go. Is that true?
Since you asked, not exactly. The base will always be with you at general election time because, by definition, the base is made up of the voters who are always with you at election time, or at least at general election time. It's not that they have no where else to go, it's that they don't even consider going somewhere else. If they need some kind of external motivation or persuasion, they may be critical voters, because the base is rarely sufficient for victory, but they aren't your base. In essence, the Democratic base is made up of the folks we call "Yellow Dogs," folks like me who, come general election time are going to vote and we're going to vote for the "D" next to the name, not the name at all.

Primaries are more problematic. Being on the leftish side of the Democratic base, over the years I've supported the primary candidate who's likewise somewhat to the left of the base. That means I've been on the losing end of more than a few primary elections since I first got "Clean for Gene" way back when. Come November, though, I've always come home because at the end of the day a Democrat who is somewhat more centrist than I am is still superior to any Republican. That's particularly true in legislative races where questions like leadership votes and the control of committee chairs matter more than the particular positions an individual candidate might take.

It's not likely a concern I'll ever have living in WA-7, where the Democratic base actually is sufficient for a win and is at least as leftish as I (as a local legislative chair once said, Jesus Christ his own self could announce his candidacy as a Republican from atop Queen Anne Hill and he'd end up 35% of the November vote), but if I was faced with a choice between the bluest of the Blue Dogs and the most liberal Rockefeller Republican, the D would still get my vote every time. That's base.

To coin a phrase, when you're running on a partisan line, all your base belongs to you.

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