August 22, 2005

Blue Illinois vs. Red Missouri

Illinois and Missouri were at one time bellwether states. 1976 was the only time Illinois did not go with the winner of the Presidential election, for Missouri it was in 1956 in which they did not pick the winner. Time has changed, they are no longer national bellwether states Illinois turned Blue with Gore and Kerry while Missouri is trending Red with President Bush. Jon Sawyer of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes an interesting article about the two states and their politics.

Blue Illinois vs. Red Missouri:
Robert Archibald, president of the Missouri Historical Society, says the roots
of Missouri's conservative trend go deep, back to patterns of settlement the
state experienced in the decades prior to the Civil War.

St. Louis was like much of Illinois, he noted, filled with immigrants direct
from Europe. Outstate Missourians, by contrast, came mostly from the American
south. The rural settlers tended to support the Confederacy, some of them
because they believed in slavery but even more, Archibald said, because of
"their suspicion of government, particularly government as problem-solver."

In the early 20th century those same outstate communities proved fertile ground
for the emergence of modern evangelical churches, sects like the Springfield,
Mo.-based Assemblies of God that reinforced conservative social views.

"My impression is that Missouri has a religious conservative base that's
stronger, an evangelical church base that's stronger, than in Illinois," said
political scientist John Jackson, a former chancellor at Southern Illinois
University Carbondale.

"In states like Missouri it's become almost an auxiliary operation of the
Republican party," he said. "You can't tell where the evangelical churches end
and where the Republican party begins."

Yet a more pronounced religious conservatism is clearly only one factor among
many. Illinois on average is younger, more educated and more urban, for
example, with a higher percentage of African-Americans and Hispanics. Missouri
is traditionally more averse to taxes, even so-called "sin" taxes. Its
cigarette tax is one-fifth that of Illinois and its excise tax on beer
The more urban state with higher percentage for Hispanic and African Americans is turning Blue while state with a strong evangelical base is turning red. This might not be new news to many of you, but it does show the politicizing of evangelical churches in support of the Republican party versus Democratic strongholds in African community and essential of the Hispanic vote for the Democratic Party.

John Judis and Ruy Teixeira in their book, The Emerging Democratic Majority notes trends in national elections favor Democrats the future.
The Emerging Democratic Majority persuasively argues a simple thesis, but one with profound implications: Demographic groups that tend to support the ideas and candidates of the Democratic Party are growing rapidly as a percentage of the electorate. Groups that support Republican ideas and candidates are growing slowly, if at all. Not only are traditionally democratic voters such as African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and single women becoming a larger part of the voting public, but democratic-leaning white-collar professionals and the highly educated are increasing as well. At the same time, many blue-collar voters who defected to Ronald Reagan and the Republicans in the 1980's returned to the Democratic Party in the 1990's to vote for Bill Clinton.
The Republican coalitions can not hold much longer, with their evangelical base seeking to push their social agenda while only passing their big business agenda, failure on foreign policy and an unpopular President tough times are ahead for the GOP.

It is time for the vision of Democratic majorities to take place, no longer can the Democratic party wait for national trends to move our way.


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