Nebraska Democrats' 6% Swing in 2006by Kyle Michaelis
It probably doesn't surprise that Nebraska's third from the bottom, with a 23% Republican advantage. What may surprise, however, is that this performance still reflects one of the eight largest gains for Democrats in the country (states in bold).
* MA: Dems 42%--19%. Shift: EvenClearly, the Democratic Party has a very serious problem in voter registration in this state (gee, ya' think?). In fact, in terms of registration alone, the numbers actually got worse between the 2004 and 2006 elections.
* NY: Dems 47%--25% Reps. Shift: Dems +6
* RI: Dems 38%--18% Reps. Shift: Reps +3
* MD: Dems 50%--31% Reps. Shift: Dems +10
* WV: Dems 51%--32% Reps. Shift: Dems +1
* HI: Dems 40%--23% Reps. Shift: Dems +1
* IL: Dems 46%--31% Reps. Shift: Dems +10
* NJ: Dems 41%--28% Reps. Shift: Dems +5
* CT: Dems 38%--26% Reps. Shift: Dems +5
* WA: Dems 39%--29% Reps. Shift: Dems +6
* NM: Dems 41%--32% Reps. Shift: Dems +2
* ME: Dems 37%--29% Reps. Shift: Dems +7
* MI: Dems 40%--33% Reps. Shift: Dems +2
* CA: Dems 41%--35% Reps. Shift: Even
* WI: Dems 39%--34% Reps. Shift: Dems +8
* PA: Dems 43%--38% Reps. Shift: Dems +3
* MN: Dems 40%--36% Reps. Shift: Dems +1
* OH: Dems 40%--37% Reps. Shift: Dems +8
* VT: Dems 29%--27% Reps. Shift: Reps +2
* MO: Reps 39%--37% Dems. Shift: Reps +1
* FL: Reps 39%--36% Dems. Shift: Dems +1
* VA: Reps 39%--36% Dems. Shift: Dems +1
* TN: Reps 38%--34% Dems. Shift: Dems +4
* MT: Reps 39%--32% Dems. Shift: Even
* NV: Reps 40%--33% Dems. Shift: Reps +3
* AZ: Reps 41%--32% Dems. Shift: Dems +5
* ND: Reps 38%--29% Dems. Shift: Dems +5
* TX: Reps 41%--31% Dems. Shift: Dems +1
* NE: Reps 50%--27% Dems. Shift: Dems +6
* WY: Reps 56%--27% Dems. Shift: Reps +1
* UT: Reps 56%--20% Dems. Shift: Dems +3
Some blue states got a lot bluer: NY, MD, IL and CT in particular. New York is now just as bad for Republicans as Nebraska is for Democrats. Democrats made positive gains in North Dakota, Nebraska, and Tennessee, but those are all long-term projects....
But, even though there may not yet be reason to celebrate, there's certainly reason to hope. Nebraska Democrats were motivated in 2006, at least more so than in recent elections (taking the exit polls for what they're worth). With turn-out having traditionally been their biggest problem, it seems the Nebraska Democratic Party might finally be doing some of the little things right, getting back to basics and hopefully having established a core infrastructure that will make future gains, future success, and future victories possible.
We've made gains. We've had a little success. But, no doubt about it, there's a long ways to go.
Remember, though, that an estimated 42% of Republicans voted for Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson this year. It's not realistic to expect Nebraska Democrats to suddenly be even with their Republican counterparts, whom they lagged by 23% in a good year with a lot of resources on the ground. Still, it wouldn't take many gains like the 6% we've seen over just two years above - perhaps even within the next decade - to be on par with the margins in Montana or North Dakota, where Republicans held advantages of 7 and 11%, respectively.
If the Nebraska Democratic Party can even get to that point - which seems entirely reasonable - it's going to be a new state. Then, we can look for more than just gains and progress, and we can start talking about actual victory. Not in a race here and there but for the hearts and minds of Nebraska voters.
Can Nebraska Democrats expect an additional 8% swing in 2008? Alas, that's probably way too much to ask. But, there's momentum here - something on which they can build. Now, it's just a matter of getting it done.