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April 25, 2005
The Coming Dean Debacle

The selection of Howard Dean as DNC party chairman has clearly become a liability for Democrats looking to recapture the center, as Donald Lambro writes in today's Washington Times. Democratic pollsters have discovered a significant 'parents gap' in last year's presidential election, as Bush topped Kerry by almost 20 points among moms and dads. Not only did these mainstream voters find more alignment with Bush, but the active sellout of the Democrats to the Hollywood entertainment elite producing ever more violent and inappropriate fare for children have turned large numbers of them away:

An analysis by a Democratic think tank argues that Democrats are suffering from a severe "parent gap" among married people with children, who say the entertainment industry is lowering the moral standards of the country.

The study, published last week by the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), the policy arm of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, admonishes Democrats to pay more attention to parental concerns about "morally corrosive forces in the culture," and warns that the party will not fare better with this pivotal voting bloc until they do.

In the 2004 election, married parents supported President Bush over Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts by nearly 20 percentage points. Mr. Bush frequently talked about the importance of faith and morals in his campaign and the role that parents played in raising their children. Mr. Kerry and his party, much of whose campaign funding and political support came from liberals in the entertainment industry, rarely touched the issue.

"Democrats will not do better with married parents until they recognize one simple truth: Parents have a beef with popular culture. As they see it, the culture is getting ever more violent, materialistic, and misogynistic, and they are losing their ability to protect their kids from morally corrosive images and messages," said the study's author, Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, co-director of the National Marriage Project of Rutgers University and a senior fellow at PPI.

Remember the moment in New York when John Kerry declared that the potty-mouthed antics of Whoopi Goldberg and her friends constituted the "heart and soul" of America? At the time, it hardly made a blip in Kerry's polling, and probably by that time most parents had already decided to support Bush instead for the reasons given. However, that moment cemented Kerry and the Democrats as fatally out of touch with mainstream Americans. Neither Democrats nor Hollywood has yet to get the message.

Howard Dean's installation as DNC chair proves that much. Dean represents the radical left of the party, wrapped up in a tie and rolled-up shirtsleeves but extremists nonetheless. Democrats wanted to harness the energy and power of the International ANSWER/MOveOn contingent by embracing them through Dean rather than pushing them towards the Greens. However, as the Democrat polling shows, all Dean does is attract more obstacles for reaching out to centrists:

In an attempt to reach out to evangelical Christians in the Republican red states, Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has been talking much more about values and "the culture," and sprinkling his attacks on Republicans with phrases from the Bible.

"We need to kick the money changers out of the temple and restore moral values to America," he said last week in Florida.

But an online survey of 11,568 Dean supporters released earlier this month by the Pew Research Center found that such religious or culturally conservative appeals may not play well with liberal Democrats.

Among the Pew findings, 38 percent of Dean supporters polled said they had no religious affiliation, compared with 11 percent of all Americans; 91 percent supported same-sex "marriage," compared with 38 percent of all Democrats; and 80 percent said they were liberals, compared with 27 percent of all Democrats.

For a man who notoriously gave up his religious affiliation over a bike path, spouting Bible verses will not likely convince any of the faithful that the Democrats have suddenly opened their arms to religious voters. Opposition of key Senate Democrats to judicial nominees with "deeply held personal beliefs" speaks much louder to churchgoing Americans than a couple of Biblical non-sequiturs from Dean. Dean's pandering on religion won't win him any support, but according to the results above, it could severely cut into his personal approval base if he does it often and publicly enough.

The Democrats have wound up with the worst of both worlds with Howard Dean. He's too radical to appeal to the voters in the center with any credibility at all, and if he gives more than a token effort to do so, he'll lose the people who put him in power at all. We tried to warn them ... but they just wouldn't listen to us.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 25, 2005 6:39 AM

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