There’s a piece in the Washington Times today in which southern Democratic state chairman complain that Howard Dean simply can’t win the South. Several of these chairmen then go on to suggest that Democrats simply ignore the South in their pursuit of the presidency.
They’re echoing a Thomas Schaller’s Post piece in the Washington Post magazine urging exactly that. Shaller points out that Republicans McKinley, Teddy R., Harding and Coolidge all won with no southern support, and then he adds: “If Democrats solve their solvable Ohio problem, they can win the presidency without carrying any states south of Maryland and east of the Mississippi River.”
I can assure the Democrats that my fellow southerners will not be the least put out if Dean and Co. decline our hospitality for the duration. They don’t have much we care to hear, anyway.
But I can also add that, as a former GOP flak, nothing would make Republicans happier than for the Dems to abandon the South and take the fight entirely to the swing Great Lakes states. Because every state they write off is another state whose GOP money and talent can be sent to the battlefield states. Abandoning the South would also allow President Bush to craft his message to the swing state audience. No need to talk partial-birth abortion or judicial nominees if the conservative South isn’t even in play.
Brilliant thinkers, these Democrats. How the heck did they ever win the White House at all?