One thing Democrats desperately want to control in any election is discussion about Race. The Democrat’s position, as should be obvious, is that the Democrats defend minorities from the rapacious intentions of Republicans, and it has worked for decades to their advantage. Unfortunately for the Democrats, modern minorities no longer simply take instruction from self-ordained “leaders”, but are more and more inclined to think for themselves. The effects of this awakening may be slow in arriving, but they are certainly on the way.
I have been following the polling data and of course voting results, but the most interesting effects I see are anecdotal. Black, for existence, are the most solid of Democrat blogs, and for the longest time would not even listen to a Republican candidate. But here in Houston they are starting to listen, and to ask questions. Yes, most of the questions are based on the assumption that Republicans have things to apologize for to Blacks and Democrats have a record of standing with them (the first is true, but less than most people think, and the second is simply a lie), but the point is, dialogue has begun. And eventually, people will think through the responses and decide which is more honest and intelligent for their issues and priorities.
It’s also worth noting, to see how leading Democrats do not want to bring up Race. Since the 2004 Election, the DNC has been very very quiet on that subject, which tells me they are hearing things they don’t want to have come up in front of a national audience. Sure, jerks like Nagin and McKinney spout off their noise, but notice they are all alone? Even Dean knows to leave that one be, and there’s a reason.
Another group to watch is Hispanics. The wild card in the whole Border Security/Immigration debate, is how legitimate Hispanic citizens in the United States see the matter. Bush claimed more of the Hispanic vote than any previous Republican, and there’s hope for more if the message is clear and mistakes are avoided.
And then there are the Asians. Quiet, keep to themselves, but they have started voting in large numbers. Originally, the Democrats thought this could be a secret weapon, but in recent years there is reason to think that suburban Asians see issues and candidates much differently than their urban counterparts. This is important, because more than any other demographic, Asians are moving from downtown to uptown, and this cannot help but be a factor in close races. I know from personal experience that more than ever before, English-speaking Asians are helping the Asian community as a whole understand the issues and how it affects them. Asians are very big on community action, which means that they are won over in groups.
What this means in specific depends on how the major parties pay attention to the issues and their debate, but it does mean that 'ownership' of a demographic is moving towards a thing of the past.