Richie Rich and the two anti-semites

Thomas Edsall in the online New Republic focuses on the role of upscale voters in the Lamont-Liberman race, and explains why that role constitutes an ongoing problem for Democrats:

The Lieberman-Lamont primary is a study, writ small, in what has ailed the Democratic Party over the last few decades. Simply put, Democratic presidential primary electorates continue to be dominated by an upscale, socially (and culturally) liberal elite. Democrats must first win the approval of this elite before they can compete in the general election. It’s a trap that no Democrat other than Bill Clinton has found a way to escape, and Lamont’s victory shows why.

Via Steve Hayward at No Left Turns.

Michael Barone made the same point on Fox News, noting that Lieberman ran well in ethnic blue collar areas while Lamont carried the swanky precincts of Fairfield County by huge margins. According to Barone, these swanky precients have disproportionately high turnout rates in primaries. Moreover, Lamont may have compounded his problem by giving his victory speech with the likes of Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Kim Gandy. As my conservative cousin from New York explains,

[this] won’t help Lamont or the Democratic Party gain the votes of Polish shipyards workers in New London or Irish insurance industry employees in West Hartford. More to the point this kind of image could make such states as New Jersey, Michigan and Pennsylvania swing to the GOP in the next Presidential election. When [my wife] whose political sensibilities often mirror those of Blue Collar Catholics saw Lamont on the stage with Sharpton and Jackson she blurted out “there’s Richie Rich and the two Anti-Semites.”

SCOTT adds: Michael Barone wrote an excellent column for yesterday’s Wall Street Journal (subscribers only) providing his cutting analysis of the Connecticut primary vote. Here is the heart of it:

The Connecticut primary reveals that the center of gravity in the Democratic Party has moved, from the lunch-bucket working class that was the dominant constituency up through the 1960s to the secular transnational professional class that was the dominant constituency in the 2004 presidential cycle. You can see the results on the map. Joe Lieberman carried by and large the same cities and towns that John F. Kennedy carried in the 1960 presidential general election.

Ned Lamont carried most of the cities and towns that were carried by Richard Nixon. In Stamford, where Joe Lieberman grew up the son of a liquor-store owner, and where there are still sizeable blue-collar and black communities, Mr. Lieberman won with 55% of the vote. In next-door Greenwich, where Ned Lamont (like former President George H.W. Bush) grew up as the scion of an investment banker family, and where the housing values are now among the highest in the nation, Mr. Lamont won with 68% of the vote. If Mr. Lamont wins in November, he will be just one of several members of a Democratic caucus who have made, inherited or married big money.

The working class Democrats of the mid-20th century voted their interests, and knew that one of their interests was protecting the nation in which they were proud to live. The professional class Democrats of today vote their ideology and, living a life in which they are insulated from adversity, feel free to imagine that America cannot be threatened by implacable enemies. They can vote to validate their lifestyle cho8ices and their transnational attitudes.

In the mid-20th century the core constituencies of both the Democratic and the Republican Parties stood foursquare for America’s prosecution of World War II and the Cold War. Today, as the Connecticut results suggest, it’s different. The core constituency of the Republican Party stands foursquare for America’s prosecution of the global struggle against Islamofascist terrorism — and solidly on the side of Israel in its struggle against the same forces. The core constituency of the Democratic Party wants to stand aside from the global struggle — and, as the presence of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton at Mr. Lamont’s side on election night suggests, is not necessarily on the side of Israel. It’s not your father’s Democratic Party.

Barone’s blog also conveys his analysis in desultory form here.


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