(Proudly cross-posted at C4O Democrats)
About 2 weeks ago, we talked about the rising Democratic tide in The Southwest. Now, I want to discuss what’s happening in The Northwest. Believe it or not, we have plenty of opportunities up north as well.
Want to come along with me as we look at where we can win in 2010 and beyond?
Let’s start in Wyoming. While John McCain beat Barack Obama by 32%, it was an improvement over Bush’s 40% margin of victory in 2004. And believe it or not, Wyoming voters twice elected Democrat Dave Freudenthal as Governor while Democrat Gary Trauner twice lost the At-Large House seat by surprisingly narrow margins. We have an opportunity in 2010 to win both races, as Freudenthal is termed out and newly elected GOP Rep. Cynthia Lummis doesn’t seem much more popular than outgoing GOP Rep. Barbara Cubin. I see both races as “Leans Republican” now, but that can change if we find good candidates.
Unlike Wyoming, Montana is rapidly trending Democratic. Bush won the state by 20% in 2004, but McCain could only muster a 3% win and Obama may be the first Democrat since Bill Clinton in 1992 to win here in 2012. And better yet, Montana now has 2 Democratic Senators, a Democratic Governor, and a split legislature. But for some reason, incumbent GOP Rep. Dennis Rehberg is still in office. If we find a strong Democrat to challenge Rehberg in 2010, I think we can make this “Likely Republican” seat more competitive.
Now Idaho may not be trending Democratic as quickly as Montana, but the state is moving our way. Bush’s 39% win in 2004 was reduced to a 25% McCain win this year. And better yet, Democrat Walt Minnick scored a stunning upset win over incumbent GOP Rep. Bill Sali in ID-01. But even though Minnick won this year, we must remember that this House seat will be the top GOP seat in 2010. This race looks like a “Toss-up” now, and we’ll need to work hard to hold ID-01 while continuing to make electoral gains in Idaho.
While all the other Northwest states previously mentioned still tilt toward the GOP, Washington state is quite the different game. Barack Obama won here by 17%, a great improvement over Kerry’s narrower 7% win in 2004. Meanwhile, Democratic Governor Chris Gregoire won reelection this year while Democratic majorities in both houses of the legislature, both Democratic Senators, and all 6 Democratic House Reps. look quite safe. However, we have a chance to pick up another House seat in the eastern suburban Seattle WA-08 district. Incumbent GOP Rep. Dave Reichert only narrowly won reelection in 2006 & 2008 in a district that both Kerry & Obama won. If we perhaps find a candidate with legislative experience to challenge Reichert in 2010, we can finally win this “Toss-up” race.
As you can see, The Northwest is undergoing many of the same changes being seen Southwest. Wyoming and Idaho may still look strongly Republican, but Montana has rapidly become a swing state as Oregon and Washington have gone from simply leaning Democratic to strongly Democratic. As the population grows, diversifies, and changes from rural to suburban & urban, Democrats are rising to victory.
As long as demographics change and voters continue to care less about “the culture wars” and more about issues like energy, environmental preservation, and economic development, Democrats will win. That’s why our party must continue to invest in winning The West. So are you ready to win?