Ruy Teixeira

Ruy Teixeira is a senior fellow and co-director of the Progressive Studies Program at the Center for American Progress.

Recent Articles

Diffident Democrats:

A recent widely noted New York Times article recounted the many difficulties that Democrats are having getting their preferred candidates to run in key races in 2002. Many prospective candidates are backing off from running because they believe that the current war against terrorism will make it too hard to run a strong campaign. The upsurge in national unity and patriotism, it is thought, will lead most voters to favor the incumbent party and look askance at challengers. Good heavens! Can't someone get these timid souls--and the Democratic Party as a whole, for that matter--to eat their Wheaties? Start with the fact that history simply does not support this interpretation. As Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., pointed out in a Times op-ed that ran not long after the original article on diffident Democrats, wartime in the twentieth century has consistently failed to produce immediate electoral benefits for the incumbent party. Consider 1918, 18 months after war was declared: Incumbent...

Who Deserted the Democrats in 1994?

Analysts have pronounced 1994 an ideological election because the economy was growing overall. But look who was swinging Republican.

A merican elections have long best been understood as referenda on the economy, but last November the economy didn't seem to matter to voters. By most traditional measures 1992 through 1994 were years of strong economic performance, yet the incumbent Democrats took a historic beating. For exultant Republican pollsters, this was evidence of a genuine ideological victory. For social scientists who touted models of voter behavior geared to economic aggregates such as growth in gross domestic product, it was another professional embarassment. For Democratic strategists, or anyone interested in something better than Contract politics, it should be a wake-up call for a more careful analysis. Either the economy really does not matter, in which case Democrats need to find new ideological appeals to an increasingly conservative voting public. Or it matters in ways that traditional analyses do not detect, in which case Democrats need a new electoral strategy based on new economic appeals. Which...

The Tax Cut Nobody Wants

How important are tax cuts? Judging from the campaigns of the major presidential candidates, you'd think they were pretty important. Republican George W. Bush has made a huge, broad-based tax cut--$483 billion over five years, as much as $1.7 trillion over 10 years--a centerpiece, if not the centerpiece, of his campaign. And even Democrat Al Gore has called for $350 billion in tax cuts (over 10 years), including everything from a reduction in the "marriage penalty" to targeted tax incentives in areas like education and retirement. Given these impressive promises, we'd expect to see considerable support for tax cuts in current public-opinion polls. The funny thing is, we don't; we see exactly the reverse. The public is remarkably uninterested in tax cuts and, if anything, is becoming less interested by the day. Consider the following examples, in which people are offered a choice between tax cuts and other possible uses of budgetary resources, starting with Medicare and Social Security...

Lessons for Next Time

A fter trailing for almost all of the last six weeks before the election, Al Gore wound up the victor in the popular vote on November 7, nosing out George W. Bush 48.6 percent to 48.3 percent. Where did all these Gore voters come from? First and foremost, they came from the Democratic base. According to the Voter News Service (VNS) exit poll, blacks supported Gore over Bush by a whopping 90 percent to 8 percent, a margin 10 points larger than the Bill Clinton-Bob Dole margin in 1996. Hispanics supported Gore 67 percent to 31 percent, and union household members went for the vice president 59 percent to 37 percent--strong figures, albeit somewhat smaller margins than in the Clinton-Dole election. Exit polls suggest that black turnout nationally was about the same as in 1996 (though certain targeted states like Florida may have had substantial increases). But the national Hispanic and union turnout was probably higher; poll samples indicate increased...

Behind the Numbers: The Real Electorate

New census data about who voted in 1996 paint a very different picture than did the initial reports from exit polls.

R ecently released data from the Bureau of the Census now reveal a picture of the voting public in 1996 that is substantially different from the one that was available immediately after the election. Initially, analysts believed the electorate was dominated by upscale, college-educated voters. The census data show that view was wrong and suggest that political strategies based on that perception may not work. There are three powerful sources of data on national elections in the United States: the Voter News Service (VNS) exit polls released on election night; the National Election Study (NES) conducted at the University of Michigan and released in April 1997; and the census survey of voter participation, conducted in November 1996 and released in full in October 1997. Each of these sources has its strengths and limitations. Used judiciously, they allow some fairly definitive judgments on voters and voter behavior in the last election. In the immediate wake of the election, based on...

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