- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 8, 2001

The Democrats have lost their hold on the American electorate, especially among the young and the poor, and have ceased to be a majority party, according to a study of voter participation in the 2000 elections.
In a sharply critical analysis of the Democratic Party and its future, voter turnout specialist Curtis Gans himself a lifelong Democrat also said that the Democrats were "on the minority side of the cultural divide, in part, because of their advocacy of such things as gay rights, a woman's right to choose and gun control."
The party's positions "paint the picture of a Democrat Party both out of step with traditional values and pursuing the interests of fragments of the electorate at the expense of the whole," he said.
Mr. Gans said, "the Democrats have not found a coherent and overarching thread of advocacy," adding that with the exception of the environment, "there is no large issue with which they are identified."
With the approach of the 2002 midterm elections, when control of Congress and most of the nation's governorships will be up for grabs, the report by Mr. Gans' Committee for the Study of the American Electorate is not the kind of analysis Democrats want to see circulated right now. And his criticisms almost slipped by unnoticed.
While the study's turnout numbers, showing a rise in voter participation last year, were widely reported when they were released last week, its criticisms of the Democratic Party were ignored by the news media.
"What is incandescently clear is that the Democratic Party is no longer the majority party in America," the report said.
The Democrats "may gain some seats in 2002" as a result of the economy and because many more vulnerable Republican seats are at stake than Democratic ones, Mr. Gans said.
"But they have lost their hold on the American electorate, no longer capture the idealism of the young and the poor, [who] no longer see the party as a place to repose their hopes," he said.
Looking at the declining voter registration and turnout numbers in recent decades, Mr. Gans said that nothing was more significant than "what has happened to the Democratic Party." Among his findings:
"Democratic registration has fallen 30 percent, from a high of 48.3 percent in 1984 to 33.6 percent in 2000."
"Since 1968, the Democrats have failed to get more than 25 percent of the eligible vote in every election with the one exception of 1976."
"Since 1964, the Democrats have failed to get more than 50 percent of the votes cast with the one exception of 1976."
Democrats controlled the Senate by an average majority of 20 seats between 1930 and 1994. "They now hold a slim one-seat majority after three elections in which they were in the minority."
During this same period, Democrats controlled the House "for all but four years and had an average majority of 94 seats. For the last four elections, they have been in the minority."
The Democrats also held a majority of the governorships for most of this period. Now the lineup is 29 Republican governors, 19 Democrats and two independents.
William Buck, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, said, "I feel confident of the future prospects of the Democratic Party. After all, we received half a million more votes in the presidential election last year."


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