The Wall Street Journal has a feature on their website that allows you to explore the history of the Democratic and Republican conventions, including information about the platforms for both parties over the years. The first Democratic Convention was held in 1832, but their first platform wasn’t created until 1840. The first Republican Convention was held in 1856, and their platform called for the prohibition of polygamy and slavery in the territories. Very interesting to look at the parties and their evolution since their formation.
The coalition of conservative/moderate Democrats - known as Blue Dogs - formed in 1995, but have been in decline since 2010 when they lost half their numbers, many to Republican challengers. Their decline continued last week in Pennsylvania, when two incumbents lost their primary elections. Jason Altmire was defeated by Mark Crtiz in a matchup of incumbents in the 12th District (although Critz also seems to be more moderate), and Tim Holden was defeated by primary challenger Matt Cartwright. Only 10 are expected to return to Congress in 2013. Part of the issue is redistricting, as districts are drawn in such a way that moderate members of either party cannot survive. But the Blue Dogs haven’t exactly done a great job of supporting each other either, i.e., they seem to lack the organization and money needed to survive and grow.
After discussing the changing demographics of the United States at the Bipartisan Policy Center, Ruy Teixeira and Sean Trende spoke with Governing magazine about the political outcomes of those demographic trends (Source).
In the short term, those demographics favour the Democratic Party, because of the growing minority vote, white college graduates, the millennial generation and the disappearing white working class. Longer term, there could be a shift back to the right if “the economic well-being of Hispanics were to improve in the coming years,” because exit poll data shows that higher income Hispanics are more likely to vote Republican than other higher income minority voters. This is something I have discussed before here, and it’s a reasonable outcome to suppose, because we’ve seen it before as white voters in the South began to switch to the Republican Party as wealth and incomes began to rise.
A recent book by Cal Jillson - Lone Star Tarnished - discusses the importance of demographics in the future of Texas as the Anglo population has grown slower than the national population since 1980 and the Hispanic population grows faster than any other group in the state (Source). As Prof. Jillson notes in his book, how this effects the state will depend on the development of the Hispanic population (which is tied to the state’s infrastructure, such as public education). The effects are not just economic and social, but political as well, as both parties will be effected by the growth and development of Texas’ Hispanic population.
The six party committees - DNC, DSCC, DCCC, RNC, RSCC and RCCC - raised a combined $404 million in 2011 compared to $86 million combined by Democrat and Republican affiliated Super PACs (Source). The study was conducted by the Campaign Finance Institute, and you can view the tables showing the historical rates of fundraising here.
The Democratic National Committee has raised more than the Republican National Committee, but the RNC raised more money from smaller donors than the DNC - presumably from the grassroots supporters who have not contributed to the Republican Presidential candidates. The DNC has also been helped by holding joint fundraisers with President Obama and tapping into his awesome fundraising network.
Personally, I see it as a good sign that the parties are raising these amounts considering that unlimited contributions can be made to super PACs; however, we haven’t reached the general election yet, and that is where the parties will put this money to use, so it remains to be seen how their spending in particular races will compare to those of super PACs.