In an interview today posted at theSiouxEmpire.com, State Senator Billie Sutton lamented that his party’s electoral woes are partly to blame from redistricting and party because South Dakota Democrats are lumped together with Washington DC Democrats:
We lost a lot of Democrats in South Dakota, that were nothing like Washington Democrats but they got tied to that. If you had a ‘D’ beside your name a lot of people in our state tied you to Washington Democrats. That’s something that I found to be a little bit surprising and it wasn’t anticipated, that the vote would go that way based on national politics. Democrats have a big task ahead of them, to separate ourselves from Washington.”
Sutton also acknowledged that redistricting placed a significant role in this year’s election. A ballot measure to create an independent panel for redistricting at the state level failed in November. “They (the Republicans) don’t have over fifty percent of the electorate. They’re forty-eight percent and, with independents, over fifty percent but there’s a difference in who gets out to vote and also redistricting is a huge issue, something we felt really good about but it went down in flames.”
I’d argue that Sutton badly misses the mark in most instances. The Dem’s problems stem largely because they don’t show up for elections, largely choosing not to run, or running placeholders. As well as spending their time of Sisyphean efforts such as ballot issues which have little to do with party politics. And Sutton very erroneously cites redistricting, as in two of the last 3 redistricting cycles, Republicans lost seats before they regained them.
But there might be a slight nugget of truth in one point he has, when it comes to how people view Democrats as having adopted and embracing the views of Washington DC Democrats. But the problem with his characterization is not that South Dakota Democrats aren’t viewed separately – it’s that South Dakotans are recognizing that Sutton’s party of the liberal left is more and more reflecting the policies coming out of Washington DC’s liberal elite.
Are Dems moving farther to the left? Absolutely. And there’s proof of it.
In a study released today by the Gallup organization – the trends are there and real. While Republicans are consistently conservative, Democrats on a national level are moving farther and farther to the left. And there’s no end in sight:
Since Gallup began routinely measuring Americans’ political ideology in 1992, conservative identification has varied between 36% and 40%. At the same time, there has been a clear increase in the percentage identifying as politically liberal, from 17% to 25%. This has been accompanied by a corresponding decrease in the percentage identifying as “moderate,” from 43% to 34%.
Moderates were consistently the most prevalent group from 1992 to 2002, before first yielding that designation to conservatives in 2003. Within the long-term stability of conservatism, the percentage of Americans self-identifying as conservative jumped to 40% several times between 2003 and 2011, but it has since returned to 36%.
The annual ideology figures are based on combined data from Gallup’s multiday, non-tracking surveys conducted each year, encompassing no fewer than 11,000 interviews, and in most years, more than 20,000 interviews.
Democrats Shifting Further Left; GOP Remains Conservative
Most of the long-term change in Americans’ political views occurred after 2000 and can be explained by one overarching factor — an increasing likelihood of Democrats (including independents who lean Democratic) to self-identify as liberal. Democratic liberal identification has increased by about one percentage point each year, from 30% in 2001 to 44% in 2016. As a result, liberalism now ranks as the top ideological group among Democrats.
“Liberalism now ranks as the top ideological group among Democrats.” A cold, hard fact that Democrat Leaders in the State are left to face.
Sutton should realize that it’s not that South Dakota attitudes have changed. It’s that the liberal ideologues in the South Dakota Democrat party have increased in number and have taken over.
And by and large, South Dakotans just don’t identify with the liberals who have taken over Sutton’s party.
Whether they come from Washington DC, or Sioux Falls, South Dakota.