The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

November 3, 2008
Looking ahead to governing

David Gergen, who advised Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton, isn't just looking for which candidate gets to the magic 270 electoral votes for a win on Tuesday.  He's looking beyond the campaign to governing.

So, in a column for CNN, he says what he's looking for:

1. Percentage of the national vote. Right now, there is a solid prospect that Obama can rack up 51 percent or more of the total vote. If so, he would be the first Democrat since Jimmy Carter to win a majority of the national vote (Carter had 50.1 percent) and only the second Democrat since Franklin Roosevelt to claim a majority (Lyndon Johnson was the other). That historic standing would give Obama a fresh boost as the president-elect and would mean that he could run ahead of members of Congress in their own states. In Washington, that gives a president extra power.

2. Number of red states won. In recent campaigns, Democratic presidential contenders have won mostly on the east and west coasts and the upper midwest. John Kerry only won 19 states plus the District of Columbia, and one could get on a plane at Dulles and fly to Los Angeles without flying over a state that the Democrats won.

Obama has had a vision since his convention speech in 2004 of Democrats becoming a national party, getting beyond the traditional red/blue divides. And he now has a good chance of doing it. If he can win a couple of southern states, plus two or three states from the Rocky Mountains, not to mention more Midwestern areas, he can claim a true national victory -- and he would have the makings of a new, majority coalition for the Democrats, something they have lacked for decades.

3. The size of Democratic wins in the Senate and House. The Democrats were heading toward significant pick-ups with or without a presidential win, but if Obama racks up a convincing victory and is accompanied by nine or more new Democratic Senators and a couple of dozen new House members, that will give him muscle on Capitol Hill that few Presidents have enjoyed. I was working for Ronald Reagan in 1980 when he trounced Jimmy Carter and Republicans swept to 12 pick-ups in the Senate and 33 in the House. Reagan was much more respected -- and effective -- in working with Congress because of that thumping victory."

Winning is one thing.  Winning convincingly is another, and it can make for greater effectiveness in governing.


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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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