Karl Rove on Republicans and suburbs

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In a break from our regularly scheduled business and economics programming, I offer some notes I just dug up from a conversation I had with Karl Rove about four years ago (on Sept. 10, 2004, to be precise).

We were mostly talking about William McKinley (a favorite subject of his) and the urban-oriented majority McKinley forged for the Republican Party in the 1896 that dominated American politics until 1932. I was throwing out the idea (it’s basically Ruy Teixeira‘s idea) that the Republican Party seemed at risk of painting itself into the same Southern- and rural-oriented corner that William Jennings Bryan and the Democrats had in 1896. There was evidence of this in results from the last few elections. Outside the Deep South, suburban counties that had once been solidly Republican (Orange County, Calif., was the example I threw out) seemed to be migrating toward the Dems.

Rove would have none of this:

That’s only because of the changing nature of the suburbs. The cities are spilling out into suburbs, the suburbs into exurban counties or smaller metropolitan areas.

I think you are getting way out there. What is happening now is that people who once lived in Orange County are now moving to San Diego or Riverside or Ventura or the Central Valley.

Is the old Republican county of Waukesha County in Wisconsin turning Democratic? No, there’s no change.

It is not universal. Is Douglas or Arapahoe County [in Colorado] becoming more Democratic? No. Jefferson County is. There is no generalized trend that says the old-line Republican suburbs are turning Democratic.

Anyway, I’ll be very interested in seeing those Douglas and Arapahoe and Ventura and Riverside and San Diego County results come next week. I’m betting Rove will still be right about Waukesha County, but who knows?