Monday, November 1, 2021

No Longer Local

Now in his late 70s, Jeff Greenfield has been writing about politics for longer than I want to remember, maybe as long as Michael Barone. Today he writes that, if it was ever true, Tip O’Neill’s adage “all politics is local” is true no longer. As evidence he offers the following data points.

In 2020, only one Senate candidate, Maine Republican Susan Collins, won in a state carried by the other party’s presidential nominee. A decade ago, 23 senators came from states that had voted for the other party’s presidential candidate. Today, the number is six.

It is hard to argue with those numbers. Maybe the new hotness is that “all politics is national and ideological.”  

For sure, ticket splitting is less common than it was formerly. Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin who represents red West Virginia is acting very Republican-like as he hopes for reelection in 2024, we’ll see if it works.


Time was there were liberal Republicans in the northeast, of which Mitt Romney was one of the last as Massachusetts’s governor. And there were conservative Democrats across the south. Political “tents” were once larger, before the great ideological realignment. 

Recently, the parties have become something reminiscent of Dumb and Dumber: the Dems are Left and Lefter while the GOPs are Right and Righter. Attempted deviations from this new norm like Manchin and Sinema on one side and Collins and Romney on the other, catch a lot of ‘friendly fire’ from their own parties. 

When the ideological realignment happened, I applauded. Today I am less certain it was a winner for the country, although it still appears to be good for the parties.