Democrats may be hurt by antiwar divisions in 2008

Cooperation between diverse antiwar groups helped the Democratic Party in the 2006 congressional elections. However, the changing relationship between the Democratic Party and the antiwar activists could hurt the Democrats in the upcoming 2008 presidential election, according to research published in the current issue of American Politics Research from SAGE.

The study’s authors, Michael T. Heaney (University of Florida) and Fabio Rojas (Indiana University), found that the antiwar movement is divided in its support for the Democratic Party. Roughly 40% of grassroots antiwar activists support the Democrats, 20% support a third party (such as the Green Party), 39% are independents and 2% support the Republicans.

The research revealed that the Democrats in the movement are more likely to work with organizations like MoveOn.org, the Progressive Democrats of America, and Code Pink: Women for Peace, while non-Democratic activists are more likely to work with organizations like United for Peace and Justice and International ANSWER (Act now to Stop War and End Racism).

When antiwar activists work closely with the Democratic Party, an informal political network of activists and organizations is created and those activists are more likely to engage in political activities that help the Democrats. The elected officials respond by helping sympathetic activists in the antiwar movement, however, that balance is unstable and could hurt the Democrats as much or more than it helps them, especially since the activists are increasingly concerned by continued Democratic support of war funding.

“Leading antiwar groups are planning to hold large protests at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, much like they did at the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York,” Heaney reports. “The Democrats could find their party divided in 2008 much as it was in 1968, with many of its natural supporters camped outside the convention hall, definitely complicating the Democrats’ electoral prospects.”

http://www.sagepub.com

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