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Shields, Brooks Reflect on Campaigns’ Defining Moments

Columnists Mark Shields and David Brooks recap the week's economic and political news, and recall significant campaign twists and turns in their last analysis before Nov. 4.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    First, David, how do you read the importance of North Carolina, Georgia and the other southern states, what we just heard?

  • DAVID BROOKS, Columnist, New York Times:

    Especially in the Senate, really important. If McCain starts losing those states in the presidential, he'll lose by a lot.

    But to me, two things are going on here. The one which I associate a little more with Georgia is that this is just a tough year for Republicans, and so they're going to be challenged in a lot of states they really shouldn't be challenged in.

    But then there's a second trend which I associate more with North Carolina, which is really a long tectonic shift away from the Republican Party, especially in places like North Carolina, where, as we've heard, you've got the people moving from the north down to North Carolina, and then you've got the rise, especially around the Research Triangle area, of highly educated people and young people, and those people are fleeing the Republican Party in droves.

    And so I've spent a lot of time in North Carolina, and people had a sense the Democrats were going to do a lot better year upon year. I think they were surprised it's happening this year.

    They thought it might happen four years or eight years from now, because there has been this long-term trend away from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party, because the Republicans are losing these sorts of people, highly educated people.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    And also the surge in the African-American vote, as well?

  • MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:

    The surge in the African-American vote is enormous. I do think, Jim, that the significance is more than just this election, because we've had a given of a solid South, really, for the past 40 years, that it's been the most reliable, dependable, and homogenous Republican…

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Beginning with Richard Nixon.

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    Beginning with Richard Nixon — George Wallace in 1968…

  • JIM LEHRER:

    George Wallace, right.

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    … and then Nixon brought in the Wallace vote in '72. And so the Democrats have really not been competitive there.

    And I think that, when any area of the country becomes more competitive, it's not only healthy for our politics, but it's very healthy for the two-party system, that Democrats now have to think in terms of the support of and the encouragement and the re-election of Democrats who are elected from that region, if they're going to, in fact, compete there in a real way.