Kansas Republicans evolve -- into Democrats: This is a story about the hard-core conservatives in Kansas, and a schism in the Kansas Republican Party. For some of the Republicans in Kansas the hard-core line being followed by some is too extreme. So they are ditching out of the Republican party and joining the Democratic party. This switchover is being led by the Governor, Kathleen Sebelius.
One factoid to consider is the geographic localities at play here. Most of the switchers, that is most of the moderates who feel out of place in todays Republican party, are from Johnson County. In case you don't know Kansas geography, Johnson County is just outside Kansas City, just south of Kansas City Kansas, and is the home to Overland Park and Lenexa. The local high-tech boom in the Kansas City area is largely occuring in Johnson County, and Johnson County is also a well-to-do bedroom community for Kansas City itself.
For what it's worth, I grew up in Lenexa and Overland Park but it's been 35 years since I was last there. I'm sure a few things have changed. The article describes Johnson County as "cupcake land", a dizzying maze of highways and shopping malls and upscale suburbs. Yup, that sounds like my memory of Johnson County alrighty.
This is a longish article with many ideas to ponder:
"There's been a long series of Republican infighting over issues that do not affect people's daily lives," Parkinson explains. "I'm 49. I got tired of fighting about whether Charles Darwin was right when I was 14 or 15. I'm not spending the rest of my life on that issue."
This theme is returned to over and over in the article. There are these fundamentalist Christians who call themselves Conservative and have taken over the Republican Party. They are intent on battling the good fight for their right to insist that Charles Darwin was wrong, that Evolution is just a theory, that the Bible says God created everything, that the Bible is right, and perhaps there is some Intelligence at work Designing the Universe, oh and that God is highly offended by Abortion and that even though God is immensely loving he is going to damn us all to hell for being sinners especially if we take part in baby killing rituals like Abortion.
Whew, that was a lot of memes to go through. But it seems these moderates are sick and tired of fighting over those issues and want to deal with real problems. They are fiscally conservative, not socially conservative. Fiscal conservatives are more concerned with balancing the books etc. Oh, and these people value education very highly.
So, for example, when social conservatives won control of the state Board of Education and started injecting Intelligent Design and other fundamentalist Christian ideals into state eductation, that offended these moderates.
An interesting factoid is that 1/5th of the population of Kansas lives in Johnson County.
This seems to follow a split you see if you closely examine the voting results in the 2000 and 2004 elections. Don't look at state level results, but look at the results per county within each state. Overwhelmingly it is the urban and suburban areas that have been voting for the Democratic presidential candidate. Not in every state and not in every urban area, but the vast majority of the times the rural areas in each state is voting for the Republican candidate, and the urban/suburban areas are voting for the Democratic candidate.
Johnson County, being suburban, is just following that pattern.