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Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Update: Arkansas

Posted by

The latest from Zogby gives Kerry a 0.2% lead in Arkansas (46.9% Kerry vs. 46.7% Bush). This is a good sign that the recent Bush surge in the state has come to a halt (the last few polls had Bush pulling out in front.) It's also a good sign because Arkansas is an important swing state: It's six electoral votes could prove to be important in getting Kerry over the hump of the 270 EVs needed to win the election in certain scenarios where the five EVs of Nevada, New Mexico, or West Virginia would leave Kerry with only 269 EVs.

It appears that the fight to keep Nader off the ballot in Arkansas is now dead, after the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled Friday, by a 4-3 margin, to overturn a circuit court's ruling that the "signatories who petitioned for Nader's name to be on the ballot had not declared him as their candidate." However, Nader received only 1.46% of the popular vote in 2000 in Arkansas, and I'm not so sure there won't be more Republicans than Democrats casting their vote for Nader this time around.

Overall, I'd say that things look pretty positive in Arkansas: There's a strong ground campaign, lots of attention on the grand opening of the Clinton Presidential Center in 42 days, and I've noticed an increase in support for Kerry in the letters section of the state's largest newspaper, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Michael Moore was in the state Sunday to speak in front of a packed audience at a local University, and he allowed the sister of deceased Beatle George Harrison to say a few words on her disagreement with the war in Iraq. (This sort of stuff plays big in Arkansas!)

Finally, I want to note that the SSP was mentioned in an article on the front page of the Democrat-Gazette (unfortunately, it's subscription only). The article was about the Democrats successfully deploying a larger number of out-of-state ground troops in Arkansas than the GOP. Here's an excerpt:

For those who want to participate in such up-close politics, several Internet sites have popped up this election season, designed to enable volunteers to travel with ease into swing states across the country both to register voters and, now, after most registration deadlines have passed, participate in getout-the-vote efforts.

Most of those Web sites, including drivingvotes.org, swingstateproject.com, moveon.org and swingthestate.org, which advertises itself as the "anti-Bush travel agency," are geared toward Democrats.

Congratulations David and SSP'ers!

Posted at 11:40 PM in Arkansas | Technorati


Congrats on getting some well deserved recognition. I check SSP project daily (Even if I don't post or comment... Sorry). One of my favorite blogs.

Posted by: Diamondrock at October 7, 2004 12:12 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

wishful thinking my friend.

Posted by: Bill at October 7, 2004 12:56 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Look...I hope Kerry wins..but there is NO WAY he carries a southern state. Gore couldn't carry Arkansas in 2000 and he WAS Clinton's VP. One other thing...GORE WAS from the south. What makes you think that a Mass liberal stands a chance in the REAL south (Florida is not the real south as there is a lot of NE influence)? Remember...southerners will vote Democratic for House, Senate, Gov, and local, but will not vote Democratic for President Look at Louisiana...the most democratic state in the south. Kerry has zero chance. Has anyone been to the south lately? VERY PATRIOTIC AND VERY TRUSTING. WE should focus our attention on the Midwest where there is a good chance MN and IA will go to Bush not to mention Wis almost already has. All states Gore won in 2000. To me...the best strategy is to hold on to what you won in 2000 and focus on MN, IA, PA, OH and forget wasting money money in Arkansas.

Posted by: bayoububba at October 7, 2004 01:15 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

bayou, I share your concerns, but most polls show Kerry only slightly behind Bush in Arkansas...and this has been a trend dating back to early summer. Gore lost Arkansas because he ignored it. Had he visited there with any degree of regularity, he would have had a resaonable chance of winning it. I continue to see Arkansas as winnable for Kerry, even if his changes are less than 50%. For Kerry to gamble everythingon a couple pink states that may or not go his way is a suicide mission. Gore found that out with Florida four years ago and may well again. The Dems need to deepen the battleground and quit conceding defeat in 28 U.S. states every four years based on regional stereotypes or the first bad poll numbers. Clearly, Kerry has no business advertising in Mississippi or Alabama, and at this point in the campaign, even Louisiana...but to say he should ignore Arkansas when most polls are within the margin of error simply because "Southerners aren't supposed to vote for non-Southerners" is a foolhardy move that plays right into the Republican's hands and assures the Dems of long-term minority party status.

Posted by: Mark at October 7, 2004 01:45 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Rob, welcome back! Thanks for the excellent update - and thanks for the great find! I'll have to pull up the article on Lexis.

As for what makes me (and Rob, presumably) think we can win Arkansas is the fact that the polling is consistently very close - and Bush has rarely broken 50%.

Posted by: DavidNYC at October 7, 2004 01:51 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

This is excellent news about AR...I always knew it was closer than people thought. Now I hope the Kerry-Edwards team notices!

Well, I did it. I contributed to Tony Knowles, Ken Salazar, Betty Castor, Erskine Bowles, Brad Carson, and Tom Daschle.

I feel bad not having given to Inez Tenenbaum, because I'm a big fan of hers, but I just don't think she stands enough of a chance at winning for the money to make a difference. After all, the only poll that has yet shown her ahead was her own campaign's poll. Most polls show that homophobic asshole DeMint with a double-digit lead.

It's good though to see Brad Carson ahead of the rabid Tom Coburn...even if Carson is too conservative for my taste, he is a Democrat and I don't predict him turning into another Zell Miller. I just hope Oklahomans don't end up turning on him. I don't think they will - the choice is clear: hire a guy who calls legislators "crapheads" and agreements with Amerindian nations "primitive" or hire a rational, middle-of-the-road, clear-thinker.

It's also good to see Tony Knowles ahead of Lisa Murkowski...I really am curious about CO, though. SUSA showed Coors ahead by 5, but the previous poll showed Salazar ahead by 1, and many other polls had showed Salazar ahead...a true toss-up.

Meanwhile, how did Erskine Bowles go from a 9-point lead to a 1-point lead in a week? A bad polling sample? That's just weird.

It seems to me that the defining Senate races this year will not be in IL or GA (the two landslide pickups, IL for the Democrats and GA for the Republicans). They will be in AK, CO, FL, NC, OK, SD, and maybe SC and/or LA, though I don't think SC will be very close (sadly) and I think that when the Democrats are unified behind Chris John in LA (their primary isn't until...yes, indeed, November 2!), the race will go smoothly.

As far as the House, unless we don't lose any seat and pick up a minimum of 12 seats, such as CO-03, GA-12, NM-01, PA-08, MN-02, IL-08, OH-04, MN-06, AZ-01, NC-13, NY-27, and NV-03, I don't see us taking the majority. Give it time for people like Tom DeLay, Katherine Harris, and Dennis Hastert to prove what leeches they are. In the meantime, I don't mind having a divided Congress...I just can't stand having both chambers be Republican.

After all, remember that if we are successful in taking the majority of the Senate, it won't matter as much whether Bush steals the election or not. If he is elected, he will inherit a divided Congress (just as was the case in 2001), so that he will never be able to pass his poisonous legislation because it won't make it past the Senate.

Now, if we got Lincoln Chafee to become an Independent or a Democrat (a la Jim Jeffords), that would make things all the more sweet.

I look forward to the next General Election Cattle Call...and Friday's debate!

Posted by: Nathaniel at October 7, 2004 02:29 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Kerry might be able to win Arkansas and/or Missouri, but I still think it would not be a right decision to spend much on these states. As things stand now, Kerry can only win these if he does slightly better than in the polls not only on the state-level, but nationally. If that is the case, he'll pick up 270 from the blue states and the traditional swing states anyway.

In other words, a campaign to take Arkansas or Missouri has its chances, but only when those states aren't really important anyway.

Posted by: Andre at October 7, 2004 06:12 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I'm ambivalent about spending serious time and money in AR. It might look close and within the realm of possibility for Kerry, but so what? If you think Kerry has a realistic chance in AR because of polls, you'd have to then agree that Bush has a realistic shot at MI, where most polls show that state in a virtual deadlock. I don't buy it. In the end, AR will be red and MI will be blue. HOWEVER, it would be a real victory for a Democratic candidate for president to win a Southern state (and FL is not a true Southern state). Until the Democrats can "crack the South," they will have an uphill battle. So maybe AR is worth some time and money, to make the party on the national level more national.

Posted by: pepe at October 7, 2004 07:00 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Pepe, I agree, states tend to vote along their long term trend lines, unless a major 3rd party candidate like Perot is factored in. There's real reason to think that after all the votes are counted that AR won't be in the Bush column, and MI won't be in the Kerry column.

As we've said, this election will probably come down to three states, PA, OH and FL. Whoever wins 2 of 3 will be our next President. Of course, if Bush or Kerry scores a major upset in say MN (for Bush) or MO (for Kerry), it could upset the applecart, but for now we've got to go with the long term trends and realistic polling. Keep in mind that polling doesn't inclued undecideds, in a Democratic state those undecideds will mainly break D, and in a Republican state the undecideds will mainly break R.

Posted by: Rock_nj at October 7, 2004 09:17 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

FYI: The three post-veep debate polls from Rasmussen show Bush by rough 1%. Pre-debate polls had Bush up by 3-3.5%. Don't know if it's coincidental, but if it's not, that would suggest Edwards was able to cut through the GOP spin machine and score points with voters.

Posted by: DM at October 7, 2004 01:03 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Come election night, I suspect we'll see at least one state go very narrowly for Bush that was suspected to go widely for Bush. There were no shortage of them in 2000. One such state in 2004 could easily be Arkansas, and particularly if Kerry loses by pouring all his energy into Ohio and Florida and still coming up short, there is going to be tremendous regret circulating among Kerry campaign insiders and supporters who looked at months worth of tied polls and responded with a defeatist "Weee Surrrrender!!!".

Focusing primarily on winning two out of three of OH, PA, and FL strikes me as a roadmap to defeat. Perhaps it'll work out for us, but it's pure luck if it does. A broader strategy of bringing smaller states into the Democratic fray is certainly necessary to win long-term, and may in fact be necessary even for this election. Furthermore, why is it that everyone is suggesting Arkansas is a Republican state? I see no evidence to back that up, other than the fact that Bush won it in 2000 as a result of Gore doing the same surrender tactics that Kerry is today.

Posted by: Mark at October 7, 2004 01:28 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

DM, there isn't a true poll post-VP debate on Rasmussen. They use a three day moving average. Therefore, today's poll has 1,000 calls from Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday. My guess is around half the calls taken Tuesday were before the debate. That makes today���s poll about 50% before and 50% after the VP debate.

Posted by: DFuller at October 7, 2004 01:30 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Mark, Campaigns are all about winning. Remember, politicians have built a career, decades of service, just for this moment where they might win the highest office in the land. It's easy for us armchair analysts (or computer chair analysts) to say Kerry should go after this or that state. But, the fact is, Kerry wants to win. That's not to say he might not miscalculate like Gore perhaps did in 2000 when he pulled out of OH and WV. But, getting to 270 EVs is the only thing that really matters on election night, and winning AR or NV in a long shot effort, probably won't be enough to put Kerry over the top. The fact is, there states have the EVs and are close enough for Kerry to really concentrate on, FL, OH, and PA. Perhaps Kerry is being hurt by the hurricanes, but such is life.

Don't get me wrong. I hope Kerry wins a few Bush states like NV, WV, AR, etc. But, that would just be icing on the cake. He wants to win, and to do that he needs to win some big states.

BTW, the reason why AR is now considered Republican is the same reason why WV is quickly trending Republican. It's all part of the decades long realignment of the South from D to R. It's not surprising that some of the marginally Southern states like WV and AR are only now joining the fold. These changes take a long time and eventually people vote with other people they identify with. If you're some dude in rural AR or WV, who are you going to identify with the rest of the South or northeastern liberals? Also, the overwhelming PR machine that has been constructed by Repbulicans in the 1990s with things like Rush Limpballs and Faux News are starting to really pay dividends. Millions of Americans are now essentially indoctrinated. Is it a surprise that it is states where Limpballs and Faux is popular that are trending Republican? I don't think so.

Posted by: Rock_nj at October 7, 2004 04:32 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

rock, I'm not convinced that Arkansas has been fully indoctrinated in Southern voting habits yet. I can see the unfortunate trendlines for West Virginia, but am not seeing it in Arkansas. I believe there is substantial room for growth in many of Arkansas' rural counties, where the spread between Gore and Bush was pretty much even and where favorite son Clinton dominated.

I continue to vehemently disagree with your assessment that elections can be won in three states. Obviously, OH, PA and FL are primary targets, but to suggest that the other 47 states of the union are mere "icing on the cake" is a strategy that will destroy the Democratic party.

Posted by: Mark at October 7, 2004 04:39 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I see what you're saying about not putting all of our eggs in one basket. For longer term prospects, it would be good to build a strong Democratic party in places like the Southwest and Mississippi Delta. But, I'm afraid Kerry has about 21 days and limited resources to figure out which states are best for putting him over the top on Nov 2nd. Now, if you're Kerry and you're looking at close polling, do you go for smaller states like AR, NV and WV that may or may not win you the election, or big ones like OH and FL that will win you the election? The fact is regardless of if Bush wins WI or Kerry wins NV, whoever wins 2 of 3 OH, PA and FL will almost certainly be our next President. That's what they look at I believe.

Who knows what another 4 years will bring?!? Bush would have just about nothing to run on in 2004 if 9/11/01 didn't happen. Who knows what the country will be like in 4 years. I do think it would be in the Dems interest to build a new coalition between the Northeast/Upper Mid West and West/Southwest. That could be the sort of coalition that wins the Presidency for generations. But, for now we have to deal with an election in about three weeks.

I think the thing that has really hurt the Dems in rural America is the gun issues. Where I live in suburban NJ guns are more or less a pariah. NJ has one of the strongest assult gun bans and it's very popular amongst mainstream voters, enjoying 80% support. But, I know there's a whole other culture in Middle America that worships guns. Screw healthcare, screw my job, I want my gun. So be it. It's the sort of social issue that hurts Dems in states like AR that were once places where they had a real shot at winning. The Dems need to figure out a way to get the South to focus on other issues.

BTW, it is kind of illogical to think that Gore actually miscalculated in 2000 by putting his hopes on FL. There's no doubt that Gore would have won FL easily if they didn't have a 3rd world voting system. There were 1,000s of people who went out that day intending to vote for Gore, who had their votes either miscounted or thrown out. That's why the exit polling firms were calling the election for Gore in FL. That's exactly what the exit polling was telling them. So, essentially Gore made the right choice in putting the hard press on Florida in 2000. It's the election officials, like that Democratic Country woman in West Palm who designed the stupid butterfly ballot, who really cost him the election. His strategy was right tough; he just got screwed on the ground.

Posted by: Rock_nj at October 7, 2004 05:04 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

While not a gun owner myself, and somewhat repelled by some of the extremist gun groups, I think gun control is a bad idea for several reasons. And furthermore, the issue has been an absolute disaster at the Federal level for the Dems.

Gun issues almost certainly cost the Dems the House in 1994, and they still haven't regained it and given gerrymandering, may not do so for a long time. Gun issues cost Dems a very important potential constituency -- Blue Collar voters. Furthermore, it reinforces the image of the elite liberal who doesn't understand the common people.

And the gun issue certainly cost Gore the election. Without it, he'd certainly have got FL and NH and TN, PA would have been wider, and he might have gotten WV or Ohio as well.

Kerry has tried to defuse the gun issue by showing up with his gun at shooting events. But the NRA just launched an ad barrage against him. They're trying to link him to Kennedy, Feinstein, Schumer, whom a lot of gun owners dislike. They're pointing to his voting record as MA Senator. Of course, an MA Senator, just like an NJ Senator is always going to be pro gun-control. The NRA is being hypocritical here, because they didn't take Gore's Senatorial gun record (A+ on gun issues) into account. Still, gun control may be less of an issue this time around because Kerry hasn't mentioned it and any potential blue collar voters who might be swayed by this topic probably weren't going to vote for Kerry anyway.

This is one place where Dean would have been stronger, he had an A rating from the NRA as Vermont Governor.

Posted by: erg at October 7, 2004 05:29 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

If I were Kerry, I would allocate resources as evenly as possible in all of the battleground states (according to population and cost per market of course). With the 527s saturating the airwaves with a groundswell of their own anti-Bush ads, I would let them step up to the plate to fill in whatever perceived void there is. Your Florida example actually reinforces my point. The shenanigans and bad luck Gore ran into there were largely a consequence of its being the primary battleground. Republicans were ready, knowing a loss in Florida would cost Gore the election because he had conceded so many other states to Bush. My position is that we need an effective enough cushion to at least potentially insulate ourselves from a Florida-style scenario. If we make it abundantly clear that our election hopes rest on the Big Three, we're less likely to catch the GOP off guard and they're more likely to be prepared for our strategy. Considering the GOP's long tentacles in statewide offices in all three of these states, save for PA's Democratic Governor, we're fighting an uphill battle for a fair election outcome in the states that have become "must-win" due to this very strategy of pink state abandonment.

You are correct about the gun issue. Gore probably lost the election because of it. New Jersey would be on a short list of states where gun control is popular. Virtually every state not bordering ocean is gun-crazy. I know of many otherwise populist, left-leaning Upper Midwesterners who are of the mind that "if they're gonna take my guns away, they're not getting my vote." With that said, I don't suspect the gun issue will be much of a factor this election simply because it hasn't been talked about, save for Kerry's jab at Congress for allowing the clock to run out on assault weapons ban. Perhaps it'll come up in one of the next two debates, but I hope not because Kerry (and any other Democrat) loses thousands of votes every time they discuss guns.

I'm gonna be gone until Sunday evening. I'll be looking forward to more optimistic poll data then.

Posted by: Mark at October 7, 2004 05:30 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Actually, if the gun issue comes up, it could hurt Bush more than Kerry. If Bush is asked about the assault weapons ban, which he claimed to favor, it could cost him votes. He has to say that he supported the ban, which could cost him votes. well, one can dream can't one ?

If Kerry is asked about it, he should say he supported the ban, but he should throw in a message about how strongly he supports the 2nd Amendment and believes it protects private gun ownership. That might do him some good.

I think the only states where gun control is popular are NJ, Hawaii, California, New York, Connecticut, MA, Rhode Island, possibly Maryland, Illinois and Delaware (and DC). And even in places like NJ, you'll see pro-gun types in rural areas. [ E.g. go to North West Jersey]

Posted by: erg at October 7, 2004 05:47 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

You know, FL probably wouldn't have happened if this country made Election Day a national holiday. In other countries, elections are usually held on a day when people don't have to work. Why not move Labor Day to Election Day during election years, so more people can vote, and vote more easily? It's really insane to have such an important event take place when so many people also have to work.

Posted by: pepe at October 7, 2004 06:11 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

NJ Republicans tried to repeal the assult weapons ban put into place by Democratic Gov. Jim Florio, when the Rs took control of the state government in 1994. A lot of their support came from the NRA and guns rights groups. Well, the Republicans accomplished a lot when they took over NJ's government, but repealing the assault weapons ban wasn't one of the things they got passed. There was an overwhelming outrage at the notion of repealing the ban, even hardcore Republicans told their state representatives at gatherings that they thought it was a really bad idea. So, the ban has stood for nearly 15 years now. It's seen as a crime fighting measure, and as I said is very popular, enjoying 80% popularity, which is extrodinary for any political issue. It's just a matter of most of NJ being an urban to suburban state. Assault weapons are seen as a threat to public safety.

Personally, I understand the case that licensed citizens should have the right to carry a concelled handgun to protect themselves. But, I don't understand why assult weapons that were designed for war situations and are designed to kill the maximum amount of people possible, should be legal in a society that's trying to be civilized. It just seems to go against the grain of a country that's truly interested in law and order in my opinion.

Posted by: Rock_nj at October 7, 2004 07:37 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Pepe, Election day is not on a Sunday or Saturday in our country for just the reason that you cite. It would be a huge advantage for the Democrats. Working people would be much more inclined to vote, as they do in other countries, being on a day off.

Posted by: Rock_nj at October 7, 2004 07:40 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Folks...good point on guns but I don't think that is why the Dems can't carry a southern state. Here is my opinion for what it is worth. It's about religion. The folks in the bible belt (AR, MO, LA, MS, ETC) are fairly religious. I'm not talking about the extreme right. Most folks from the south go to church on Sundays and are "god fearing folks". It's not guns..it's culture. It does not help the Dems in the south when the ACLU and Dem politians are in sink with issues like prayer in schools and the 10 comandments. In fact, look at the positions of most elected Dems take in these states. Most elected Dems in these take the same positions as the Republicans. That's why they get elected. That's why a Liberal Senator from MASS will not carry one of these states. Some polls will be close, but all of the "get out the vote" effort for the Dems will never overcome the "get out the vote" effort of motivated christians and nothing motivates a Christian more than to vote against a northeast "card carrying member of the ACLU" liberal. Yeah...some of it is about guns, but most of it is culture. Let's be honest...generally speaking(I don't want to offend anyone)the only white males in the south that vote Democratic for President are either gay, lawyers, artists, or union (we know what's happening to union membership). Another point...how do you think most of the wives of these guys vote? Kerry may win the election (I hope) but it will be without a single southern state.

If I may...I think the Dems made a mistake nominating Kerry. He is not a good canidate. When was the last time a sitting US senator from the NE won? In fact the last Democratic President elected that was from a state north on the Mason Dixon line was Kennedy. Until the Dems nominate a moderate southern Democrat(like Clinton)they will probably not win the highest office. I'm afraid the Democrats have ignored the south too long and now they are paying the price. You know what's funny? We're talking about Hilary in 2008. I'm getting a feeling that Osama is about to make an appearance in handcuffs on Fox news. Peace!

Posted by: bayoububba at October 7, 2004 10:19 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Regarding Rasmussen -- I understand the moving three-day average, but it would seem to me that if the numbers moved as one day, then two days of polling occurred after the veep debate, that means something.

Posted by: DM at October 8, 2004 12:14 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

You know, we talk a lot about polling statistics as if they were a lot more significant than they are. Similarly, a statement like "No Democratic nominee from north of the Mason-Dixon line has won since Kennedy" might sound impressive, but you are talking about how many data points there? Let us see:

Humphrey, MN, 1968
McGovern, SD, 1972
Mondale, MN, 1984
Dukakis, MA, 1988

That's right, four guys. That is not a real large base to generalize from. And if you look at each case, it is not hard to find nongeographical reasons why they lost. Who thinks a southern Democrat would have beaten Nixon in '72 or Reagan in '84? Not me.

And how much help was it to Carter in '80 or Gore in '00 that they were from the south? Not enough.

Finally, Kerry's northern roots may be worth a little something in New Hampshire, Maine, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and maybe even Ohio. People in the north are not above regional prejudices.

Posted by: Jerome at October 8, 2004 01:13 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

please...how many years are your data points refering too? Nixion in 72? I think that is most of the Presidential elections in the time frame you refer. That's 30 plus years! Keep discounting the south...that's why you're not in power now....keep nominating NE liberals...you'll loose every time! The powers in our party are stupid. We have to realize that we have to appeal to the southern male.....which, right now..thinks we're a bunch of weak homos (sorry). Our Senate leader (Dashale ND) is about to loose his job. If it makes you feel better... look at Zogby's polls. I think we all agree he is the most inacurate pollster out there ( he blew 2000). Please stop with the Kerry Crap. People in the south DO NOT LIKE KERRY. Ok...that was harsh..but look at Max Cleland. No arms...no legs...Vietnam vet..ass kicked by some pretty boy Reagan wanna be. Stop discounting the South...it's costing you the White House.

Posted by: bayoububba at October 8, 2004 03:13 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Good points Bubba. Cultural issues are really big in people's decision for President. I agree it's extremely hard for a nothern liberal to win the Presidency. Kennedy barely won. It comes down to who do you feel comfortable with. And Middle America and the South aren't comfortable with liberals who don't share their religious and cultural values. Like you said, some on the more liberal left have hurt the Dems with their Church and State arguements. It's a nice issue on principal, but a horrible issue at the polls.

Populist economic issues used to win the Democrats votes in the South, but for a variety of reasons they are far less of a factor now. For one thing, the Democrats aren't very economically populist anymore. The last law that came out of Washington that really helped that average working person was the Family Medical Leave Act and that was way back in 1993. The Dems support all of the Republican international policies like NAFTA, GATT, and wars for oil, etc. There's really not much incentive for a person to vote based on economics anymore. So, we've got the cultural divide where Southerners and Middle Americans consistently vote based on personal beliefs and cultural factors.

One point about morality. I don't think people really think about the issue of morality very much. I mean, I don't know what's terribly moral or Christain for a government to spend $200 Billion on overseas military adventures, while ignoring suffering at home? What's moral about war itself? I don't think if Jesus were alive today that those are the sort of policies he'd be advocating. He was a man of peace and brotherhood of man. The Republicans have preverted the teachings of Christ for their own political advantage, and apparently people are comfortable with those perversions. Such is life.

Posted by: Rock_nj at October 8, 2004 06:36 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Rock...many would argue that some wars are just and moral. I don't think any reasonable person would say the civil war, WW1, WW11, and the first Gulf war (ok....the last one was a stretch) were not justified and thus moral. In fact, the Bible clearly states that. This is the reason a large percentage of people from the south support the war even though WMDs have not been found. They think it is a just and moral war because???? They don't believe it has anything to do with oil. I think the republicans made a mistake on this. They have made it about WMDs. If they really wanted to take the issue away from us they would have showed pictures of the MASS graves of Sadam's enemies with all of the remains in clear view and tied in some old WW11 footage of the mass graves of the Jews. Then they would somehow (makeup)numbers of dead people. Maybe they could say 2 million? We need to give up on the issue of the War and focus on Bush's horrible domestic record. Let's face it...the Republicans own this issue. Everytime we disagree what happens? They paint us in a corner as weak and unpatriotic. Not a good place to be in the middle of a war whether or not we think it is just and/or moral. In the south, this brings up memories of the hippie protesters from the 60's and we know how popular they were in the south.

By the way...just finished watching the debate. I see Bush decided to play tonight.

Posted by: bayoububba at October 9, 2004 12:28 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

War is an immoral act. Thou Shall Not Kill is part of the Ten Commandments. It doesn't say Thou Shall Not Kill, unless in war time. Man has found ways to rationalize and justify war, and even to somehow make it moral, like in the case of WW2. Was it moral to fight against a madman like Hitlet? Perhaps, but the war cost over 50 million lives, and we were allies with an equal tyrant named Stalin, who killed a lot more of his own people than Hitler. So, the whole morality thing becomes muddled. Viet Nam was clearly not a moral war. The Viet Namese were fighting for independce from Western powers. They didn't want us there, and we wound up killing over 3,000,000 of them in our quest for imposing our way of life on them. An arguement could be made that some other power should have intervened to stop the U.S. slaughter in Viet Nam on moral grounds, just as we intervene in other countries on the same grounds. As far as the 1st Gulf War goes, the morality question is also very suspect. For one thing, we knew Saddam intended to invade Kuwaitt. He had threatened for months, and was building up troops along the border (while making threats). There was a historical pretext; the Iraqis tried to take Kuwaitt by force in the early 1970s, only to be repelled by the British. We even sent our Ambassador over to Iraq shortly before Saddam invaded and told him we don't take sides in Arab-Arab disputes. So, we essentially stood by and did nothing as Saddam threatened Kuwaitt, built up troops, and then ultimately invaded. Only then, did we show interest. I think the Gulf War was used by our leaders as an excuse to permantly station troops in that most important energy producing region of the world, and was also a convient excuse to continue reckless military spending after the Cold War ended. On top of that, the U.S. stood by as other larger powers invaded smaller powers, such as China invading Tibet and Indonesia invading East Timor. We also have done plenty of invading ourselves, as was the case with Panama just a year before Saddam invaded Kuwaitt. So, the whole moral case against Saddam falls apart. It was what most wars are ultimately about, control of precious resources.

There's an excellent book that was written in the 1930s by an American General called "War is a Racket" which explains pretty well why Western Powers are so eager to engage in war. It's available on Amazon. He makes two points: 1.) War is one of the most profitable ventures known to mankind and is therefore not avoided by the wealthy elites, who wish to increase their profits. 2.) The wealthy elites who really hold the reigns of power in the West, don't care about the average citizen of any country. What difference does it make to them if some working Joe/Jane dies on a factory floor in the U.S. or dies in a foreign war, either way they did in service to profit, which is all that matters to them.

I think war is used by our rulers for many many purposes. It's an excellent way to control the masses. Just look at our current War on Terrorism. Sure, we have to take Terrorism seriously. But, in the grand scheme of things, an average American is far more likely to be killed or maimed from a run-of-the-mill thing like a car accident or a routing trip to a hospital than by a rare terrorist incident. Terorism is a sexy issue, that frightens people irrationaly. The fact is you're a lot more likely to die while driving to work or while taking prescription drug that was incorrectly filled than to die from terrorism. But, don't let rationality get in the way of politics. The War on Terror means huge budgets for the right people and is a huge political issue. After all, what the hell would Bush be running on in 2004 if 9/11/01 didn't happen?!? He would be dead in the water, which is why we hear about terrorist threats during all the Bush Chenney stump speaches. They won't say, I'll save 10 times the American lives that were taken on 9/11/01 by making our highways safer or our drug dispension system safer, that's just not an issue that sells. Besides, terrorism doesn't only come from foreign quarters, we've had our own homegrown terrorism like Tim McVeigh. Why don't we just invade Kingman, AZ and northern Michigan where McVeigh and his cohorts planned their attacks?!? The War on Terror replaces the Cold War, and the party continues for the wealthy elites.

Posted by: Rock_nj at October 9, 2004 07:42 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Finally, Kerry's northern roots may be worth a little something in New Hampshire, Maine, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and maybe even Ohio. People in the north are not above regional prejudices.

Actually, Jerome, I read somewhere that OH has never voted for a New Englander for president--it even voted for Nixon over JFK, for what its worth. I do know (as a native Ohioan who no longer lives in Ohio but makes frequent visits) that Buckeyes tend to view people from the East and West coasts with much suspicion.

Posted by: pepe at October 9, 2004 08:39 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

As an independent and centrist, I'm not entirely happy with Kerry either. But there was frankly not that strong a field this time. Dean was unelectable (sorry, Deaniacs), Gephardt too old and tired, Edwards too fresh (in normal years, that might have worked, but not this year). GEneral Clark had the best resume, but he simply did not run a good campaign. The best resume on paper doesn't help if you can't organize a campaign.

To 'bayoububba', let me be blunt here. Lets look at the 3 wedge issues in the South -- Guns, God and Gays. There is absolutely no way the Democratic party should change its position on Gays simply to appeal to anti-gay bigots, whether in the SOuth or elsewhere.

As far as God goes, I think the Democratic Party position is absolutely correct. There is no way I would vote for a Democratic party that panders to the Roy Moore fans. Furthermore, the Democratic Party does appeal in the South to highly religious African Americans (90 to 10), and to religious Hispanics (2 to 1 in most polls). So its not like religious Christians have abandoned the party. And pandering to heavily religious Christian groups would almost certainly cost the Democratic party votes in many areas as well (Jewish votes, for instance).

We have in Kerry a man who is devout, regularly attends Church. That is fine with me, and if still have religious objections to kerry, you're not going to vote Dem anyway.

That leaves guns. I've said it before, and I'll say it again -- the Dem position on guns is a mistake.

One of the main reasons Clelland lost was because of the Confederate flag here. Again, I fully and strongly support the National Democratic party position here. In any case, changing its views on this would cost the Democrats African American votes.

Also, Clinton won, and Gore won the popular vote, not so much by appealing to the 'bubba' vote, as to the African American vote. African Americans loved Clinton (although I've never been sure why) and turned out in huge numbers for him.

Let me blunt here -- Screw the South for this cycle. They're not going to vote a national Dem candidate. But Gore nearly won despite losing the entire South. The south is also changing -- Virginia is close this cycle and in another 8 years, both Virgina and NC may be more competitive to a good candidate.

The real opportunity for the Dems is in the fast growing West. NM, NV, AZ are all likely to be swing states next time around (and AZ would have been one for this round). Hispanic population growth, big immigration from MidWest. Even in Texas the majority of grade school students are African American or Hispanics. In another 12 years, who knows if Texas could be competitive again ?

Florida is changing as well. Once a Republican stronghold, its now more up for grabs. The Jeb Bush influence may keep it in the Republican column this time around, but again the state is very evenly balanced. A good Dem candidate who can take the NorthEast, and the West Coast and Florida has a great chance of winning the Presidency.

PA and NJ are more immigrant dominated too. The Hispanic population grows in VA and NC. Forget 'bubba' -- he's on the way out too.

Posted by: erg at October 9, 2004 09:17 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Kerry did avoid talking about the war and focusing on the economy at first. It didn't work. The Repubs mentioned Saddam dozens of times at their convention, but never mentioned Osama.

I personally was moved out of my political apathy to vote solely because of the war --- which I think was the biggest mistake a US President has made since Vietnam. It would be irresponsible for Kerry not to point this out.

Posted by: erg at October 9, 2004 09:21 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Pepe and erg, There's no doubt that regional prejudices play into politics in a big way. I think Ohio, despite being clearly in the North has a lot more culturally in common with the South. Especially rural and southwest Ohio. It's just like rural PA. They're culturally conservative folks. The difference is that PA has a large metro area in the east that's a lot more liberal than the rest of the state. The counterweight on Clevland in OH just isn't the same as in PA.

So, I do think regional identification has a lot to do with politics. There are a lot of people in the northeast who sneer at voting for Southerners and there's a lot of Southerners who wouldn't vote for a Yankee. The Midwest has really been the swing region in recent American politics. They could go either way. They have a long standing liberal/populist economic tradition that is counterbalanced with traditional values (although traditional values seem kind of murky to me, like what's a good thing or value about pissing our money away on other countries like Iraq and what's good about killing people anyway?).

I agree that if the Dems could get a coalition with the American Southwest started, it would have major political implications for American politics. Then, the South wouldn't matter much as far as Presidential elections go. Remember, the Republicans won the Presidency many times since the Civil War without winning hardly any, and sometimes no, Southern states.

Posted by: Rock_nj at October 9, 2004 11:23 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

he Republicans won the Presidency many times since the Civil War without winning hardly any, and sometimes no, Southern states.

Yes, but until the past generation or so, the South did not have the political clout it does today because it was not nearly as populated as Northern states. You can be sure that for many years to come, whenever there is a census, the South will be gaining more EVs by taking away EVs from the Northern and Midewestern states. TX already has more EVs than NY, and the Lone Star State continues to grow in population. Before long, NC and GA will have more EVs than OH and PA, and VA will have more than NJ. The political power in this country is and has been gradually shifting South and West, there is no denying that.

Posted by: pepe at October 9, 2004 02:04 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

While we're speaking of Arkansas, I live TN and would point out that some recent polls here have been surprisingly close. I live in Eastern TN (a long time Republican stronghold in the state) and find there to be an unexpected amount of anti-Bush sentiment even here. I would be suprised if Kerry won TN, but not shocked.

Posted by: oddofme at October 13, 2004 03:43 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment