Swing State Confidential

October 21, 2008

It’s late in the campaign season, which means it’s time to start crunching the numbers.

While the election has the potential to be close, it’s important to look at those states that could go either way. These are the states that the candidates are focusing on, campaigning hard for, and, most importantly in the world of politics, spending boatloads of cash in.

Many media outlets foolishly create lists of a dozen or two states, claiming such ridiculous things like Delaware might actually vote Republican or Utah might swing Democratic. And they insist on using the slightly perverse “swing state” instead of the clumsier but more accurate “vacillating morons who can’t make a proper rational decision that aligns with their cultural and economic interests.” (Iowa, I’m looking at you.)

Here is a list of the most likely swing states for this election.

Nevada
Under normal circumstances, Nevada would be a lock for the Republicans. Otherwise, it’s a nice, solid conservative state, if you don’t count all the whores and rampant gamblers. This year, however, may be a realigning year. The unions have made themselves more politically potent, Nevada’s sizable libertarian sympathies are antithesis to many of McCain’s policies, and, more importantly, while a lot of people have lost money in their 401(k), even more lost money on the Giants-Patriots game.
For McCain: The anti-government types in Nevada hate both candidates equally, but the stuff they can get away with will force them to choose and probably be more inclined for McCain. They can get away with everything in the desert from free weed and Russian Roulette, but they can’t get away from the IRS.
For Obama: Whores and rampant gamblers vote.
Wild Card: “So, I hear yous is thinkin’ ‘bout votin’ for sumbuddy. Let’s see what Jimmy the Baseball Bat has to do to get yous to change your mind.”

New Mexico
New Mexico was one of the few states to actually switch sides between 2000 and 2004, voting for Gore in the former and for Bush in the latter. While it could possibly be a result of the growing socially conservative demographics in the state, or perhaps immigration fears, most likely it’s because it looked around, saw all the red states surrounding it, and decides to assimilate, something everyone else has been urging for quite some time.
For McCain: New Mexico is Arizona looking for the cool spot on the bedsheet.
For Obama: It is a legal uncertainty whether livestock can vote.
Wild Card: It’s a question mark how many people are willing to drive about two thousand miles to the nearest voting booth.

New Hampshire
Tiny New Hampshire, nestled snugly in New England, is an outlier in an increasingly liberal part of the country. Fervently anti-tax and mostly anti-government, they have a large libertarian streak which could break for either candidate. Also, there really isn’t anything else to do in New Hampshire besides shovel snow and care about politics.
For McCain: New Hampshire loves McCain. We’re talking open-mouth, call the next day love. They also hate older brother Vermont, so may vote McCain out of spite.
For Obama: Like New Mexico, New Hampshire is looking around a sea of blue and wondering if they’ve misplaced the memo.
Wild Card: It starts snowing in New Hampshire somewhere in July of last year, and while the residents are used to hostile weather, Health Savings Accounts and Campaign Finance Reform aren’t worth getting the snow tires on for.

Virginia
A southern state by trade, this is normally a lock for the GOP. This year, however, enough of northern Virginia has converted to the Democratic Party that it’s likely it will change sides. While it’s uncertain whether the combination of government workers, contractors, and service-related jobs will translate to a permanent change to swing state status, it’s reasonably certain to be close this time. Not like, say, Chancellorsville.
For McCain: Virginia is still, technically, the South.
For Obama: The Klan doesn’t pay above GS-10.
Wild Card: I’m pretty sure they still have literacy tests.

Ohio
The heartiest of the heartland, Ohio is usually quite conservative. Like its neighbors Pennsylvania and Michigan, however, they’re slowly rusting away, shedding industrial jobs to foreign lands like Greensboro, North Carolina, where “closed shop” means “this is a private supper club.”
For McCain: They look around at Buffalo, New York and Gary, Indiana and suddenly realize things aren’t that bad.
For Obama: Voters are not only angry about the economy, they also are angry about not having any professional football teams this season.
Wild Card: Never underestimate the power of the Amish or Browns fans.

Missouri
One of the traditional bellwethers of the United States, Missouri is often held up as a microcosm of the nation as a whole. They have a demographic makeup of urbanites, minorities, and religion very close to the nation as a whole. And aside from a brief fling in the 1950’s, when they were irresponsible and young, they’re always voting for the winner.
For McCain: Missouri is the south without being southern, and west without being western. Much like the blander items on the Denny’s dinner menu. In other words, all the items on the Denny’s dinner menu.
For Obama: The one time they voted the wrong way for president was when the candidate was an intelligent, thoughtful policy wonk from Illinois with only four years experience in elective government. Whoops.
Wild Card: St. Louis may be known for original blues music, but they also have a major league hockey team. You figure it out.

Colorado
Colorado used to be a solid, Republican state where residents went to church, build log cabins in their spare time, and regularly shot their breakfast. Unfortunately for the party, much of the growth in the past decade has consisted mostly of displaced hippies looking to smoke dope, start atheist churches, and pretend like they are saving the world but in reality making it harder for people to flush their toilets. As such, it’s become increasingly progressive, and this year may be the year it finally tips and just turns into one big ski commune.
For McCain: All the members of the Colorado Black Caucus were going to attend the convention, but he couldn’t make it.
For Obama: If there is any place in America where you’ll find a hunter crouched in the woods drinking a grande marble macchiato and listening to both Phish and Martina McBride on his iPod, it’s Colorado.
Wild Card: As far as I’m concerned, the ghost of Hunter S. Thompson lives on and is more than willing to beat the crap out of you regardless of your political affiliation.

Florida
After the fiasco that was the 2000 election, all eyes have been on Florida. While 2004 was thankfully and remarkably uneventful, it was also safe for the Republicans that year. Since Florida is equal parts tourist trap and real estate developer’s scam, they’ve been hit particularly hard by the real estate collapse and economic downturn.
For McCain: People tend to vote for candidates that are like themselves. And McCain—white-haired, suspicious of teh internets, and kinda creaky—fits Florida quite well. Also, get off the lawn.
For Obama: People are leery of voting for someone older than themselves. And, seriously, these people are like a thousand years old.
Wild Card: Old people can barely master the Dollar Value Menu, let alone the butterfly ballot. Hopefully everyone cancels themselves out and we can just forget about this state altogether.

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There Goes Another Candidate: Old Bats and Auto Workers, Unite! Edition

May 31, 2008

In an auspicious meeting of the Democratic Party, the leaders of the Democratic National Committee will meet with representatives from both of the major candidates for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to settle how the delegates from Michigan and Florida will be seated. This is, in the words of the DNC, is important, since “I can’t possibly imagine any other method that we could use so that we could drag this thing out any longer without actually resorting to suicide.”

For those unfamiliar with the situation, the DNC advised the states almost eight months or so ago that anyone who schedules their primaries ahead of an arbitrarily assigned date would not be seated at the convention. This was done, in part, to stem the primary system which was slowly creeping earlier and earlier each year as states tried to increase their influence in the nomination battle to the point where the election for 2008 started sometime around when the first George Bush was elected. It was also done to preserve the influence of New Hampshire and Iowa, the traditional inaugurates of the primaries, and of course both states accurately represent the demographics of current Democratic voters, and by all means we want to preserve that. (Cough, cough.) Effectively, those states that defied the schedule would have no official say in the nomination, thinking rather rationally that the race would be decided early December since the last time there was an actual honest-to-goodness challenge to decide on a leader was when George Washington hightailed it out of Philadelphia.

However, by scheduling their primaries early, they could have an easy symbolic say in who gets the nomination, since the election was going to be about one part votes and nine parts faction pandering and media fellation anyway.

(As an aside, the Republican Party avoided this entire mess by penalizing rogue states only half of their delegate count, exactly the sort of thing the GOP does well: come up with rational, businesslike plans for things that never need it, and ball up the things that do.)

Of course, things have changed slightly since then. With the nomination battle so close, all of a sudden the delegates from Florida and Michigan matter quite a bit. It matters, of course, because Hillary Clinton won them both rather easily—especially Michigan, where Obama wasn’t even on the ballot—and so those delegates would count towards her total to narrow the gap between herself and Obama. While she still would be behind in the delegate count, every step closer towards Barack is one less blind puppy she has to sacrifice to get the nomination.

There are two sets of opinions about the situation. (Okay, there are about two thousand sets of opinions about this, but only one will matter and that depends on the winner in November.) One is that everyone knew the rules going in, and those two states decided to ignore them. This is the political equivalent of the age-old axiom of “nanny nanny boo boo.” It’s not particularly fair to go back and change the rules unless you’re running for the Senate in New Jersey.

The other opinion is that this outcome—where one individual arguably has more support overall but thanks to a creaky, archaic system will be denied the victory—has too many shades of the 2000 election, when about three-quarters of the Democratic Party uses their endless supply of indignant rage to replace their Cialis prescription since they both roughly have the same effect.

So both sides are meeting this weekend to hash out a compromise about the wayward delegates. Some of the plans being floated are:

As proposed by the director of the United Auto Workers, he will go “talk to some guys I know” to “take care of” the problem by “talking” to Howard Dean, assuring that Michigan’s delegate vote gets counted.

Have the Detroit Red Wings fight the Florida Panthers to see who gets the delegates (proposed by Michigan).

Have the Detroit Pistons fight the Orlando Magic…oh, wait.

Have the Detroit Lions fight the Miami Dolphins (no one actually wants to see this).

Hope that one of the nominees gets assassinated by an Arabic national making the entire race a wash; thankfully, this suggestion isn’t in the least bit tasteless unless the brother of the person who actually was assassinated by an Arabic national forty years ago suddenly comes down with an inoperable tumor or something.

Awarding just enough delegates to build Hillary up, bring her right to the point of almost satisfying her, then suddenly stopping just short of doing so, in a show of solidarity for the important struggles facing women today.

Shuffleboard match (proposed by Florida)

Michael Moore will solve the entire issue by powering everything with his own sense of self-importance, the outcome of which will eventually incorporate the firebombing of the General Motors executive building.

Let Hillary’s plan be allowed, since this is the equivalent of patting your four-year-old on the head after she “helps” put up drywall in the basement by handing you the hammer.

Deciding on an effective compromise isn’t going to be the easiest thing for the Democrats to handle. It’s not simply about personalities or politics, and it’s not even about fairness or reality. It’s all about want you want to do more: disenfranchise blacks, or disenfranchise women? Yeah, good luck with that.