Saturday, March 8, 2008

One More Reason Obama is the Right Choice for Democrats: Nebraska Goes Purple

I was leaning towards Obama all through last year, but skeptical of the "cult of personality" that seemed to be accumulating around him; Hillary's work in the senate had really impressed me, despite the fact that the Clinton circus drives me up the wall. So, I waited until Iowa, and then I watched his victory speech.

I kind of got a little choked up, and what I realized is that inspiration, in and of itself, isn't something to be cynically tossed aside, like I'd been doing; and that in fact, it's not Obama's otherworldly brilliance that impressed me, but his normalcy. It's almost as if politics squeezes the normalcy out of a person, almost inevitably, but in Obama we have a chance for a politician who's still kind of a regular human being.

Of course, Hillary's actions post-Iowa only cemented my feelings: Bill's disgusting outbursts blew my mind, and her campaign's dismissiveness of all of Obama's wins was bafflingly idiotic. Putting aside my deep reservations about electing a former first lady (are we freaking Argentina?) and the establishment of American political dynasties, that dismissiveness of red (or small) states struck me as reason enough to vote for Obama instead: not only is ignoring, say, Wisconsin a terrible strategy for winning the White House, it also serves to hold down the Democratic slate in other races. It's something Kos calls the "50-state strategy," and it's absolutely essential to overturning the Rove-created juggernaut of solid red states and entrenched 49/49 national splits in national elections, and in breaking through in state and local elections in traditional Republican strongholds. Now, we have some proof of how this might look in the general election against McCain in the fall.

Survey USA has compiled polls from individual states pitting both Clinton and Obama against McCain, and the results are fascinating.

First up, the hypothetical Clinton-McCain matchup:

Clinton ekes out a victory, grabbing both Florida and Ohio, which seems kind of far-fetched to me, but whatever. Now, here's Obama's map:

It's not only a more decisive win, but a more interesting and safer one: he brings it in without either Florida or Pennsylvania. And what, pray tell, is all that stripey business going on in my home state of Nebraska?!

If you're not familiar with the Cornhusker State's strange governmental practices, not only do we have a kooky unicameral legislature, since 1996 we also split presidential electoral votes by congressional district. It's never been tested in the three elections since then, because all three districts (1-Lincoln & Eastern counties, 2-Omaha, and 3-the Western 2/3 of the state) have always been reliably Bushy (or, uh, Dole-y).

But not only does the SurveyUSA Nebraska poll puts a potential Obama/McCain matchup at only 42-45% statewide, rendering the whole state a "tossup" (!!), it actually shows Obama beating McCain in both CD1 and 2: 44-42 in Lincoln, 45-43 in Omaha, compared to Clinton's 31-59 and 30-54 losses in both districts. This would give Obama 2 of NE's 5 electoral votes. Not only is it mind-blowing, considering Nebraska had the 2nd highest margin for Bush in 2004 outside of Wyoming (that's right, more than Texas), but also, strategically, it's rulebook-shattering: it's easy to imagine another close election where one or two electoral votes might make the difference, and if a couple of those might come from Nebraska, all bets are off.

Who knows what could happen between now and the election in November; these points could be completely moot. But I do know that Hillary Clinton offers zero hope whatsoever to rewrite the rulebook about how national elections work in the US, and would serve only to reinforce the same old red state/blue state dichotomy that the Rove strategy has proven to win, every time.

And sure, McCain seems like a good guy, but a) if he appoints another Scalia like he says he will, fuck him, and b) you know for a fact he'll govern more conservatively than he, uh, senatored, considering everybody's watching out for him to be "too liberal," so he'll overreact to the right. Plus he'll pick a far-right dipshit to be his VP and then probably die in office, giving us President Ridge or (shudder) Huckabee. You can respect his war service (and sense of humor) without wanting any of that crap.


ZippyBippy said...

I love you, but I just can't. Sorry.


Nicole Szuch said...

I have been trying to find way to leave you a comment and your web page will not load on my computer! boo! hehe. But seriously, I grew up in Walnut Creek and listened to you every night on Live 105. I want to find a way to get your mashes so that I can have them on my computer, are you putting a CD out with them? I would love to have them, including the amazing "boulevard of broken songs" and "every car you chase" thank you very much for your time and I am sorry i went about this in such a roundabout way. Please email me though. thank you.
Nicole Szuch