Sunday, January 12, 2003

Small Town School-This semi-announcement of Bob Graham's candidacy got Billmon over at the Daily Kos started on a metathought
As usual, I've got forked tongue firmly in cheek here. But seriously: Sooner or later, the Dems are going to have to figure out a way to win without the South, and they might as well get started in 2004, since it's probably going to end up being a practice run, anyway. I will amend that slightly, by changing "win without the South" to read, "win without the South except Florida." Hard to do the electoral math without Florida. Which, I suppose, does put Graham a couple of cuts above all the other pasty faced Southern white boys out there. But (reinserts tongue in cheek.) it's like being forced to eat okra: sure, it's full of iron; maybe it is good for you. But it's also slimy and gross and tastes like ka-ka. Do we really have to eat it? What's wrong with iron supplements? Likewise, do the Dems really have to nominate Graham? Couldn't they just send John Kerry to "Southern School," teach him how to speak NASCAR, chew tobacco, stuff like that? OK, now that I've gotten that off my chest, some of our esteemed commentators can explain -- hopefully without using too much profanity -- why I am completely out to lunch.
Kos Billmon, it's not so much Southern School but Small-Town School. Assignment one is this David Brooks piece comparing a town in rural Pennsylvania to his Bobo metro DC digs. The Democrats do well in more secular urbanized areas and do less well in more religious smaller-towns; that is the Barone Hypothesis. A secular, bigger-government campaign may do well in the big cities, but doesn't do well in less urbanized areas. The South, with its relative lack of big urban areas and more religious population, is Red State territory writ large; only the big-city Northeastern transplants in the Miami-Palm Beach southeastern coastal strip in Florida keeps the South from being a Republican stronghold. However, those small-town values aren't just a southern thing; many states with a significant non-big-city population share those values of self-reliance and traditional moral values. A candidate who is out of touch with those values can be in trouble in Northern swing states like Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois as well as the prairies. A candidate that has to write off the South will be drawing to an inside straight to get to 270 electoral votes. Gore nearly pulled it off last time, but winning without at least some of the South is a tough order, for the candidate who has to do so has likely ticked off enough swing small-town voters in the north to make his job of getting to the White House well-neigh impossible. [Update-Billmon wrote the piece, not Kos. Billmon had forgotten to leave his calling card originally]

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