Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Missouri Compromise of 2008

Now, I know Trouble Sells readers are not necessarily consumers of political narrative, but I feel that my blog should follow national trends and take a wide stance. If you are in love with humanity (but not people, as Edna Millay noted), then you surely can be lovers of political theater. And there’s plenty going on in that area with the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries.

Super Tuesday does not contain many real swing states in it, so it’s hard to extrapolate to the general election. Time and again, it also fails to achieve its purpose: anointing a frontrunner. The first Super Tuesday, in 1988, consisted of a bloc of Southern states that Al Gore (the old, centrist Al) was to sweep. Except Jesse Jackson won just as many, and neither was the nominee in the end. Although Jesse could then say, “I AM Somebody…who kicked Gore’s ass in Georgia.”

But let’s look at 2008, and check out last night’s map. (Yes, I drew a map in here!)

On the Republican side, it’s a hodgepodge, but there’s not much for Democrats to get excited about. McCain did not win many states that could be counted upon to vote Republican in the general. However, that’s actually a sign of his strength; he’ll get those states anyway, even if conservatives stay home in droves.

However, he failed to win Minnesota, which might make our contest there easier. He also failed to win Colorado, which, along with Obama’s win there, is an encouraging development in a rapidly Blue-ing state that will also host the DNC. Perhaps the best news is that McCain received only 1% of the vote in West Virginia in its three-way race, which suggests that state could be persuaded to return to the Democrat column with the right message.

I feel good about our chances against McCain.

The most amazing result in last night’s contest is Missouri. Often called a bellweather state in general elections (and I’ll pass on the history here, because Wolf Blitzer needs to fill some air time later), it was the recipient of much attention. However, on both the Democratic AND Republican sides, the result was within 1%. That’s insane. It also helps Missouri (the “Show Me” state) keep its mystique a bit longer. We have no idea who they like.

Happy political parties are all alike
I don’t want to say I have a preferred candidate on the Democratic side. I don’t get in the middle of Dem-on-Dem beefs. To borrow a phrase from MC Paul Barman, I think LL Cool J and Canibus are both fantastic. To borrow a phrase from VH1 News, the legend and the up-and-coming star are duking it out on the mic. And that’s as it should be. We know drama!

However, a keystone of political drama is spin. The Clinton spin is obvious — she won some big ol’ states, and solidly Democratic ones at that. Certainly, to do less would be failure for someone as well-known, and well-respected by party diehards, as she is. So, good work.

Here’s a possible Obama spin: he won in all sorts of places. He put together a coalition of many kinds of Americans. And, perhaps most interestingly, he did it with big margins. Clinton only won one state (Arkansas) with more than a 30% lead, whereas Obama accomplished that in eight states.

Obama also held down Clinton’s advantage in New York (where she won by 17%) while blowing out Illinois (where he won by 31%), meaning he actually got more delegates in NY + IL than she did. That’s fancy footwork.

And he did all this without the support of the “cultural elite” states that Republicans love to make hay about!

Keeping them in the Union
This leads us into the biggest news, which is the unforeseen Missouri Compromise of 2008. This stipulates that, west of the Mississippi, Hillary Clinton is entitled to all the former “slave states” and Barack Obama to all former “free soil states”. (See map.)

Missouri Compromise of 2008 (map)

(Moreover, in Nevada, the bit south of the parallel is where Clinton won, and the larger but less populous part of the state to the north is where Obama won.)

I’m not entirely sure what this means, but frankly, I find it a little troubling. The tally is this:

Clinton wins:

Obama wins:

Neither story is a slam dunk, but on balance, I’d say Clinton’s is worse. Her map is looking like Samuel J. Tilden’s, when what we need is another Franklin Roosevelt.

But as I believe — as many do — that the Democratic party’s past may be in the South, but its future is in the West, I find the geographic breakdown between these two candidates, the legend and the up-and-coming star, to be remarkable.

by Jack, February 6, 2008 11:54 PM | More from Election 2008 | More from The Damned Human Race

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