Saturday, May 3, 2008

Minor concern about Obama's electoral map

It's clear that Obama and Clinton are looking at different strategies should they become the nominee. In a recent campaign memo, Obama HQ (aka Hope Central) declared that it would be looking to win using with swing states such as North Carolina, and "New States" such as Montana, Texas and North Dakota.

Leaving aside the hilarious notion of a Democratic candidate winning by way of Texas and North Dakota, the most remarked-upon piece in the memo is the absence of Ohio and Florida. Many people have been, to say the least, surprised, because these states have many electoral votes and are within the grasp of Democratic candidates. Granted, Obama runs far behind Clinton in head-to-head matchups against McCain in those two states...but that doesn't keep them from being important and obtainable states.

There's something I'd like to add however, particularly on the subject of Ohio. In the aftermath of the 2004 election, there was a great deal of anger at the machinations of Ohio electoral officials, particularly under Secretary of State Ken Blackwell and Governor Robert Taft, both Republicans. Attempts to stifle the votes of minority groups who traditionally vote Democratic certainly gave Bush an advantage in what would end up as the fulcrum of 2004. This was certainly a stain, especially in the wake of Florida Secretary Katherine Harris's antics on behalf of Bush in Florida, 2000.

It seemed that Ohio was trending slightly Democratic and would be a good "add" to the column (don't remember similar feelings about North Dakota back then...) So, as good Democrats, we all put some extra special effort into changing the situation in Ohio. More or less explicitly to end such shenanigans, Democrats put one of their own in the governor's office, and the secretary of state's office. If nothing else, we can be sure that the 2008 election will be held fairly in Ohio. We can expect that "vote caging" will not be happening, and we can expect and equitable distribution of voting machines. In Ohio, the votes will be counted and the voters will count.

So what does Obama propose to do, skip a state that is not only within Democratic reach, but will be governed fairly. Personally, I would rather compete on fair ground instead of states whose elections will likely be held under "Zimbabwe Rules". Wonder what gives Obama such confidence that they won't cheat him...

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