Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Red Acres

This morning on the drive into work, I heard an interview with Democratic consultant James “Mudcat” Saunders, known best for his background with the Clintons, and familiarity with how rural voters digest politics.

Suffice to say, Saunders claimed that despite McCain’s recent polling woes, Obama is struggling in the countryside, which was no shock as it’s has banked with the right for years. However, this year—with an unpopular Republican president, and a GOP candidate anxious to avoid mention of the economy—I’m curious how motivated rural voters will be this election.

That is to say, when faced with a choice between McCain and Obama, will these people bother showing up? If so, what is their motivation?

In 2000 and ’04, Republicans managed potent get-out-the-vote drive which unquestionably helped to elect Bush twice. This year, however, Dems finally seem to have learned from their rivals, and have honed their own voter drive machinery – both in new registrations (which have boomed for Democrats), and early voting proceeding in several states including Ohio.

But again, what—if anything—will nudge rural people out to vote in 28 days?

Will they forget the bad economy, and hold their noses to go with McCain? Will they set aside their cultural distrust of Obama, and support him? Or will rural voters just say “Screw it. What’s on TV tonight?” and stay home?

In my view, I’d wager the answer in 2008 will be a tie between held noses, and “Screw it” – neither of which are a ringing endorsement of McCain.

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