by freedom78, Fri May 09, 2008 at 10:34:42 AM EDT
Is Indiana in Play?
I'll admit it. The prospect of a Democratic candidate for the Presidency picking off the Hoosier state gets me a little bit excited. And while I often think of my home state of Indiana as among the reddest of the red states, I believe it's entirely possible that Indiana could go blue this November. I'm not saying it's likely. It's not. But there's a chance, and if there's a chance that we could even force McCain to waste precious time and resources on a state that should be declared in his pocket by 6:01 EST, on 4 November, then we've won an important battle.
Seven Reasons Democrats can Carry Indiana!A few assumptions and facts that could lead to a blue Indiana.
#1: Barack Obama Is Our Nominee
I don't say this to insult the Clinton supporters still fighting for their girl, but to simply lay out the most likely scenario.
Candidate Obama carries with him some serious implications. First, despite being the most loyal of Democratic voting blocs, black voters have never gotten out to vote in numbers that make them a force in Presidential politics. Indiana is NOT a heavily black state (2005 estimates had the black population around 9%). But Indiana blacks have been a disproportionately small piece of the voters who turnout. In 2004, when black turnout was higher than ever, they still only amounted to 7% of the Hoosiers who voted (according to CNN exit polls).
But a black candidate could, potentially, break all records for black turnout. Imagine the power that black voters would have if they simply turned out at the same rates as their white counterparts! It's a small part of the population, but moving them from 7% to, say, 10% of the voters...that could be huge!
#2: Hillary Clinton is the Vice Presidential Nominee
Why? Because putting her on the ticket is the most obvious way to bring the party together quickly, and to ensure that as many of those Hoosiers who voted in the Democratic primary as possible will be voting Obama/Clinton in November. They are supported by different demographics, and combining those demographics would ensure a November win, even if they don't carry Indiana. Combining Obama's support among blacks, upper income whites, and the college educated with Clinton's support from blue-collar voters, women, and Latinos...that's unbeatable!
#3: Indiana Just Chose a Female for it's Democratic Nominee for Governor
This is important. It gives Obama a chance to "make peace" with female Hoosiers by supporting a strong woman for Governor. It's just one of many steps Obama can take to make appeals to women voters, who he'll need to beat McCain.
#4: Things Will Continue to Go Poorly in Iran and in the Economy
I hate to count on things going poorly in our country, but that's what's happened, and I don't see much reason to believe anything will change by November. Oh, I'm sure we can count on Bush to tap the strategic oil reserve in October to lower prices and help McCain, but Iraq will have killed God knows how many of our troops, we still won't have caught or killed bin Laden, people will still be losing their jobs, and McCain will still support helping the rich over the poor.
Indiana really is a mix of the four states that surround it (Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky, for the geographically challenged). That means it's hit hard by recession and the loss of manufacturing jobs. People here will be ready for some serious results to help the working class, and it's going to be a tough sell to say that John McCain is the guy to provide that help.
#5: It's Not Clear How Red We Really Are
Let's be honest. For Hoosiers, John Kerry wasn't "our kind of people" in so many ways. So I'm hesitant to use a 60-40 result against him as reason to despair about our chances in 2008.
Now, Obama has yet to fit comfortably in that Midwestern, blue collar atmosphere. But unlike Kerry, who tried so hard and failed ("Lambert Field," a clearly brand new hunting jacket, etc.), Obama laughs off the differences and reminds us that that's what makes America great. How else can a black guy from Chicago play it?
And before Dubya came, the "redness" (it's like a rash that won't go away, really) of Indiana wasn't clear because of the effect of Ross Perot on the elections of 1992 and 1996. Dole and Bush I got under 50%, here, and Bush I, who campaigned during a sluggish economy, didn't crack 43%. There's a case to be made that the sluggish economy (affecting swing voters) and some who are less than enthusiastic about the Republican nominee could have a serious effect on the outcome.
#6: Opposition to McCain among Conservatives
McCain has two choices. He can pander to his base, which will turn off independents who've bought into the false meme of McCain as a rogue and a maverick who does what he believes rather than toeing the party line. Or, he can deal with the fact that the GOP base has also bought into that theme, and that they don't like him because of it. It's a tough choice, because he risks losing the great American middle, which he surely needs in an election where the deck is already stacked against the GOP, but he also risks strengthening a challenge from his right by alienating the base. This is NOT an election like 2004, where pushing divisive strategies will rally the base to the point that they can overcome many negatives. The negative issues for the GOP are just too many.
So what will McCain do? He's got a tough fence to straddle to pull this off. And if that challenge comes from the right? Well, it only takes a plurality to win!
#7: Did You See How Many Voted Democrat in the Primary?!?!
Did you? Well, if you didn't let me share the number with you:
That number is three hundred thousand more votes than John Kerry got in the 2004 general election in Indiana.
Kerry lost Indiana by half a million. That's an enormous margin for a state this size (I'm now hitting myself for playing into the "Indiana's a small state" meme...we're actually 15th largest, last I checked!). But this primary beat Kerry's general total by 33%.
It is more votes that George W. Bush got in Indiana in 2000!
Let me repeat that: Democrats just got more primary votes in Indiana than George W. Bush got here in the 2000 general election.
Now, for the sake of honesty, 18% of the voters said they wouldn't vote for Obama come November, and 10% of the voters were Republicans. Where these numbers truly lie is debatable. I'm not going to write off all 10% of that Republican vote as "Operation Chaos," because I guarantee you that there are thousands of Indiana Republicans who are frustrated with how things have gone. And I'm not betting that all those Clinton supporters, who currently say they won't support Obama in November, will carry through with that threat. It's also impossible to know how many voted in the Republican primary because they wanted to vote in other races (the anti-Dan Burton vote at my precinct was considerable!).
Some of those voters will be lost. But at worst (18%), Democrats still have over a million primary voters who're planning to vote for the Democratic nominee come November.
Bush won 1.25 and 1.48 million Hoosier votes in his two elections. If those numbers slip for McCain and rise for Obama/Clinton, then Indiana is in play.
In all honesty, it will take the perfect storm to make Indiana a blue state in November. But hey! Some of us have to vote here anyway, right? We might as well try! And it IS possible. If McCain gets that 1.2 million votes that Bush got in 2000, that's a number that a united Democratic party can reach. And if McCain gets less...oh, it's game on!
Let's get out there and win this thing!
Update [2008-5-9 15:28:31 by freedom78]:Since some are getting all in a huff because I based this on Obama as the nominee, let me just add that if Obama and Clinton were switched in #1 & #2, I think the effect would be largely the same.