Tonight’s the big night. If you read this post last week, you already know why. The odds of O actually losing this race are somewhere south of one percent, I’d guess, but they’re not absolute zero. Remember, a poll taken in Arkansas’s Fourth Congressional District roughly 10 days ago had The One leading attorney John Wolfe by seven thin points with 17 percent still undecided. Greatest upset evah?
“I’ve raised less than $2000,” says Wolfe. “My biggest contribution was $50; my smallest was $0.44.” The money helped him drive his Ford Edge from his Nashville home over to Arkansas, and to pay for some penny apiece robo-calls. These supplemented the 3000 calls that Wolfe has made personally, “just talking to voters.”…
Two weeks ago, a convincted felon and frequent candidate named Keith Judd won 41 percent of the Democratic primary vote in West Virginia. He took seven counties away from the president. Reporters, conducting interviews at the polls, learned that voters were willing to support anyone who wasn’t Obama, no matter what he did. Vice President Biden even absolved these people.
The Judd comparison is extremely unflattering to Wolfe. He’s an upstanding citizen, and reasonable, with an “economic populist” policy agenda that could fit snugly on Dylan Ratigan’s MSNBC show. When I call Wolfe, he’s ready with a 10-minute monologue about the need to restore Glass Steagall, the unfairness of the bailouts, and the good that a transaction tax could do.
As usual, Jay Cost is thinking big picture:
The real reason [southerners] have bolted their ancestral political home has to do with the evolving shape of the Democratic party. Historically, it was a working class coalition of urban workers and rural farmers. That identity anchored the party really up through the 1960s. But then it began to develop a decidedly “New Left” ethos – turning decidedly leftward not only from cultural conservatism but also on middle class, quality of life issues (feminism, environmentalism, consumer rights, etc) that are of much more concern to “enlightened” liberals in the big cities than rural voters in Arkansas.
Think of it this way: Your average Obama voter on the Upper West Side might think the “SmartCar” is great, but a plumber working in Hot Springs would just laugh his you-know-what off if he saw a coworker drive up in one of those absurd vehicles. That’s a cultural/social/economic divide that our political parties mimic.
And so Southern whites in the Border South have found a home in the GOP. Again, not because of race but because there is a cultural and regional affinity to be found for these people in the Republican party. The GOP has long been home to rural people in places like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nebraska – so is not a huge surprise that, when the center of gravity in the Democratic party moved into San Francisco and Hollywood, these voters would join an alliance with people in Altoona, Pennsylvania and Aberdeen, South Dakota.
Do note, this is an open primary so some untold number of Republicans may have showed up today and requested a Democratic ballot just to mess with Obama. I’m a little surprised, in fact, that there’s been no concerted effort a la “Operation Chaos” to make that happen, but maybe it’s for the best. If there had, Wolfe’s showing would be blamed on GOP mischief. As it is, that spin will be a bit harder.
The polls close at 8:30 ET. I’m expecting Obama to win by 15-20 points; if he underperforms and his margin ends up being in single digits, conservative media will enjoy a Muntz-ian “HA-ha” tomorrow the likes of which we’ve scarcely seen. Here’s the Secretary of State’s page so that you can follow the returns. While we wait, enjoy Joe Biden blaming America’s economic troubles on the damned tea party that elected a Republican House and, I guess, stopped them from wasting who knows how much on a new stimulus package.