Sunday, May 18, 2008

Realigning Election in Progress

With Senator Obama now the presumptive Democratic nominee for President, the old coalition of red states and blue states is due for a major shift. Exactly how this will occur and to what degree it will occur is a purely a matter of debate. I simply will not make sweeping predictions with six months to go before Election Day.

That being said, I've noted many optimistic forecasts, all proposing that even solidly red states here in the South might very well go blue in November. With Obama the first African-American candidate with a serious hope of winning the Presidency, I understand their rosy perspective, though I am inclined to discount it a little. Make no mistake, it would certainly be fascinating to speculate as to what 90% black turnout would look like on a major scale. However, whether that alone would be the deciding factor in the general election this November is a matter of conjecture and speculation.

As Obama himself pointed out in The Audacity of Hope, even many solidly red states routinely register 40% Democratic turnout when all the votes are counted. He's right. My home state of Alabama is a classic example of that old cliche: so close and yet so far away. A 60/40 split, according to the conventional wisdom, is about the best a Democratic candidate can ever expect here in a Presidential election. With Obama on the ticket, the inevitability of this usually sage bit of advice seems less certain. If the Black Belt counties (whose population are overwhelmingly African-American) turn out in record numbers then I believe that the GOP margin of victory will be far less than it usually is but I doubt it will be enough to overcome the votes of rural whites, who almost always vote Republican, no matter who the candidate is.

That being said, I think it is possible, although not likely, that usually reliable GOP states here in the Southeast could turn blue this November. It will be a daunting challenge for any Democratic candidate.

However, this time a year ago I would have never believed Barack Obama would be in the position he is in right now. Consider me cautiously optimistic but not holding my breath. Alabama is a state where President Bush still has a tremendous amount of popularity, due to the deluded notion of many residents that anything with an R after his or her name must automatically be purely good and anything with a D must automatically be purely evil.

If any southern state has a chance of ending up in the Obama column, it is, in my humble opinion, Georgia--because of its large population of African-Americans who reside in the city of Atlanta. The dynamics of rural vote versus urban vote are always in play during every election cycle and this time around we'll see it with a slightly different permutation than ever before.

I don't know how the general election will shape out in the end. Too many things could transpire between now and November, but what I will certainly stand behind is my belief that we are due for a shift in political polarity the likes of which we haven't seen in decades.

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