Not sure if this is an update, but I do want to expand on some of my ideas about the upcoming election. They are pretty common, but they might help establish some of my "diversions".

I do worry about the Democratic candidate trying to appeal too far to the left, or at least perceived by the general public as appealing to the far left. Of course, Howard Dean is the candidate at the front of my mind. Dean must be able to appeal to the swing voters who picked Nader (and Bush) in 2000, in addition to the moderates in the few southern states who could swing Democrat. Will the "extreme" left vote Nader again, or do they still feel the shame of thinking with their trees instead of their brains?

I think that the left is willing to coalesce under a single cause, with only one goal to remove George W. Bush from the Office of the President of the United States of America. This isn't the goal of some moderates, who only desire a relatively moral President with strong leadership abilities. I don't have a problem with candidates attempting to grab headlines during the primary season. I do hope that the national candidate (probably Dean) can keep the focus on the issues like 9/11 intelligence, WMD intelligence, education, and health care costs without resorting to statements that polarize the public like some of Dean's comments.

Josh Marshall touches on the subject of a closely divided nation with a quote from the current Cook Report:

The broader dynamics of the current situation strongly suggest this will be a close race. Witness a recent analysis by the Washington office of the investment research firm the ISI Group, pointing out that in Gallup polling one year before the general election, Bush enjoyed the third-highest job approval rating of any modern president among his own party members, trailing only former Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan. However, Bush had the lowest approval rating among members of the opposition party, even lower than former President Bill Clinton's year-out approval numbers among Republicans. The unusually strong approval numbers among his fellow Republicans builds Bush a very high floor, but the equally strong degree of opposition among Democrats constructs an unusually low ceiling. As a result, if Bush were a stock, he would have an extraordinarily narrow trading range. This, along with the equally divided nation, pushes the race toward a very competitive situation.

Juan Cole elaborates on that subject and references a Robert Sullivan Commonwealth article. It includes a very nifty map, and underscores my views about the necessity of the Dem candidate to appeal to the moderates more than the further edges of the playing field.

Robert David Sullivan, writing in The Commonwealth, has proposed a new political map of the US based on long-term county-specific voting patterns (there are about 3000 counties in the US), and divides the country into 10 regions on that basis. (Note that the map at his site is clickable and that version offers more details about the regions).

Sullivan argues that of the ten demographic regions he identifies, 5 voted Republican and 5 Democrat in the last election, although only three have always voted Republican for 35 years. Clinton won 6 in each election, but Bush only won 5 (the right configuration of the right 5). Bush's challenger is unlikely to be able to win with 5, and needs six.

Any Democratic ticket will need to make inroads into at least one Republican-leaning area, as well as keeping what Gore got in 2000. Believe it or not, I think such a ticket has a shot in Appalachia. Not in the Southern Lowlands or Southern Comfort, of course, which would be laughable. But Appalachia is a different kettle of fish. My family is from there on my mother's side, and I can tell you that foreign adventurism and spending $166 billion on Iraq when there was no real threat (from a man in a spider hole) could be very unpopular there if the pitch is made right. Appalachians are patriotic and do not like Northeasterners putting on airs, so some Democratic candidates would fare better than others. But if one of them could connect with people about how they are being screwed over by Bush's giveaways to the New York financiers and by his expensive foreign adventures (there are lots of schools in Appalachia that need paint), then the Dems might just be able to get this region. Hint: Bringing someone on board the Democratic campaign team who has won elections in Appalachia would help.


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