...busting up my brains for the words

Saturday, November 06, 2004

I was wrong

I believed with all my heart that Minnesota was going to go into the George W. Bush column by a razor-thin sliver. I was wrong.
I was also wrong when I claimed that W would win nationally in a landslide. But that's another story.
Minnesota voted for John Kerry, the Democrat, by 51.1% and for George W. Bush, the Republican, by 47.6%.

Those statistics are very close to being a perfect reversal of the national results which decisively re-elected W.

So while it was close, it wasn't what I would call razor-thin. The people of this state have made their wishes known. They don't approve of Bush's leadership and they preferred the Democrat for the next four years. Of course they didn't get their wishes realized.
I was prepared to gloat about this national victory, but the loss of Minnesota took much of the steam out of my engine. Insofar as my own mental health goes, I think this is the best for me, as I don't know if I would be able to stand myself from all the brimming-over self-righteousness I would have felt. It's more important that I remain balanced. Oh sure, if we had been successful in winning my state I imagine I would get over all the euphoria and simmer down...eventually.

Why did I believe with every fiber of my being that Minnesota would go with W, being such a tribal Democrat state as it is?

Because I'm gullible and because it was useful to believe it. Minnesota has a Republican Governor, a Republican Senator and many Republican Congressmen. Minnesota voted for a Republican presidential candidate in 1972.
Being the battleground state that it was, President Bush and several top Republican leaders from the national level came here to rally, all to dramatic effect. I still remember Rudy Giuliani telling us that to win, you have to believe you will win. I checked off that box with a big black sharpie pen.
But we also had Randy Kelly. Randy Kelly is a Democrat who put his party interests aside for the sake of his concern for the nation. This is a man, as I see it, who has assessed the question of the presidency in much the same way as I have. Kelly and I both understand that we cannot even address the questions of a liberal society if foreign threats are able to bring us low. Kelly was an enormous factor in my belief that Minnesota Democrats would choose W for president.
Minnesota is trending Republican. When I take all of these factors into account, it adds up to quite a force.

Now, the other side of the equation is that the Democrats were expected to work hard to defeat Bush.

But my firm conviction that W would prevail in Minnesota was based on the simple premise that supporters of Bush had fire in their belly for their candidate, while Kerry was universally seen as a weak candidate. That, I thought, would be enough to barely squeak out a win.
It turns out that the deeply tribal allegiances to the DFL in this state were enough to motivate Democrats in the Metropolitan region and the northern Iron Range to make their way to the polls on Election Day and vote for Kerry. Those tribal allegiances are reinforced by the blatantly DFL biased StarTribune newspaper. Scott Johnson of Power Line blog says that the Strib influences fully 5% of the electorate with their leanings.

The other factor that got Kerry most of the votes in Minnesota is, of course, Bush hatred. Working as an election judge last Tuesday, we saw many young people storm into the polling place only to spend enough time in the booth to make one mark and then submit their ballot. I think it's safe to say they were not there to vote for W. As a judge it was my responsibility to tell one of these young women that campaigning in the polling place is verboten and that she should zip up her front outerwear in order to conceal the image on her t-shirt. It depicted W and had the caption, "Not helping". She reluctantly complied, made her one mark and then submitted her ballot. She then joined her MoveOn friends who resumed their campaigning out in the streets.

I was wrong. I made a friendly bet with my bartender that W would carry Minnesota. I will dutifully pay him his winnings of $20. I might even buy a beer and discuss the election with him, making my loss even deeper in my pocketbook. After all, I don't have to feel humiliated, as W won the grand prize that is the White House. And we both win, as we live in a democracy that has just enjoyed the greatest participation of its citizenry in many years in this process. The people have prevailed.
We gave it all we had. It was a colossal struggle. And, as a regular volunteer and blogger fighting for W, I have no regrets. I can look at the results with calm and satisfaction that I did what I could. We shall take what we have learned in this election and apply it to the next campaign. That would be two years from now when Minnesota elects one of its Senate seats currently held by Democrat Mark Dayton.

We're going to win. I believe it.


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