Thursday, January 31, 2008

Rural Places, Presidential Politics and $$$

A story in yesterday's New York Times focused on North Dakota -- in particular the fact that the state's populace are the lowest per capita political donors in the country. Journalist Monica Davey doesn't reach any clear conclusions on why this is but does note that North Dakotans (presumably like many others in "fly over" states that don't hold very early primaries or caucuses) would like to have the candidates actually come visit their state, and they don't like the idea of "bribing" the candidates by donating money.

My favorite line of the story is a quote from the chair of the political science dept. at the University of North Dakota, Mark S. Jendrysik: "A lot of people look sort of askance at all the money that’s been spent in places like South Dakota.” He also explains that campaigning in North Dakota is about "personal meetings with candidates," which is what one might expect from a largely rural state where people tend to know each other.

Davey notes that Republicans hold most state constitutional offices, while North Dakota's two Senators and one congressperson are all Democrats. Again echoing that familiarity/lack of anonymity them, Davey writes of the U.S. congressional delegation from N.D, "People here know them. They bring money home to North Dakota. They drop by a lot."

Davey again quotes Prof. Jendrysik: “Even for a statewide political campaign, you have to get to the lutefisk feed *** Putting commercials on TV is not going to work. And there’s a feeling that you shouldn’t be doing the fund-raising, that it’s somehow corrupting."

OK, this sent me to find out, once and for all, what "lutefisk" is! In any event, the NYT story also reminded me of a post I saw on The Daily Yonder a while back. It listed the 50 rural counties that contributed the most money to Presidential campaigns in the third quarter of 2007. Not only was no North Dakota county on the list, many of the counties in the top 20 were not counties that I consider authentically rural. They include, for example, the counties that are home to Aspen, Colorado, Jackson, Wyoming, Nantucket and Edgartown, Massachusetts, and Key West, Florida. But the list also included some places that are probably more traditionally rural, such as Jasper, Tennessee and Ada, Oklahoma.

Indeed, here's a plug for the Daily Yonder's coverage of the Presidential election in relation to rural places and issues. See their Racing for '08 archive.

1 comment:

Shauna @ Ohio State said...

This made me laugh! I am from the Fargo, ND/Moorhead, MN area, and I was FORCED to eat lutefisk before I could open my Xmas presents! That stuff could remove tar from your car. Stay away from the lutefisk (lefse is delicious, however). I also am routinely asked to say things like "hotdish" and "bars" and "ya sure, you betcha" due to my "funny" Minnesota accent. On another note, I will have to do some thinking about the political funding issue...