Friday, August 15, 2008

Another story about the rural vote, albeit somewhat in disguise as such

The New York Times comments in a story in Saturday's paper on Obama's failure to set up a campaign office in Arkansas. The headline, "Obama's Southern Strategy Omits Arkansas, So Far," hints that the story is mostly about the Clintons' links to the state, but a closer read reveals an analysis of the Arkansas electorate that makes them seem less open to Obama, in part because of -- guess what -- the rural (a/k/a white, a/k/a uneducated) factor. . .

Here's an excerpt from Shaila Dawan's story:
Obama campaign officials have made much of their desire to expand the traditional Democratic playing field into states like Idaho, Indiana, Missouri and Montana and have promised they will run a 50-state campaign. But in the red-bloc South, the campaign has begun a push only in Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia. It has offices in several Republican-leaning states that have three electoral votes to Arkansas’s six, leaving his supporters in this state to wonder, why not here?
Daiwan offers this explanation:

In Arkansas, unlike other Southern states, Democrats have maintained dominance by keeping white, conservative, rural voters — the ones that need the most convincing by Mr. Obama — in the fold. Arkansas’s population is whiter than the rest of the South; it is only 16 percent black, compared with 30 percent in Georgia and 21 percent in North Carolina. Its voters are older and less educated and include fewer transplants from outside the South.

She notes, too, that Arkansas has never elected a black to state-wide office.

Several political experts said this decision by the Obama campaign was predictable because Arkansas is expected to be "flat red" and is simply not in play in this election. One, however, puzzled over why Obama has campaign staff in Louisiana. He queried: “I don’t know what test Louisiana meets that Arkansas doesn’t.” Maybe that unknown, unstated "test" is the Clinton factor.

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