8:56 AM | Posted in , ,
While some political junkies have looked to the "swing states" to determine the direction of this election, I am taking a slightly different direction by monitoring the state of my birth.

Of the last 29 Presidential elections in which North Dakota has participated, only FIVE have seen the state vote for a Democratic candidate. The last time being for Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Suffice it to say, North Dakota should be a place the Republicans can right off as a guarantee. However, in the last few polls that have come from the state we have seen a race that is too close to call. Why is that? I would posit that a race this close in a state such as North Dakota just may herald an electoral disaster for the McCain/Palin ticket.

Back in 2004, John Kerry couldn't muster any more than 35% in the state:
Graphs provided by electoral-vote.com

Yet, in the polling conducted throughout this year a trend of McCain and Obama swapping very small leads has emerged:
Graphs provided by electoral-vote.com

Let's be clear, the chances of Obama picking up North Dakota remain slim and the addition of Sarah Palin to the ticket of McCain hasn't been sufficiently tested. However, the mere fact that Obama is competitive appears to me to be an indicator. If John McCain cannot trounce Barack Obama in a state such as North Dakota there are some dark clouds looming on the prairie and in North Dakota those clouds can be seen for miles!

I wrote about the phenomena of North Dakota politics back in April when Barack Obama visited the state:

I have always thought of North Dakota as a different political animal. These are a people who hold their political views close to their chest and their money even closer. While they consistently vote Republican for President, they have also provided Congress with an entirely Democratic delegation.

The lesson for North Dakota is that they are willing to vote for a Democrat, but that Democrat must stop ignoring the state and participate in the retail politics that it will take to get North Dakotans to vote for a Democratic President. Let us hope that this appearance heralds a new era in Democratic politics where we stop ignoring states such as North Dakota.

Also, back in February, I wrote in response to a story about political fundraising in North Dakota:

Politics in North Dakota is an entirely different animal than in the rest of the country or even here in Central Minnesota. It is not a matter of economic status as the article tries to hint at towards the end but rather a matter of culture and priorities. I have somewhat of a unique perspective on this subject having grown up in the area and having done some fundraising for the North Dakota Democratic NPL Party.

On Culture: Perhaps it is the prevalence of Scandinavian blood in the state which dictates that no matter what you believe, you mind your business and don't air your dirty laundry in public. This certainly extends into the political arena. Growing up, I don't know that I ever saw a yard sign or even heard people publicly discuss their political positions. It was one of those things, much like religion and family matters, that was kept to yourself.

That is precisely why it was such a culture shock to move closer to the Twin Cities where politics and political discussion rages on in a very public manner.

On Money: It seems to me, due to this culture of privacy, that North Dakotans detest putting themselves out there by giving even those they support any money. When I did fundraising, from a fairly reliable list of Democrats, it was almost as if we had the wrong list. It literally took every ounce of power to keep these people on the phone for an extended period of time. To top it off, North Dakotans hang on to their money more than perhaps any other people on the planet. It was rarely a situation where they didn't have the money but rather of not being interested in talking about politics with some stranger on the phone. This is a place where people driving Cadillacs are considered a little too flamboyant for our tastes.

If the Obama Campaign can continue paying attention to the state, he just may have a shot at one of the reddest states in the union. For North Dakotans, its not a matter of being wholly conservative but of demanding that anyone they support damn well better pay them some attention.


1 Response to "North Dakota As Electoral Indicator..."

  1. LJFEIER On September 6, 2008 at 3:48 PM

    Oh, I really hope you're right!