Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Election Day Special: Battleground Area Previews

From The New York Times:

CLEVELAND, Oct. 30 - The 2004 presidential campaign is ending as it began, focused with blazing intensity on no more than a dozen hard-fought states, [in a] tinglingly close contest between President Bush and Senator John Kerry....

A series of hairbreadth finishes could plunge the nation into treacherous straits, with lawsuits in multiple states, a far more complex prospect than the legal contest in 2000, which was confined to Florida. Several suits have already been filed. But the huge numbers of newly registered voters could confound all the forecasts.

Battleground-state previews by New York Times reporters follow [including Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, and more].

Other battleground areas not covered in the article

Hidden Valley Ranch

Almost alone in the West, Hidden Valley Ranch has traditionally been a place where Democrats can win federal office, but only if they slather their vegetables with mayonnaise-based condiments like Creamy Italian dressing. Even though President Bush carried the Ranch in 2000 by five percentage points, most of its line workers are Democrats, believing that a second Bush administration would result in their jobs being outsourced to Mexico, where dehydrated bits of carrot, used in virtually all of Hidden Valley Ranch's creations, are marginally less expensive. The President's love for his own ranch in Crawford has thus far failed to impress workers here, who insist that despite the name "Hidden Valley Ranch," it's actually more like a sweatshop in the middle of a dry, hot desert, without sufficient ventilation. This, coupled with mixed economic news -- one bottler lost a quarter in a batch of French dressing -- has put the Ranch in play for the Kerry campaign. Neither candidate has visited Hidden Valley Ranch since the summer's raspberry vinaigrette disaster, but President Bush's aides have put out word that the President enjoys Honey Mustard dressing on his dinner salads.

My Grandmother's Friends

My grandmother's friends remain intensely contested, with President Bush and John Kerry both hoping the other's supporters pass away by Tuesday. Wary voters among my grandmother's friends remain gripped by anxiety, due mostly to unrelated conditions involving the circulatory system, or a failure to remember to refill the psychotropic drug prescription in time. Radio and television have recently been flooded with advertisements from both candidates specifically targeted to appeal to my grandmother's friends. However, the radio volume doesn't go high enough for any of them to hear the ads, and the television is stuck on the Food Network, and no one knows how to change the channel. The Kerry campaign was hoping a visit by rocker Bruce Springsteen would help him gain last-minute support, but, no, no idea who he is at all. Each campaign says that turnout holds the key to victory. "Whose hip is going to last?" said one Bush aide. "And will they really remember that Tuesday is Election Day, or will they go to the foot doctor instead?"

The Ethnic Foods Section of the Supermarket

The traditional recipe for cooking up a region undecided does not fit the ethnic foods section of the supermarket. There are no farmers as in Iowa, blue-collar manufacturing workers as in Ohio, or Jewish Pat Buchanan supporters as in Florida. Instead, there's a mix of immigrants hoping to find foods from their native lands, retirees experimenting with a new cookbook from the library, young people imagining themselves to be among the cultural elite because they know how to make Pad Thai at home, the lost and confused, just looking for string cheese, and three stock clerks, moving the expired cans of fish product to the front so they get bought before the new ones. Several different recent polls have Mr. Bush ahead of John Kerry, but the lead changes every time Manischewitz releases a new flavor of macaroons and the Jewish population in the aisle increases dramatically. While in most areas, the war in Iraq and the economy preoccupy the voters, here it's dried beans.

West Dakota

Despite not existing, West Dakota is shaping up to a real factor in Tuesday's election. It's unclear which candidate will come out on top, due to a number of factors. First, the military presence here is enormous, through installations like Fort Snowpile, the United States Hail and Sleet Reserve, and NORAFD, the North American Fictional Defense Center. If Mr. Kerry does win here, it will not be a result of a final media blitz. There is no television market that reaches the residents of West Dakota. It will also not be because of his visits to the region; he has not visited. But neither has Mr. Bush, leading pundits to insist both campaigns are on equal footing as they try to capture the zero electoral votes up for grabs in this hotly contested battleground region.

The Magazine Section at Barnes & Noble

It's a highly fragmented population here in the magazine section at Barnes & Noble, with highly-entrenched camps staking out their ground in the Motorsports, Garden & Home, Popular Music, Alternative Lifestyles, and Children's shelves, just to name a few. Candidates have tended in the past to focus on only a few of these groups, ignoring anyone reading "High Times," since that's obviously a Green Party voter, and anyone reading "Highlights," because that's obviously either a child, or someone who won't be able to figure out how to use the voting machine anyway. "It's going to come down to that guy reading the guitar magazine," said one Kerry ground operative, "and the woman with the needlepoint guide." "Oh, and that guy trying to grab the porn without anyone noticing."

President Bush's Staff

President Bush's staff was not even supposed to be in the game at this point, and there is some argument about whether it really is. As recently as a month ago, it had been scratched off of most political strategists' list of battleground areas, expected to do once again what it had done in the last presidential election -- go Republican. But then John Kerry visited twice this week, with his message of international cooperation and lower deficits, and President Bush's staff has turned into the battleground that some hoped it would be all along. Republican officials say they think they can hand Mr. Bush's staff to Mr. Bush through the rural members. Democrats are convinced they can offer plum ambassadorships in faraway lands instead. But, lately, officials on both sides have been hearing two words from members of President Bush's staff that many of them have been trying hard to forget: Ralph Nader. He may end up taking it, against all odds.