September 30, 2004

state electoral trends: MO, IL, IN

Next up, Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. Illinois is the odd one out, trending blue while the other two trend red. Interesting that Indiana and Illinois have a similar track through 1984, and then they split off in opposite directions. It's also interesting that both of these states have relatively smooth trends, without the back-and-forth zig-zagging that most states show, even those with an overall trend. Missouri has been oscillating around the national average, never going more than two election cycles in the same direction. If that pattern holds true this year, it could be good news for Kerry.

state electoral trends: IA, MN, WI

There's a lot of handwringing on the left side over the polls coming out of these states. Of course, the worry is that any or all of them, which went for Gore in 2000, may go for Bush this year, making Kerry's electoral math that much more difficult. But the angst is compounded by the impression that these are supposed to be "solid blue" states. And the main reason for this impression is the fact that all three have gone Democratic in each election since 1988. So if Dukakis, who got an electoral spanking, could carry them, then they must be Democratic bastions, right?

Well, the graphs show what's going on. Compare them to the other northern tier states diaried below. It's the same Democratic bubble that peaked in 1988 from the Dakotas to the Pacific coast. In most of those other states, the trend made prior Republican blowouts into mere decisive victories. But in these one-time swing states, the 80's phenomenon created the salad days of Democratic dominance. Minnesota is a slight exception in that it started from a more strongly Democratic baseline, but the pattern is still evident.

Since 1992, Iowa and Wisconsin have both hovered around the national average. Minnesota slipped into that range four years ago, though in each case the Nader factor may be exaggerating the reddening of the landscape. In any case, all three states belong in the battleground category now.

September 29, 2004

state electoral trends: OK, TX

Parks takes another drink and starts to sing off key
There's not a man around the fire big enough to shut him up
And in the cold morn he's singing, "Hey Okie,
tell Arkie Texas found a job in Californ"
And everybody around the fire cracks up
- Bill Morrissey, "Barstow"

state electoral trends: NE, KS

Kansas and Nebraska up here. Not much to say except to quote Kate Nelligan from Margaret's Museum: "The world's a bad place and it's getting worse."

state electoral trends: MT, ND, SD

These three states are good examples of the Democratic trend, mentioned in earlier posts, in the northern tier of the western 2/3rds of the country during the 1980's. In the case of these states (as well as Idaho, Wyoming, etc.), the effect wasn't so visible because they still voted for Republicans during this time. But it's the same pattern that made states like Minnesota and Wisconsin go solid blue (an identity that they are perhaps now trying to shed).

The other interesting point is the spike in South Dakota for native son George McGovern, and the mini-spikes in the neighboring states.

September 26, 2004

wedding bells ring in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia legalized same-sex marriage on Friday. This is the sixth part of Canada to embrace equal marriage rights (following Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, BC and the Yukon), so there were no raucous celebrations like we had here in Massachusetts back in May. But there were a lot of happy, relieved, proud couples whose struggle made this day possible. At the top of that list are the named plaintiffs in the case: Ron and Bryan Garnett-Doucette, Ross Boutilier and Brian Mombourquette, and Kim Vance and Sam Meehan. Mazel tov!

Opposition to the decision was muted. The Tory government balked at the chance to challenge it. Justice Minister Michael Baker said "We certainly did not want to waste taxpayers' money." A few Tory backbenchers and the Archbishop of Halifax voiced their opposition, but with more an air of resignation than defiance. They also managed to stupendously, if unintentionally, destroy the biblical argument against equal marriage rights:
"It's just that I don't agree with it," said Shelburne MLA Cecil O'Donnell, who voted against extending government benefits to same-sex couples back in 2000. "It's my biblical understanding on gay sex marriages."

Fellow backbencher Mark Parent, a Baptist minister who represents Kings North, said he had great concerns over where the ruling might lead.

"In the Old Testament, you know, polygamy was the practice," he said. "So how do you then say that polygamous marriages are not valid and that marriage should be two people to the exclusion of all others? On what basis do you make that argument?"

It would be nice if another result of this decision were another nail in the coffin of the image of the Maritimes as an intolerant and ignorant cultural backwater. It's true enough that intolerant and ignorant folk are easy to find from Halifax to Halfway Cove. But they're just as easy to find in Kitchener and Kamloops. Nova Scotia was the first province to pass a same-sex domestic partnership law, in 2001. More broadly, it was the only province in which the NDP outpolled the CPC in this year's election. Those factoids don't make Nova Scotia, or the Maritimes in general, a progressive paradise. But they do, or should, blunt the popular image of the region as a collection of Petes and Joeys from Goin' Down the Road. Here's how Kim Vance put it:
"I think Nova Scotia is a province of tolerance," she said. "There are bastions of conservatism and people who would oppose this, but for the most part we're a pretty respectful group of people."

I think that's about right.

September 25, 2004

state electoral trends: AZ, NM, CO

Here are three states that are more or less in play this year:

Arizona's steady Democratic trend since 1980 is clear; the slight tailing off in 2000 could be the Nader factor. New Mexico has been just a shade more Republican than the national average for the last two elections. Colorado's pattern actually resembles that of the other northern tier states, showing a pro-Dem bubble during the 80's.

state electoral trends: ID, UT, WY

Well perhaps the one thing you can say about these three states is that they probably can't get any more Republican; there's nowhere to go but up.

Notice too that these states fit the pattern of the northern tier of states that trended Democratic during the Reagan/Bush I dynasty before they shot down to historic low levels of Dem support.

September 20, 2004

state electoral trends: HI, CA, NV

Continuing with the state electoral trend analysis in the post below, here are three more states to consider: Hawaii, California and Nevada.

Hawaii and California have become more solidly Democratic over the last quarter century, while Nevada has gone from swing state to Republican bastion back to swing state again.

September 19, 2004

state electoral trends: AK, WA, OR

Here's the first in a series of graphs showing the voting patterns of each US state since 1960. I've taken the Democratic/Republican margin of victory (excluding 3rd parties) and charted its deviance from the national margin. Each score represents how much more or less Democratic the state voted than the country as a whole that year. Thus a +5% for East Dakota in 1988 would mean that, had Bush I and Dukakis tied in the national popular vote, The Duke would have taken ED with 55% to Poppy's 45%.

This formula is far from perfect, but it does reveal some interesting patterns here and there that might otherwise be overlooked. Each installment will cover two or three geographically related states; I tried to group them by similar political cultures, but in some cases there are some oddballs thrown together. Today is the Pacific Northwest: Oregon, Washington and Alaska (click for enlarged view).

Alaska, clearly the most partisan of the three states, has been on a general Republicanizing trend since LBJ's landslide in 1964. Washington has been on a more modest track in the opposite direction, albeit with a Republican dip in the Carter years, and Oregon has done some unpredictable zig-zagging.

Notice, though, how all three started trending more Democratic after 1976, peaking with Dukakis. This pattern is repeated across the northern tier of the US from the Pacific to the Great Lakes. I'm not a historian or political scientist, so I can only guess at the causes of these fluctuations, but I'm guessing that the contruction of the Alaskan oil pipeline in the 70's had something to do with that state's sharp Republican turn. And the Democratic trend in the 80's may be related to the collapse of the family farm and the related trickle-down pillaging of the heartland. Farm Aid and that kind of thing. But these are guesses. Supply your own.

What do these pictures tell us about November 2nd? Nothing we don't already know, I suppose. Alaska is solid red, Washington leans blue, and Oregon is the swingin'-est place on the West Coast - though keep in mind the Nader factor.

Next up: Hawaii, California and Nevada.

dè tha “sinn” a’ ciallachadh, Kemo Sabe?

Bhon Anchorage Daily News, seo pìos de agallamh comhla ri Natalie MacMaster:
Q. How do you distinguish Cape Breton fiddling? What does it mean to you?

A. Cape Breton is Scottish in origin. It's more traditional and rooted in Scottish tradition. The dance style is different (from Irish Celtic dancing). We do speak Gaelic, but Scottish Gaelic dialect is different from Irish Gaelic, and that influences music; music sounds a lot like the language. Gaelic has a lot of throatal, rough sounds -- not a pretty language -- and the music reflects that too. We say it has lots of dirt in it.
Nach neònach gu bheil cànan a tha cho garbh, grànnda aig tè ghrinn, bhòidheach mar Natalaidh.

September 16, 2004

the dream world of Dion McGregor

Dion McGregor (1922-1994) was the world's greatest somniloquist. Whereas most sleeptalking consists of a few mumbled words or phrases, McGregor produced full-fledged narrations of his dreams. He not only talked in his sleep: he shouted, laughed, crooned, and screamed (actually the screaming was the wake-up stimulus). We know about him today because his roommate and songwriting partner, Mike Barr, spent several years taping these early-morning outbursts. In 1964 they parlayed these curiousities into a record and a book of transcriptions. More recently, two cds of McGregor's dreams have become available: 1999's Dion McGregor Dreams Again (Tzadik 7404) and the just-released Further Somniloquies of Dion McGregor (Torpor Vigil TVI-CD03). Here's a transcribed sample of a cut from the latter cd, entitled "Food Roulette":
Turn it around, turn it around. Spin that lazy susan and everybody take what they want off it. Hurry! Hurry! Grab it grab it grab it grab it grab it! We're playing food roulette! Food roulette! Yes, there's a poisoned eclair on there. We have a poisoned eclair on there and somebody's gonna get it. Now.... Spin it spin it spin it. We don't know which one is the poisoned eclair! There are a hundred and thirty on there.

. . . .

I'll go first - WHEE! - I've got my eclair. Ha oo hee ha. Okay. Everybo-- next person, get your eclair. Grab it quick before it stops. Before it stops spi-- Oh, don't take two! Greedy thing, what do you want to die? You want to die?

. . . .

No, you can't all play, you can't all pla -- look at that line. It stretches way down the road, way down the road. People are so adventurous. Oh, people are adventurous now, I mean to tell you. Hurry up! Get in and get your poisoned eclair! Poisoned eclair! Take your chances.
As producer Steve Venright says, "If you listen to just one cd this year by an eloquently deranged sleeptalker who's got a thing for mangoes, make sure you listen to The Further Somniloquies of Dion McGregor!"

sociopathic columnists

Here's how the New York Times' main page summarizes today's op-ed pieces:

• Dowd: Pre-emptive Paranoia
• Wolfowitz: A Threat to Freedom

I've never really thought of Maureen Dowd as paranoid, pre-emptively or otherwise, but I guess sometimes you never really know about these things.

September 06, 2004

put a medal on the man

Judging from the Swift Boat Liars for Bush and the speeches from the RNC, it seems the right wing only values military service when it is a) unquestioning, and b) life-threatening. Kerry clearly transgressed a) with his antiwar activities upon returning home, and the GOP is working overtime to undermine his claims to b).

Meanwhile, in Iraq, there are over a hundred thousand soldiers with good claims to b), which would explain why they are so beloved on the right. In these jingoistic times, "support the troops" means putting more of them in greater danger (and with them, of course, many more Iraqi civilians).

I find a little Phil Ochs always helps as an antidote to the warmongering high. This song's dedicated to Zell "I Wish We Lived In The Day Where You Could Challenge A Person To A Duel" Miller.
Is there anybody here who'd like to change his clothes into a uniform
Is there anybody here who thinks they're only serving in a raging storm
Is there anybody here with glory in their eyes
loyal to the end, whose duty is to die
I want to see him, I want to wish him luck
I wanna shake his hand, wanna call his name
Pin a medal on the man

Is there anybody here who'd like to wrap a flag around an early grave
Is there anybody here who thinks they're standing taller on a battle wave.
Is there anybody here like to do his part
soldier to the world and a hero to his heart
I want to see him, I want to wish him luck
I wanna shake his hand, wanna call his name
Pin a medal on the man.

Is there anybody here proud of the parade
who'd like to give a cheer and show they're not afraid
I'd like like to ask him what he's trying to defend
I'd like to ask him what he thinks he's gonna win

Is there anybody here who thinks that following orders takes away the blame
Is there anybody here who'd wouldn't mind a murder by another name
Is there anybody here whose pride is on the line
with the honor of the brave and the courage of the blind
I want to see him, I want to wish him luck
I wanna shake his hand, gonna call his name
Pin a medal on the man
Medal on the man