Saturday, November 13, 2004
The Great Red-State-Blue-State Hoax
I don't remember when the networks started reporting election coverage in terms of Red and Blue states, but by 2004, that cliché had become embedded into our collective consciousness.
CNN and Fox love this Red/Blue paradigm, because it makes life easier and more simple-minded for them, but as Ross Perot used to say, "...Folks, it don't work that way!" Or at least, I don't buy it.
Let's do a little thought experiment.
Imagine a "Red" state, in fact, imagine the "battleground state" Ohio, and think about the voting results. There were 2,796,147 votes cast for President Bush and 2,659,664 for Senator Kerry.
Now, one thing the exit polls don't tell us is of the almost 2.8 million who voted for Bush, how many were just barely convinced to vote that way. Likewise, how many of the almost 2.7 million Kerry voters just managed to bring themselves to side with the Senator? Let's assume that there were ten percent in each category.
This would mean that 545,581 voters are just barely on one side or the other of the divide. It would also mean that these half-million plus citizens would be likely to have a great deal in common politically. It would foolish to label them as either "Red" or "Blue."
Is this scenario far-fetched? We don't know if it is or isn't. The exit polls, or at least they way they have been reported, were not set up to be able to detect a spectrum, a continuum of political sensibilities among the voters.
But I have a sense that whether you're talking about individual voters or states, the truth is not binary, but in shades of Purple. Only the people at the extreme ends, the pure Reds and pure Blues, can't understand each other. The rest of us can get along tolerably well.