Friday, September 19, 2008

Swing and Statis States

A quick note about my move from Connecticut to Massachusetts. While the two states have much in common (cruddy weather, hard to spell names, arugula), CT had the benefit of being a bit of a swing state.

The name "Swing" state became popular, IIRC, in the 90s to contrast with the red-blue split that pundits invented to make them sound intelligent. Red means Republican and blue means Democrat because, by some freaky coincidence, a number of the news networks decided to use these colors in their electoral maps. I remember when the colors were arbitrary based on independent decisions of the news editors, but when the hacks get a good hook they run with it, and now we're stuck.

Karl Rove and the millions who listen to him decided to press the "truth" that there was a red America (manly, religious, patriotic, land-locked), and a blue America (pansy, atheist, communist, coastal and/or cold). Yet there are some states that move between, 'swing' as it were, between being red or blue. These are the Swing States.

For those who depend on the red/blue dichotomy, the existence of swing states is difficult to rationalize. What makes it more difficult for these Manicheans, is that, if you look at a projected election map you'd see there are about 15-20 states that are credibly swinging. And, it bears to remind the uninformed voter, that there are only 50 states. Which means that if there are 17 swing states, that's one third of America. Which means that you can't really talk about red/blue without emphasizing that there's many places that don't identify as either.

I won't deny that there are some states that will never go "red" as well as those that won't go "blue." And there's a definite advantage to live in a "swing" state because the candidates will spend much more time, and make more crazy bribing promises, to pander to you.

And because of this dichotomy, that "swings" get all the attention while guaranteed reds and blues hardly get any, it suggests that red/blue is not that significant for analyzing an election while the swingy-ness is.

Hence my preferred dichotomy of Swing States (the 20 or so that could vote either way) and Static/Stasis States (ones that are reliably red or blue).

All of this leads to the contrast between Massachusetts and Connecticut. CT, being a swingish state (especially given McCain's popularity there), would mean that my single vote would matter in a national election. But now I live in Massachusetts. Which is as reliably a blue state as can be expected (1984 was a fluke).

My vote in November is basically useless. I should have kept my residency in CT.


ptjew said...

Here is what I say to your thesis style posts. Ha ha ha. I live in Michigan.

JC said...

Touche, ptjew.