A couple of thoughts on getting out of your zone.
I live in Bush country (insert Steve’s inevitable joke here). While Atlanta is as cosmopolitan as any Southern city gets, complete with a liberal-lurching local editorial page, an outright leftist alt-weekly, and a sizeable number of yards with “War Is Not The Answer” signs, John Kerry has about as much chance of carrying Georgia as I do of being selected Miss America. With the possible exceptions of Louisana and Kentucky–and I would call the Dems’ odds there very slim–the same goes for the entire South. From that perspective, it’s been a bit difficult to take seriously the last month’s wave of doom and gloom (or joy and celebration, depending on where you stand) regarding Bush’s reelection chances.
Then I went to New York City last weekend. Whoa, Nellie.
If you’re a “Red stater” and haven’t spent any time in “Blue” country lately, you might owe it to yourself to take a trip and listen carefully. Actually, you don’t have to listen all that carefully, since the invective is flowing hot and heavy. Swap the name “Bush” for “Clinton,” and you could just as easily be in Birmingham or Dallas circa 1994. “Hate” might be too mild of a term to describe the feelings I was hearing in NYC at one random stop after another (and that doesn’t even count the priest I overheard in Schenectady–no kidding). There wasn’t always (or even often) a lot of logic or accuracy in the myriad charges and accusations making the rounds, but there’s no denying the intensity of the antipathy roiling around up there.
Does any of the above mean Bush is a sure loser in November? Not remotely. New York is one of the most reliably Democratic cities in the nation, and it’s hardly surprising to hear a Republican president getting a Bronx cheer in that part of the country. Clinton was no less despised in the South when he ran for reelection, and he still won that race handily. But the GOP braintrust had better have their numbers crunched and their ground game in place for those states where the margins are slim. If they think they’re going to make any headway in the “dark blue” states, they’re kidding themselves.