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Facing South on the election

There’s an excellent series of posts over at The Institute of Southern Studies blog Facing South that I wanted to point to that provide interesting perspectives on what will have an impact on Tuesday.

* Will African-American voters decide the election? The Democratic Party has rightfully assumed that blacks will always “come home” to the party on election day, reliably voting Dem despite a sizeable chunk of the constituency supporting marriage amendments and opposing abortion. The Republicans are THAT bad.

The last two weeks of the campaign have only helped Democrats, with racial controversies surrounding such high-profile GOP candidates as senate candidates Bob Corker and George Allen undermining GOP overtures to cross race lines. As columnist Tonyaa Weathersbee argues on Black America Web:

[The racially-coded ads against Harold Ford in Tennessee] ought to bug the hell out of black GOPers. Because while Democrats may take the black vote for granted, unlike Republicans, they rarely, if ever, stoop to exploit racial prejudices to get votes when the going gets tough.

The question is whether these controversies will quell or merely deepen what New York Times reporter Ian Urbina described as “disillusionment” among African-American voters.

Will black voters simply stay home in key states where there were voting shenanigans (issues with registration, broken machines, long lines after polls had closed — can we say Ohio?). That NYT article cites a Pew Research Center finding that blacks were twice as likely to have little or no confidence in the voting system, that figure was 15% in 2004, 29% now.

* Poll finds opposition to war growing in the South, which documents the shift in support for the military action in Iraq. It explains why we’re seeing the race-baiting, the homo-bashing and general desperate thuggery by Republicans as election day draws near.

The GOP’s support is hanging by a thread when the real issues come to the fore.

*** 57% of Southerners believe the U.S. “should have stayed out of Iraq,” compared to 44% who think the U.S. “did the right thing” by taking military action. Nationally, 58% of the public believes the U.S. should have stayed out and 43% now agree with military action.

*** By at least one measure, Southerners are more frustrated with the war than their counterparts in other regions. Asked if they were “proud” or “sad” about Iraq, a surprising 62% of respondents in the South said they were “very sad” about the course of the war, compared to only 56% in other regions of the country. Only 10% of those surveyed in the South say they are “somewhat proud” or “very proud” of the Iraq mission –- slightly less than those polled in other states.

* In Another reason to watch the South, Chris Kromm brings up a less-discussed but highly relevant aspect the election that can have profound effects on equality — 6,000 legislative seats are up for grabs in 46 states this year. Republicans control both chambers in 20 states; the Democrats, in 19 states.

The states with a narrow GOP majority in the state legislature: Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wisconsin. Democrats have narrow majorities in Colorado, Maine, Montana, Kentucky and North Carolina.

That’s a frightening thought for gay folks in the Tar Heel state, because our Dem majority is all that sits between us and a marriage amendment. If the GOP gained control, a amendment bill wouldn’t die in committee (as it has three times), it would pass and get on the ballot.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding