Sunday, February 22, 2004

I was reading an essay by a local liberal columnist. He added to the myth that Northeasterners are "unelectable" as presidential candidates. Being from this region is "the kiss of death" according to him. I'll skip the idea of being "unelectable," which is one of the most insipid and vacuous phrases in present political discourse.

The myth simply doesn't square with those pesky fact thingies. The major party losers in presidential elections in the last 55 years and their regions and states are as follows:

1952: Midwest (Stevenson, IL)
1956: Midwest (Ditto)
1960: West (Nixon, CA)
1964: West (Goldwater, AZ)
1968: Midwest (Humphrey, MN)
1972: Midwest (McGovern, SD)
1976: Midwest (Ford, MI)
1980: South (Carter, GA)
1984: Midwest (Mondale, MN)
1988: Northeast (Dukakis, MA)
1992: Wherever GHW Bush came from
1996: Midwest (Dole, KN)
2000: South (Gore, TN)

In the last 13 elections, only one (Dukakis) major party loser came from the northeast. Two, if you accept that George Bush the elder came from Connecticut. In more than half of those elections (7), the loser came from the Midwest. Yet the stereotypes go: the Northeast is a bastion of liberalism and intellectual snobbery and the Midwest is the heartland, with its traditional values. Northeasteners are out-of-touch elitists while the Midwest is home to good old fashioned Middle America and the so-called "swing voters" politicians lick the boots of.

Admittedly, being labeled "out of the mainstream" is hardly the worst thing one can be accused of. Especially considering what's mainstream nowadays. But can't the "accusation" at least have some basis in reality?

This would make another interesting essay topic: how myths become accepted simply because they're repeated often enough.

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