As this election cycle has played out, it has proven to be not only a battle between the political parties, but a battle among celebrities, moonlighting as politicians, as well. In the Left Corner, we’ve got the Hollywood elite – the George Clooneys, the Alec Baldwins, the Martin Sheens, and the Michael Moores. In the Right Corner are the Nashville Country Music stars – your Toby Keiths, your Clint Blacks, and your Alan Jacksons. While in past years, the role of celebrities in campaigns has been largely ceremonial, this year it is much more profound.
Michael Moore has largely shaped the message for John Kerry and the Democrats – focusing their efforts on spewing hatred at President Bush, rather than bothering to spend any time developing any actual ideas of their own.
Toby Keith’s song, “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” is a largely symbolic, but by-and-large accurate portrayal of the feelings of many Americans, especially those in Bush Country.
Now this nation that I love has fallen under attack.
A mighty sucker punch came flying in from somewhere in the back.
Soon as we could see clearly through our big black eye,
Man we lit up your world like the Fourth of July.
Hey Uncle Sam put your name at the top of his list,
And the Statue of Liberty started shaking her fist.
And the eagle will fly,
And there's gonna be Hell,
When you hear Mother Freedom start ringing her bell!
It's gonna feel like the whole wide world is raining down on you...
Brought to you courtesy of the Red, White and Blue!
Oh, Justice will be served and the battle will rage.
This big dog will fight when you rattle his cage
You'll be sorry that you messed with the US of A
'Cuz we'll put a boot in your ass
It's the American way.
Out here in California, the influence of country music may take on an even larger role, and California Republicans may prove the beneficiaries of Alan Jackson’s hit, “It’s 5 O’clock Somewhere,” provided of course we can learn from our past mistakes, and take be prepared to take advantage of situations should they arise.
Despite the media’s instance to keep calling the Presidential election a “horserace,” it’s starting to look more and more like Clinton/Dole in 1996. The President is starting to pull away in some key Battleground States. Since early August, the President has gone from down 7, to up 3 in Florida. He’s gone from down 6, to up 6 in Ohio. He’s gone from down 12, to a dead-heat in Pennsylvania. Missouri, Arizona, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nevada are all showing a dark reddish hue.
So, what if this trend continues? What if by election day, Kerry’s only support comes from New England, New York, and California – though each of them by a much smaller margin than once thought? What happens to California if as the first returns come in from the East Coast at 5PM Pacific, the Eastern Seabord is a long red streak?
If we are ready, it could mean a big swing back towards balance in Sacramento.
Think back to 1996. Clinton was routing Dole. Throughout the day, tv and radio reports in California made clear that all the exits showed Clinton ahead. Then, as 5 o’clock came around, and the first results started coming in, it was clear – Clinton was going to be re-elected.
GOP turnout plummeted. Those who usually vote after work, those who live in commuter districts, those Republicans in rural California who we count on to complete the fishhook – they didn’t make it to the polls.
And why should they have? Dole was our top of the ticket guy, the reason that most Republicans bothered to go vote in the first place. And if he was getting his butt kicked, the motivation to make it to the polls became nearly nonexistent. And while Dole didn’t exactly have a stellar shot at taking California in the first place, the repercussions of that depressed GOP turnout were dramatically felt down-ticket.
That year we lost 4 seats by less than 1000 votes. In AD26, Dennis Cardoza (D) beat Thomas Berryhill by 86 votes! In AD43, Scott Wildman (D) beat John Geranios by 192 votes. The awful Loretta Sanchez beat conservative hero Bob Dornan by 984 votes in the most notable race that year. Just up the road from there, George Brown (D) beat Linda Wilde by 996 votes. It was a depressing year for Republicans. 3 more seats were lost by the GOP by less than 7,000 votes. Republicans barely held onto 3 other seats by less than 4,000 votes.
Fast-forward to the present. There is ample reason to speculate that history could repeat itself, and the California GOP could stand to benefit in a big way by a Bush blowout – that is, if we have our act together.
Lets assume that the returns in the Eastern Time Zone Battleground states all have the President winning. Democrat turnout is hurt throughout the day. Then, at 8:00 EST (5 Pacific), the returns from Florida, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire all have the President winning. As work lets out, and rush hour begins, voters will hear about nothing but the Bush blowout. This will excite Republicans and depress the Democrats. After an hour of hearing this, Dem turnout will have spiraled downward into oblivion.
If this scenario, or anything remotely resembling it plays out, the onus then is on Republicans to get every last Republican, no matter how low-propensity, out to the polls. If we’re ready with phone calls, precinct walkers, and knock and drag efforts – we could push Republican turnout in key areas around the state. Robo-calls from the Governor and other GOP celebrities urging them to make it to the polls and help be a part of history re-electing the President could be made every 15 or 30 minutes to GOP homes who’d yet to vote. This has nothing to do with swing voters or with convincing Independents to cast their ballot for a Republican. We wouldn’t be fighting against opposing values; at this point we’d be fighting apathy.
In 1996, we lost control of the legislature because we weren’t ready at 5 o’clock. If we’re ever going to take this state back, this November will be key. And when the returns start coming in at 8 PM back east, showing the President cruising to re-election – we need to keep in mind that “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.”