Election time close at hand

Published 2:02 pm Wednesday, October 29, 2008

By Staff
The Presidential Election is finally coming to a close. It has probably been an arduous and protracted process for many of you. However, for those of us who are political junkies, it is the most exciting day of the year. It is like the beginning of college football season, Christmas and 4th of July wrapped into one.
We will be unable to sleep the night before because of our excitement. We will peruse the last ads at 10 p.m. and watch Leno and Letterman get in their last shots. Early Tuesday morning, we will scan CNN and Fox to watch the expressions on the faces of the presidential candidates as they cast their votes in their home voting precincts of Chicago and Arizona.
This election, like the last three will be close. Therefore, it will be hard to predict.
Under the Electoral College process, this election really boils down to about seven battleground or swing states. The states to watch are Ohio, Florida, Missouri, Colorado, Nevada, Virginia and New Hampshire. If you have followed the schedule and appearances of the candidates they have stayed in these key states, with only an occasional foray into New York or California to raise money.
Indeed, Electoral College presidential politics is so scientific and predictable that these states' true swing voters can be pinpointed by their locale and demographic makeup. The candidates are concentrating on a suburban female in St. Louis, Missouri who calls herself a hockey or soccer mom, the commuter in the Tampa/St. Petersburg corridor of Florida, and moderate female voters in the booming picturesque areas of Chesapeake, Virginia and around the majestic mountains of Colorado.
The Hispanic vote is increasingly important as this is by far the fastest growing segment of our country. These voters are more prevalent in the states of Texas and California, but these two states may already be decided. California will vote Democratic and Texas leans Republican. However, the Hispanic vote may be crucial in the swing state of Colorado.
The most important enclave of the country may very well be the rural region of southern Ohio. These voters decided the election four years ago and they may do it again this year. Many experts predict that these folks, who more closely mirror voters in the South, will decide the election.
Obama and McCain have pretty much ignored us during the campaign. We in Alabama are considered a safe hardcore red Republican state. We have voted for the GOP candidate for president in the last eight presidential elections. It is a good bet that we will be 9 for 9 after next Tuesday. Therefore, the question is not whether John McCain will beat Barack Obama in Alabama, but by what margin? Most guesses are somewhere between 20 to 25 points.
There is predicted to be a large African American turnout in Alabama and nationwide because of Obama's historic candidacy. It will be interesting to see whether we have a reactionary concurrent white turnout.
Steve Flowers is a political columnist who served in the state legislature.