Is there a precedence to the weird American even divide?
September 16, 2004 9:29 PM   Subscribe

Is there a precedence to the weird American even divide?
posted by the fire you left me to Society & Culture (14 answers total)
Um, the 2000 election?
posted by alan at 10:15 PM on September 16, 2004

are you serious?
posted by bob sarabia at 11:45 PM on September 16, 2004

roughly 250 years worth, yes.
posted by ChasFile at 11:50 PM on September 16, 2004

There have been close elections before, yes, such as 1880, with a gap of merely 2000 between the candidates in the popular vote (Garfield pulled it out in the electoral college, though).

The even divide, if you will, seems to be a symptom or marker of something else -- a transitional phase. The country is trying to decide on a direction and hasn't made up its mind. We'll have to see if these even-divide predictions hold up on election day. I think there is something to the red/blue states business; the US has historically been much more regionally divergent than it was for much of the 2nd half of the last century. Sometimes the 19th century presidential maps look positively Balkan.

That regionalism is again transcendent is probably not a good thing, overall, but it does pose a cultural challenge. Two nations united by a common frontier, if you will.
posted by dhartung at 12:35 AM on September 17, 2004

chile had close elections, with a fiercely divided electorate (although there was a significant third party). the leftist candidate won by less than 1%. the right organised a military coup. so good luck.
posted by andrew cooke at 5:17 AM on September 17, 2004

Close "horse race" elections sell papers and advertising time. If the elections weren't close, we'd have to manufacture them to be close so that people would watch the maximum amount of television and buy the maximum amount of newspapers and newsmagazines in the months before the election, so that maximum prices could be gotten for maximum numbers of ads. You see? Everyone benefits! I am only sort of kidding.
posted by jessamyn at 6:25 AM on September 17, 2004

When you hear that a party is "moving to the center", this is the result. They go just far enough from their core ideals to win an election. If both sides follow this strategy, it should end up evenly split.
posted by smackfu at 6:53 AM on September 17, 2004

I would like to think it's a sign that people are rejecting the false dichotomy between the candidates and that it's really apathy that's being read as a dead-heat, but I know it's exactly the opposite.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:26 AM on September 17, 2004

isn't this what's supposed to happen in a democracy? you've got two parties that are trying as much as possible to get elected. they're going to converge on the same policies, reflecting the "typical" voter.

it's unfortunate that the typical voter is pretty dumb, christian, supports an agressive foreign policy etc etc, but you're getting pretty much what you deserve (unless you buy the elitist "stupid people in kansas" attitude, i guess, in which case presumably you advocate a benevolent leftist dictatorship).
posted by andrew cooke at 8:05 AM on September 17, 2004

unless you buy the elitist "stupid people in kansas" attitude

How about "stupid people everywhere?" If they'd just let me be global dictator for ten or fifteen years, I'd have the whole thing sorted out.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:16 AM on September 17, 2004

unless you buy the elitist "stupid people in kansas" attitude

Stupid is a harsh term, but Republicans do have nostaligic agrarian values that are less useful for navigating the contemporary world than urban values.
posted by goethean at 8:44 AM on September 17, 2004

If you asked someone like Wendell Berry, I suspect he would tell you that the Republican platform and certainly many recent Republican policies are, in fact, agrarian valued. Not that he would tell you that the democratic values are clearly superior. But I think it may well be the Urban/Heartland split is far more about perception than it is policy.
posted by weston at 9:08 AM on September 17, 2004

Argh. I suspect that Wendell Berry would tell you that very little about the Republican Platform....

And to illustrate this point: given your average rural to semi-rural community, if left in charge, who do you think would change it into strip malls and housing developments faster -- Republicans or Democrats? Who would develop more city parks?

Whether this is urbanization of sub-urbanization is an interesting discussion, but it's worth noting that California (some would say it's the state that invented suburbia) is a "blue" state right now...
posted by weston at 9:11 AM on September 17, 2004

What I simply can't believe is that there are supposidely people out there that havent decided whom to vote for yet!!! Amazing. What are they looking and waiting for?

I've been reading a lot and many elections in the past were just as heated, nasty, and partisan as this one. This is not unique at all. But unfortunate to say the least.
posted by aacheson at 1:09 PM on September 17, 2004

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