America has moved forward, work still to be done

Published 2:55 am Tuesday, November 11, 2008

By By Steve Flowers
Now that the dust has settled on the 2008 Election, let’s analyze the results. Barack Obama’s victory is being heralded as the awakening of the new America. The fact that an African-American can be elected President of the United States is groundbreaking and historic. It shows that America has moved remarkably forward on the race issue.
However, the country is still extremely divided among red and blue states. This election was not a realignment, but a further entrenchment of red versus blue. Electorally we are a nation of 30 red Republican states, 10 blue Democratic states and 10 swing states. The obvious observation is that there are more voters in the 10 Democratic and 10 swing states than there are in the 30 Republican states.
The swing states, which determine the outcome, voted for Barack Obama because of the economy, not because he was a black man. In fact, the country is in such dire economic straits that any Democrat would have won this race for the White House.
More people vote against someone or something than for someone. The boogie man theory prevails in politics. The boogie man was the economy and George W. Bush. It was inevitable that the Republican Party was going to get blamed for the abysmal economic debacle in which the country finds itself.
There are many parallels to this year’s Democratic tidal wave and Obama’s victory and the 1992 election of Bill Clinton. Clinton’s mastermind, James Carville, everyday evoked the mantra to his campaign staff, “It’s the economy stupid.” Obama and his team also stayed on message, “It’s George W. Bush and the economy.” It resonated among swing voters in the pivotal battleground states.
However, this was not enough to shake loose the hardcore red states like Alabama. The entire Deep South resoundingly renounced Obama and Alabama led the way. While our sister states of South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas voted for McCain on an average of 57 to 43, Alabama voted 60 to 39 in favor of the GOP candidate. We now have voted nine consecutive times, and ten out of the last twelve elections dating back to 1964, for the Republican candidate for President.
Alabama’s overwhelming rejection of Obama’s candidacy was deep, divisive and driven along racial lines. Every primarily white county voted for McCain, while every county with a black majority voted for Obama.
An interesting observation that I am surprised national journalists have not picked up on is that the locations of all of the landmark Civil Rights events, such as Selma, Birmingham and Montgomery, were carried by Obama last Tuesday. The historic irony is that African-Americans could not vote 50 years ago, but now 45 years after the passage of the Civil and Voting Rights Acts, their children and grandchildren voted for an African-American for President of the United States.
The entire Republican Party took it on the chin nationwide, but not in Alabama. We sent Jeff Sessions back to the Senate for a third 6-year term by a 63 to 37 margin. He is one of the ten most conservative U. S. Senators both fiscally and socially.
Our trend of voting for Republicans for state judgeships continued unanimously last Tuesday. Every statewide Republican judicial candidate prevailed. The Appeals Court Republican contingency of Bill Thompson, Beth Kellum and Mary Windom won with an average margin of 55 to 45. In the Supreme Court race Greg Shaw eked out a 14,000 vote win over Democrat Deborah Bell Paseur in an extremely close race that statistically ended 50/50. Both candidates spent over $2.5 million, which ranked it as the most expensive judicial race in the country.
The other nail biter occurred in the PSC race where Lucy Baxley and Twinkle Cavanaugh ended 50/50 with Baxley surviving by only 10,000 votes statewide.
One of the closest and most watched congressional races in the country occurred in the 2nd District of Alabama. Democrat Bobby Bright and Republican Jay Love fought to a 50/50 standoff with Bright emerging with a 1,800 vote win. This was an expensive battle royale with both national parties opening their purse strings to bring the seat home. The wrestling of a Deep South seat that has been in the Republican column for 44 years was a coup that the national Democrats are really crowing about in Washington.
Democratic State Senator Parker Griffith narrowly held on to the open 5th District seat being vacated by 18-year veteran Huntsville Democrat Bud Cramer.
Young Democrat Joshua Segall gave incumbent Republican Mike Rogers a scare in the 3rd District, garnering 47 percent of the vote. Rogers is probably vulnerable in 2012 after the Democratic controlled Legislature tweaks the lines in that district.
Speaking of the Legislature, many of them breathed a sigh of relief when Amendment One passed, which will help bail them out of proration at least temporarily.
See you next week.
Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His column appears weekly in 72 Alabama newspapers. Steve served 16 years in the State Legislature. He may be contacted at

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