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US Presidential Elections of the 1890s

York or California—even by the narrowest margin of popular votes—a candidate will win all of that state’s thirty-three or fifty-four electoral votes. As a con- A FLAWED INSTITUTION 363 sequence, the Electoral College greatly magnifies the political significance of the large electoral vote states—even out of proportion to the millions of voters living there. This is even more the case should a large state also be a swing state—one thought likely to go either way in the presidential election. 2. Candidate strategy is shaped and determined by these distortions

, Colorado was a swing state in the 2012 presiden- tial election. President Barack Obama won the state with 51 percent of the vote. Legal pot won with 55 percent—the same margin as in Washington State. In April 2013, for the fi rst time in polling history, a Pew Research Poll said a majority of Americans—a 52 to 45 percent margin—supported legali- zation of marijuana. Sixty percent of respondents said the federal govern- ment shouldn’t enforce federal marijuana law in states that legalized pot for medical or recreational use. Yet that same month, the White House Offi

Fortieth Street and Madison Avenue: Depew and Vanderbilt were there. So was Bliss, Mayor Strong, Roosevelt, and half a dozen other dinner guests from the night before. But Porter had invited only one of the presidential contenders: William McKinley. Porter, it had been widely assumed, was pro-Harrison. His dinner revealed that this was no longer the case.2 It is perhaps not too much to suggest that in less than twenty-four hours, McKinley had emerged as the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination. New York was not only a pivotal swing state when it

seemed every California activist I knew was in a swing state trying to elect John Kerry. It is now customary for out-of-state activists to help election campaigns across the nation, from a gay marriage ballot measure in Maine to the recall of Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker. To be sure, the rise of the Netroots was not the sole reason for increased electoral activism among progressives; rightward shifts by the Republican Party also raised the stakes in state and national elections. But new-media tools have greatly fostered progressive electoral activism by

on discrediting people of faith who signed on with Kerry.”83 As Kerry’s religious outreach faltered, the RNC was fi elding a massive Catholic mobilization eff ort that included a staff of paid fi eld coordinators, 3,000 volunteer Catholic team leaders, and 52,000 fi eld volunteers. RNC head Ed Gillespie coordinated a swing-state speaking tour for well-known Catholic Republicans. The RNC collected directories from Catholic churches, reanimating a technique that had been successfully used to build lists of Republican-leaning voters for the religious right. It

destined to prevent George W. Bush from being re elected for a second term as president—until the Right was able to demonize and largely neutralize Moore and his message. Meanwhile, a group of Vietnam War veterans, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, managed to damage his Democratic rival with a series of excoriating television advertisements, which accused former navy lieutenant and medal recipient John Kerry of being a liar and a traitor. They were never eff ectively rebutted and proved to be crucial to Bush’s victory, particularly in the swing state of Ohio

starting point for exploring the dynam- ics of electoral politics. They came together geographically in New York City, which was both the media capital of the United States and also, so far as political calculations were concerned, the key swing state for achieving electoral victory. The daily press was the dominant media form throughout this period and played a critical role in presidential politicking. New York City’s mass-circulation dailies leaned Democratic in the 1880s and early 1890s. They were key to Democratic victory in two of those three elections: 1884

fight . . . was not lost motion because we were suc- cessful in getting merits of the bill before both Congress and the country, so success seems assured next session."37 In a similar vein he communicated with D. F. McGarry, head of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, and in answer to a sug- gestion made by McGarry and others that the time had come to compromise differences, Swing stated his position: It is impossible to make a serious proposal of the magnitude of the Boulder Dam Project and not have irreconcilable differences of opinion, in and out of

focusing on racism. The logic is that if racism is not going away, it doesn’t do much good for black people to focus on it. Victor, an African American Republican from a very competitive swing state, suggests: When it comes to opportunities out there, there are opportunities that black people aren’t taking advantage of. It’s perpetuated that “the white man is against me and I can’t do it.” Okay, this happened in the past, and there may still be some out there, but you don’t see other minorities who come over here. . . . You don’t see the Pakista- nis or the Arabs