Friday, November 24, 2006

Who's a racist now, punk?

“I never thought so many people in (X) county would vote for a ni...”

This sentence was completed in its politically incorrect fullness by a former Democratic county chair on election night while in the courthouse watching the numbers come in. The numbers in the Gubernatorial election in our rural county were roughly the opposite of the statewide numbers. People in our rural county had in fact voted for a black man. Perhaps the fact that there was a Klan rally in my county about 15 years ago had something to do with the idea that there was a lot of latent racism in central Pennsylvania. No matter. Those people are now officially a statistical blip. An anomaly. The exceptions that prove the rule: rural people are not racist.

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania ( defines a rural county as one with a population density of less than 274 persons per square mile. Using population density as the measure of “ruralness”, eight of the ten most rural counties in Pennsylvania produced a majority for Lynn Swann. Of the ten most urban counties, only two voted for Swann, and those the least dense of the densest. The ten best-efforts for Swann were all in rural counties. Of Rendell's best performing counties, only one was officially rural.

It should come as no surprise to anybody that rural counties voted Republican. Moreover, it should come as no surprise that we voted for a Republican who was black.

Swann didn't run a good campaign. There are a lot of reasons for this, including the perception that he didn't have a clear platform. He got clobbered statewide, but he managed to do well in “the sticks” among the people who were supposed to be racist. Never again do I want to hear that rural Pennsylvanians won't vote for a racial minority candidate, or even an “white ethnic” like Mike DelGrosso. Never.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Thank you, James Carville

Democratic political consultant James Carville once famously remarked that Pennsylvania is Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between. Well, I'm writing from the "in between" Alabama-esque region of the Keystone State, a place where a gun raffle is a legitimate fundraiser, a place where the first day of deer hunting season is a good reason to miss work, a place where Amish can be seen at the local Wal-mart.

In naming this blog, I considered the possibility that I would be taken less seriously because of the name and because of my location far from the centers of power and opinion-making.  While I'm sure this is the case in some instances, experience has shown me that there is no sense in trying to obfuscate that information. 

Since I can't hide from it, I might as well own it.

What exactly Carville meant by his statement, whether it's true, or whether it really matters, is not the point of this blog. This blog will be from my perspective - conservative, Republican, Pennsylvanian.


Joe is looking for new opportunities!

Like many Americans in this economy, I'm doing a job that isn't exactly what I had ever planned on doing.  In my case, that's reviewing tax returns.  Before that, I spent a lot of my time trading the stock market.  And while I obviously find the market interesting and worthwhile trading, it's not what I'm most passionate about -- politics.  Talking. Writing. Debating.  Persuading.

Too many in politics lack a broad, generalist perspective.  You've got "political communications" people, policy analysis folks, social media masters, cold "Rove" type strategists, party people, and ideological warriors.  Communications folks can read polls and can react to moving numbers, but sometimes lack an appreciation of what the underlying motivations of voters are, or needlessly stumble onto landmines.  Party insiders don't truly understand what the base sees in a Sarah Palin, and the ideological warriors don't understand why Palin and Bachmann aren't beloved by more.  Somewhere in this mess, there needs to be room for more people who have a clue as to how all the cogs in the machine work together.  You've got to know how policy affects the real world, how ideas spread, what motivates different parts of the population, and what motivates (and demotivates) the base. 

How many professional politicos even understand how big the task is, or what the real questions are?

How many spin-meisters are interested in actually persuading voters when the standard tactics aren't enough?

Is "50% plus 1" good enough for you?

I've spent considerable time researching the relationship between centrist voters and perceptions of ideology, and have come to the conclusion that with the right language, tone, and tactics, more conservative candidates and messages can appeal to a broader percentage of voters than conventional wisdom affords. Any candidate or organization willing to implement this thesis would find me well-prepared for the task.

I don't want to come off as somebody who thinks he knows it all.  I most certainly don't.  But I do think I can make significant contributions to a team that isn't afraid to discuss what some of their blind spots might be.

So if you’re looking to hire somebody like myself, drop me a line, and maybe we can work together.