November 23, 2004

Donít Go North, Go Swing

Thereís been a lot of talk after the election about left-leaning Americans moving to Canada to get out of Bushís America. Now, personally, Iím not looking to move anywhere unless I can take my city with me. But if youíre one of those considering moving as a result of the election, I have a better place to go than Canada.

Donít just give up on America! True, America may currently seem like a mass of bigotry and ignorance, a nation of myopic packrats willing to give their country to a would-be-Taliban with better PR in exchange for a feel-good pep-talk and a 300-dollar check from the IRS. But America has always been more than the foibles of its voters. Let us not forget that America was founded on the highest ideals of any liberal, that it has lead the world in the advance of liberty at least as often as it has followed it, that it was the torch that lit the fires of liberty that still burn around the globe.

True, the bold words of the Declaration of Independence were often ignored, the brave principles of the Bill of Rights often compromised into near meaninglessness. Throughout our history, the conservative tendencies of the general populus have posed obstacles to fulfilling the promise of America, but throughout our history, men and women have been inspired by Americaís ideals to push forth the boundaries of freedom. Where would America be today if progressive minded Americans had given up rather than face an America where homosexuality was a crime? Where Blacks had to ride in the back of the bus? Where teaching evolution was illegal? Where women couldnít own property, much less vote? Where one in eight Americans was a slave? Where political participation was restricted to wealthy white males? Where appointees of the British king held absolute executive power?

So donít give up without a fight. Donít go streaming out of the country when thereís still work to be doing here. Instead of moving to Canada, why not move to a crucial swing state, not only will you not have to worry about immigration procedures or waiting for citizenship, but you will probably be moving someplace warmer than Canada. More importantly, instead of giving up on America, you will be fighting for itís future.

So, where to move? The first thought might be just to move to a red state and hope to make a difference. But on further thought, that is not such a great idea. simply splattering our votes all over the place is inefficient and likely to be mostly a wasted effort. Not much point in moving to Texas when George Bush won the state by 1.7 million votes (although it might not be so deeply red if we didnít have two Texans on the ballot). Instead, the move should be from deeply partisan states (red or blue) to swing states (red or blue, remember defense is nearly as important as offense, and we canít count on a state in 2008 just because Kerry eked out a razor thin victory).

For maximum effect, we should concentrate our efforts on a handful of key states, where a small number of ideological immigrants can actually effect the political climate of the state, especially if they can act as the nucleus of a growing liberal community. Such a concerted political effort need not be pie in the sky, the libertarians have already begun work on the Free State Project, a plan to get 20,000 ďliberty-oriented peopleĒ to move to New Hampshire and turn it into a libertarian paradise. There are probably a lot more liberals, to say nothing of blue-leaning moderates, than libertarians (heck, quite a few libertarians vote for Democrats), so we might be able to afford work on five or six states (maybe working on three red and three blue?).

Preliminary figures from David Leipís US Election Atlas show that the 10 states with the largest margins of victory were:

State Margin

Texas R 1694213
California D 1196557
New York D 1192526
Massachusetts D 726753
Georgia R 548105
Illinois D 530054
Indiana R 510427
Alabama R 481909
Oklahoma R 455826
North Carolina R 434136

If we take just ten percent of the margin of the four blue states on the list, we get a war chest of 365 thousand votes to redistribute among the swing states. With the deep red states, we can go whole hog. If we can get ten percent of the total Kerry vote to relocate to swing states, that works out to another 786 thousand votes, or 1,151 thousand votes from just those ten states. If we could pull any where near those numbers, we could win over a lot more than six states.

As to where to put them, the easy answer is just to dump them in the states with the smallest margins:

State Margin
New Mexico R 7481
New Hampshire D 9309
Iowa R 13077
Wisconsin D 13646
Nevada R 21500
Delaware D 28492
Hawaii D 37517
Maine D 55156
Vermont D 62887
Oregon D 73049

But is this really the most bang for our buck? Perhaps a better strategy would be to invest our votes in the states where one gets the most electoral votes for the least new population. A little fiddling gives us a quick measure of a stateís swingworth: the margin of victory divided by the number of electoral votes, or the number of people one needs to add per vote swung:

State Electors Margin Swingworth
Wisconsin D 10 13646 1364.60
New Mexico R 5 7481 1496.20
Iowa R 7 13077 1868.14
New Hampshire D 4 9309 2327.25
Nevada R 5 21500 4300.00
Pennsylvania D 21 129927 6187.00
Ohio R 20 136483 6824.15
Hawaii D 4 37517 9379.25
Delaware D 3 28492 9497.33
Michigan D 17 165437 9731.59
Minnesota D 10 98319 9831.90
Oregon D 7 73049 10435.57
Maine D 4 55156 13789.00
Colorado R 9 124466 13829.56
New Jersey D 15 211409 14093.93
Florida R 27 380978 14110.30
Arkansas R 6 102476 17079.33
Missouri R 11 196542 17867.45
Washington D 11 205307 18664.27
West Virginia R 5 95631 19126.20
Virginia R 13 262217 20170.54
Vermont D 3 62887 20962.33
Arizona R 10 210770 21077.00
California D 55 1196557 21755.58
Rhode Island D 4 90446 22611.50
Connecticut D 7 163515 23359.29
Illinois D 21 530054 25240.67
Alaska R 3 79178 26392.67
South Dakota R 3 83340 27780.00
North Dakota R 3 85599 28533.00
North Carolina R 15 434136 28942.40
Montana R 3 92322 30774.00
Maryland D 10 309849 30984.90
Louisiana R 9 281870 31318.89
Tennessee R 11 348315 31665.00
Wyoming R 3 96853 32284.33
South Carolina R 8 276275 34534.38
Georgia R 15 548105 36540.33
Mississippi R 6 226261 37710.17
New York D 31 1192526 38468.58
Kentucky R 8 355878 44484.75
Indiana R 11 510427 46402.45
Kansas R 6 296661 49443.50
Texas R 34 1694213 49829.79
Nebraska R 5 255198 51039.60
Alabama R 9 481909 53545.44
D. C. D 3 164869 54956.33
Idaho R 4 228137 57034.25
Massachusetts D 12 726753 60562.75
Oklahoma R 7 455826 65118.00
Utah R 5 422543 84508.60

It would take only 42,000 votes to move New Mexico, Iowa, and Nevada into the blue, thatís enough to tie the electoral vote and send it to the House (although if the Republicans retain their grip on that body, thatís a small comfort). For 179,000, we can take Ohio and victory as well, and with 303,000 voters moving to those states and Colorado, we can shift 46 electoral votes, enough to give Kerry (or a future candidate winning all of 2004ís ďblue states) a 29 vote lead in the Electoral College. Meanwhile, just 23,000 voters would double our lead in Wisconsin and New Hampshire, 153,000 would do those and Pennsylvania, and 219,000 would add Hawaii and Delaware to the shored up states.

These arenít bad places to live, by and large. Admittedly, it would take a lot to sell me on the charms of Iowa, although if I were looking to start an organic farm, it might look different, and who knows, Des Moines could become the next Minneapolis-St. Paul. As for the rest, most of them practically sell themselves: New Mexicoís rich culture, scenic beauty, and art scene, Nevadaís freewheeling cultural politics, Coloradoís mountains and the strong progressive communities of Denver and Boulder, the reawakening downtowns of Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia, offering urban living at less than New York rents, Hawaii, címon... Even Delaware offers plenty of white collar jobs, proximity to Phily and Baltimore, and miles of beautiful beach.

So how about it? Can we get 7,500 Texas liberals (outside of the state legislature) to decamp to New Mexico? 22,000 Californios to head to Nevada? 9,000 Massachussans to forgo the pleasures of income tax and move to New Hampshire? Sure beats being an illegal immigrant in Canada, if you ask me.

Posted by Old Toby at 04:15 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 07, 2004

Opening My Big Mouth

Hi all, this is Old Toby, finally posting here, more than a year after this space was created, and I want to start by thanking my brother, Abe, for giving me this blog.

This blog will feature general musings on a wide range of issues, including politics, cultural issues, philosophy, architecture and urbanism, demographics, science fiction, and geek identity. But I'll start by explaining why I've come to start this blog.

I'd long had an interest in blogging. I have lots of big ideas and I would like them to be known (and to get some credit for them). I also spend a lot of time thinking about current events, writing commentaries in my head. So blogging seems like something that should come naturally to me.

So why haven't I? Mostly it's lazyness. Starting the blog is just another one of those things that "I'll get around to it sometime". But beyond that is an issue of confidence: while my inner megalomaniac fancies that my sparkling prose and uniquely brilliant ideas will propel me to internet fame and glory, my inner cynic says that anything I say has probably already been said better someplace else, and that nobody will read my blog anyway.

But this election has shaken that cynicism. Not by assuring me that it was wrong, but by challenging my right to worry about it. Whether-or-not saying all the things I was thinking (but not hearing said) would have made any difference whatsoever in the election, the fact is that I didn't say them, I didn't try, I didn't give myself a chance. So, better to try and fail, than never to try at all (or, at least, that's what I'll think before the Bush Stormtroopers smash down my door and take me away for sedition against God's Anointed Leader).

So, hopefully, I'll be following up with some actual commentary vis How the Left Lost The Culture War and The Blue Left: A New Agenda of Liberalism (that's two seperate topics, although they may have some overlap). But for now, my message is IF YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY, SAY IT!

PS: There doesn't seem to be a spell check on this thing, maybe I should write these things up in Appleworks before I post 'em.

Posted by Old Toby at 03:03 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack