The Rockford Files

Bleeding Red, Feeling Blue

When I started this column back in January 2001 (as a “Letter From Rockford”), the United States had just emerged from a presidential election that made this country look anything but united.  Red and Blue, until then simply convenient colors used by the television networks to designate which party’s candidate had captured the electoral votes of each state, had become political metaphors representing, respectively, the values of the Middle American heartland—God, guns, lower taxes, the preservation of life, both in the womb and at its end—and the values, or lack thereof, of coastal America—New York, Hollywood, higher taxes, and rights modified by various adjectives, from abortion to gay to immigrants’.

As the 2004 presidential race drew to a close, every pundit was offering his predictions about whether Senator Kerry had overcome his liberal image enough to make inroads in Red America and whether President Bush had demonstrated sufficient leadership to do the same in the Blue.  In the end, though, the map looked remarkably similar to that of 2000.

And so, after Senator Kerry’s concession, the Red versus Blue debates continued in earnest, bolstered by exit polls that showed that 22 percent of voters nationwide named “moral values” as the most important issue in the race.  Seventy-nine percent of those voters had cast their ballots for President...

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