Campaigns/Elections

The Bars Weren't Open This Morning

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Ann Arbor, home of the Michigan Wolverines, is the most left-wing town in the state, arguably in the entire Midwest. Still, when I was an undergrad here in the election of '88 and a newly-minted alum in the election of '92, there were at least a few indications around campus that the vote was being contested. (And not just by the Republicans. If you wanted to meet Helen Halyard, nominee of the Workers League, she was right there outside the library, passing out her own literature.)

Today you can see a few McCain signs in the townie parts of the city, though the Obama signs overwhelmingly outnumber them. But on campus, the only indication I could find that the GOP even exists was one curly-haired kid in a McCain-Palin T-shirt, deep in what appeared to be an entirely apolitical conversation. I realize that I'm an outsider now, no longer plugged in to college activism, and that there's surely a student right-wing underground. But even taking that into account, the visible support for Obama seems much more uniform than the support for Clinton and Dukakis 16 and 20 years ago. The College Democrats were out in force on the Diag, the center of campus, handing out literature (one volunteer's pitch to passers-by: "Free Obama stuff?") and singing what I gathered were Obama carols. Rock the Vote, nominally nonpartisan but in practice an extension of the Democratic Party, had a booth there as well. So, happily, did Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, who are campaigning for a Michigan medical marijuana initiative.

The polls were open at the student union. There was a blood drive in progress there as well, in case anyone wanted to contribute something useful to the community. Both attractions seemed to be doing brisk business. A nice young woman offered me an I Voted sticker as I exited the area, even though I had not, in fact, just cast a vote. If I were less honest, I would have taken the opportunity to con Starbucks out of a cup of coffee.

NEXT: An Election Night Guide

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  1. Left of Madison? I think not.

  2. Madison’s the main reason there’s an “arguably” in there.

  3. Not to take away from Ann Arbor’s socialist credentials, of course, but Madison was officially part of the Soviet Union, I believe.

  4. No mention of the Ann Arbor mayoral race? The incumbent is being challenged by a Libertarian UM student whose official platform is essentially “low taxes/Amethyst Initiative.” Among students on campus and Facebook, he’s actively campaigned with promises to completely decriminalize marijuana within the city.

    He hasn’t got a snowball’s chance in hell, but it’s been fun to watch.

  5. Go Green!

    It’s not much better anywhere else in college right now. If you’re not left, you’re wrong.

  6. College campuses are an excellent argument for raising the voting age to 21.

  7. Ann Arbor is a university town. There’s some law somewhere, perhaps in the Constitution, that requires towns with state universities to be overwhelmingly liberal. If you look at the red/blue county maps of the last elections, you can spot all the universities in the “flyover states” because they’re dots of blue in a sea of red.

    Liberals like to claim that’s because the higher educated you are the more likely you are to be liberal. That’s not the reason, it’s because universities are very insular environments, dependent on the state for existance, and overrun by clueless adolescents. They’ve become echo chambers of liberalism. To be fair, the military branches have become echo chambers of conservatism for nearly identical reasons.

  8. ProL,

    I’ve lived in both within the last several years, and Ann Arbor does manage to be further to the left, based largely on it’s ability to sustain distinct groups of both Maoists and Trotskyites.

  9. Brandybuck,

    Since both are very insular environments, dependent on the state for existence and overrun by clueless adolescents, why the difference in results?

    I agree with you, btw. But it is interesting that one is liberal and the other conservative.

  10. 1) I’ve lived in Madison, as well as Duluth. I found Duluth to be more liberal (city counsel was formerly Green Party controlled). The city was effective in prohibiting both Home Depot and Olive Garden- not b/c of zoning, mind you, but b/c “we don’t need big corporations.”

    2) “If you look at the red/blue county maps of the last elections, you can spot all the universities in the “flyover states” because they’re dots of blue in a sea of red.” True generally, but some “flyover states” such as Wisconsin, Minnesota, sometimes Iowa, will often vote democrat (Minnesota, by presidential elections, is the most historically democrat state in the country.

    Not proud of these facts- just setting the record straight.

  11. This isn’t a puzzle Jesse. Ann Arbor is a limousine liberal bubble in the middle of a blue collar Democrat area. How big an area? Take a map of the US and a compass (circles not north). Stick the point of the compass right at the intersection of Woodward and Michigan Avenues, Detroit. Stick the scribe on the MI/OH boarder around Toledo. Then swing an arc, up past Ann Arbor, bisecting Lansing, up around all of Flint and trailing away somewhere north of Port Huron. Everything inside that arc belongs to the auto industry.

    When people are buying cars, the mafia Union labor, might consider voting Republican to keep taxes down. But mostly they kick in for the Dems.

    Now I don’t know when the last time you stuck your nose outside that hole in the ground you’ve been hiding in Jesse, but the Big Three auto makers aren’t doing so well these days. A kid might get away with a McCain t-shirt on campus. But putting a McCain/Palin sign on your front lawn anywhere in Wayne county is a good way to get your house fire bombed.

  12. Barack Obama raised more money from people in the military than any other candidate this year.

    Ron Paul was second.

    There are huge differences in the political orientations between the officer corp and the enlisted personnel. There are also big differences by branch, with the Air Force especially being fundie la-la land.

  13. It’s not much better anywhere else in college right now. If you’re not left, you’re wrong.

    From what I’ve observed and experienced, the Right on college campuses has died more from self-inflicted wounds than anything else. The Rove infection hit them pretty hard, and they alienated even like-minded faculty with cheap stunts and grandstanding.

    It can’t help that the Right’s bread and butter these days is making fun of people who can write complete sentences as part of some sort of elite Antichrist-worshiping clique. I can’t imagine why that doesn’t play on college campuses. Can you?

  14. There are also big differences by branch, with the Air Force especially being fundie la-la land.

    Wasn’t there a “thing” about this at Colorado Springs?

  15. From what I’ve observed and experienced, the Right on college campuses has died more from self-inflicted wounds than anything else. The Rove infection hit them pretty hard, and they alienated even like-minded faculty with cheap stunts and grandstanding.

    Sounds like they’re at the same level of Balls and Shaft from PCU.

  16. This isn’t a puzzle Jesse.

    I didn’t say it was!

    Ann Arbor is a limousine liberal bubble in the middle of a blue collar Democrat area.

    Oh, they aren’t all limousine liberals here. There’s a lot of middle-class liberals too, not to mention Old Hippies (and now Old Punks) who can barely afford a cab.

  17. Duluth? Who knew?

    I think if Obama wins, Madison and Ann Arbor should compete to see which city can out commie the other.

  18. Sounds like they’re at the same level of Balls and Shaft from PCU.

    “America’s Greatest president.”

    -What?

    “America’s Greatest president.”

    -Who is Ronald Reagan.

    “A casual shoe for yachting?”

    -What’re you trying to figure out, BD? Who could I be?

    “A causal shoe for yachting?”

    -[Sigh] What is a blooker.

    “They killed Jesus Christ.”

    -WHO ARE THE JEWS?! OPEN UP, SUCKO!

  19. Barack Obama raised more money from people in the military than any other candidate this year.

    The linkless one strikes again!

  20. Ann Arbor is pretty short on limos and on actual liberals (as opposed to people who mistakenly call themselves liberals but are actually not) but there are a lot of new class lefties of various sorts around.

    Jesse: if you had dropped by my office, I would have happily bought you a good cup of coffee.

    econjeff (in ann arbor)

  21. Joshua,

    A YEAR and six weeks old. My guess is that if Obama raised more from the military than any other candidate it is because he is African-American, not because of his policies. I’d have to check the demographics of the military, but I’d guess is skews African American.

  22. Today you can see a few McCain signs in the townie parts of the city, though the Obama signs overwhelmingly outnumber them.

    That might have something to do with the fact that a McCain sign has a better chance of getting your house egged or your car keyed than an Obama sign does. Republicans aren’t so much into the property damage thing. You couldn’t pay me enough to put McCain sign up in front of my house.

    If there’s nothing else to be said for the Republicans, at least they attract a better class of voters.

  23. If there’s nothing else to be said for the Republicans, at least they attract a better class of voters.

    Which group, the racists, the ones that assault reporters or the crazies that pretend to get sexually assaulted?

  24. Which group, the racists, the ones that assault reporters or the crazies that pretend to get sexually assaulted?

    All of ’em.

    Did any of those people actually do any damage to anyone’s person or property? Let me know when somebody living in an overwhelmingly Republican neighborhood has anything to fear by putting up an Obama yard sign.

  25. That might have something to do with the fact that a McCain sign has a better chance of getting your house egged or your car keyed than an Obama sign does.

    I haven’t spotted any eggs on the McCain houses around the corner from ours.

    But sure, maybe the reason for the relative scarcity of McCain signs is the flood of vandalism that Unregistered Voter, expert on Ann Arbor voter behavior, assures us they would unleash. Or maybe, just maybe, it might have to do with the fact that there are a lot more Democrats than Republicans in this city.

  26. Or maybe, just maybe, it might have to do with the fact that there are a lot more Democrats than Republicans in this city.

    Uh, yeah, that part was kind of understood. The point being, though, that what Republicans there are might have more than a little incentive to keep their sympathies close to their chests.

    I don’t claim to be an expert in Ann Arbor in particular, but as someone who lives in similarly Democratic dominated mid-western town, I can tell you the McCain signs are few and far between. And I know for sure there are more than 3 Republicans in the neighborhood.

  27. As somebody who’s work has kept him pretty close University culture from the time I graduated 10 years ago until now, I don’t really notice much of a shift in terms of politics at all. 95% of college kids still don’t give a shit about politics and devote most of their time to trying to get laid. Among the 5% that partake in some sort of “activism” the liberals/socialists dominate, but they’ve always dominated. Enthusiasm among the activist right is definitely down, but that’s because if you are an activist college Republican, you’re probably a Federalist Society type who has always hated McCain. The college scene mirrors the general population at large in that respect. Obama people are pro-Obama. McCain people are anti-Obama. McCain himself is pretty much ignored.

  28. Uh, yeah, that part was kind of understood. The point being, though, that what Republicans there are might have more than a little incentive to keep their sympathies close to their chests.

    You are inordinately scared of people that the consensus has pegged as frenchie limp-wristed surrender monkey wannabes.

    “Gangs of roving Democrats” just doesn’t curdle the blood. You know what I’m saying?

  29. I should add that before coming to A2 I lived inside the beltway for four years. A2 feels like a breath of fresh air after that. People here have lives outside of politics, they are polite in the way that only midwestern people can be, and the fraction of lefties is much lower here than in DC, where it must be around 0.9.

  30. RC,

    The linkless one strikes again!

    HA HA!

    Just an FYI: I’m going to keep doing this. You can keep taking the bait, or not, whatever.

    I think it’s just more fun this way.

  31. That might have something to do with the fact that a McCain sign has a better chance of getting your house egged or your car keyed than an Obama sign does. Republicans aren’t so much into the property damage thing. You couldn’t pay me enough to put McCain sign up in front of my house.

    If there’s nothing else to be said for the Republicans, at least they attract a better class of voters.

    Uh, not so much, really.

    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/11/1/165630/516

    I like the second picture, where you can see the untouched McCain sign in the background.

  32. Let me know when somebody living in an overwhelmingly Republican neighborhood has anything to fear by putting up an Obama yard sign.

    Kthxbai.

  33. Hey joe,

    Do you actually have recent statistics? Or is Joshua’s over-a-year-old statistic good enough for you?

    I don’t care either way, I just don’t like it when people declare victory with bad/outdated “facts”.

  34. Funny you should ask.

    http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2008/08/troops-deployed-abroad-give-61.html

    August 08, the news just gets worse for McCain. Obama outraised him 6:1, and Paul outraised him 4:1.

  35. This is interesting: October 08, Obama leads among uniformed military, but McCain leads among civilian DoD employees.

    http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/17/mccain-edges-obama-with-military-donors/

    Jeez, Montag, just how many names did you donate under? 😉

  36. Since both are very insular environments, dependent on the state for existence and overrun by clueless adolescents, why the difference in results?

    I’m not sure. It might be the chick factor. Nothing easier to get into bed than that chick passing out communist tracts. If you can’t get laid at an anti-Bush rally you can’t get laid at all. It’s not that chicks tend to lean liberal as a gender, it’s just that it’s so much easier to get into liberal chicks pants. So guys get imprinted with the association that Marxism==Sex. Not that military gals are paragons of virtue, but there are fewer of them.

    Just thinking out loud here…

  37. You are inordinately scared of people that the consensus has pegged as frenchie limp-wristed surrender monkey wannabes.

    “Gangs of roving Democrats” just doesn’t curdle the blood. You know what I’m saying?

    Let me put it this way – who here is seriously worried about riots in Republican neighborhoods if/when McCain looses?

    *sound of crickets chirping*

  38. I went to U of M in 1975. Long-time residents talked with glee about Ken Kesey boiling down 200 million dollars in cocaine from Bacardi rum bottles that were dissolved to the solubility limit and shipped into the USA with duty and taxes all paid, everything marked, everything ‘membered. He did it in the second story chemistry building back when it was still in the main campus. They wisely sent all the cocaine to the west coast to not attract attention in Ann Arbor. The Rainbow People’s party would have house parties where they hung the bedsheets soaked with LSD in the doorways. You would get a contact high just walking around. The sheets were a byproduct of acid production. They were the drop-cloths used to protect the floor when they spayed diluted LSD on blotter paper. The over-spray soaked into the sheets and after a few months they became quite potent. I am told many a coed would be found just sucking on the sheets with glassy eyes. It was right around 1975 the government put a federal building downtown. Ann Arbor went into a serious decline after that, occasional spasms of Republicanism shaking its body like a wino in seizures. Remember this was when political activism advocated overthrowing the government. The feds were scared, even terrified, of us uppity students challenging the status quo. I assume the administration building is still there by Jefferson where my room was. Note that the first floor is all brick with no windows- Great for armed defence of the building and great to practice tennis against, I can attest. All the upper windows have been carefully designed narrow enough so angry students could not toss administrators out the upper-floor windows. The Greens, the Libertarians, the Constitution Party– these are just beer farts in the wind compared to political activism that had the power-elite in fear for their lives. Don’t expect a redux, ever. America’s path is a cleared out of radicals so we can just shrivel and die like every other impotent dying empire. Say, who’s winning the big election, the fascist or the communist? It will make such a big difference in my life.

  39. Obligatory:

    Ann Arbor is a whore.

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