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DNC: Swing states (and their delegates) get all the love

By   /   September 4, 2012  /   News  /   No Comments

First lady Michelle Obama waves to delegates Tuesday night at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.


By Eric Boehm | Watchdog.org

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Declaration of Independence asserts that all men are created equal.

When it comes to states, however, there is no such guarantee – especially at a national convention.

Like a microcosm of the national campaign, the Democrats’ convention planners have put a handful of key state delegations front and center at in the Time Warner Cable Arena in downtown Charlotte where first lady Michelle Obama cap off the first night of the party’s national convention Tuesday.

Ohio, Colorado, Virginia and other so-called “swing states” are at the center of a national campaign media blitz and are also front-and-center at the Democrats’ festivities here.  The never-ending television ads at home have given way to front-row seats for the delegations lucky enough to hail from the states that seem most likely to determine the outcome of the presidential election.

Some might say the special places for keys states is another way the convention’s infomercial-like atmosphere is targeted to the most important voters, but Matt Besser, a delegate from Cleveland, said Ohio’s place in the national spotlight was well-deserved.

I don’t know if its special treatment, but I think it reflects how important Ohio is to the election,” he said. “They say ‘as Ohio goes, so goes the nation,’ and that seems to be true again this year.

But the focus on the swing states has left other delegates feeling like they’ve been left out of the national election.

Unless you’re one of the 11 swing states as identified by the campaigns and the media, you don’t feel like your vote really counts,” said Dan Mosey, a delegate from Missouri, which is considered to be firmly in Romney’s column come November.

A quick stroll through the convention floor will tell you all you need to know about which states are “more equal” than others.

Not even being a solid Democratic state can guarantee a spot in the front rows.

California might be as blue as they come, but it far from the center of attention in Charlotte, as Democrats can afford to take it for granted.

Missouri is one of the non-swing states whose delegates will have to watch from the back of the convention hall.

Tami Burke, a delegate from Santa Monica, Calif., likened the situation to a family, with the reliably Democratic states being the “elder siblings” and the swing states being the children who get more of their parents’ attention.

But California still plays an important role nationally, she said.

We’re actually very valued because the blue states are the ones that are doing a lot of phone calls into battleground states,” Burke told Watchdog.org on Tuesday.

Bob Kresslein, from Maryland, said there was a lot of “export work” of volunteers into Virginia, which figures to be one of the most important swing states.

As for Maryland’s place in the convention hall – all the way at the back and near the top row – Kresslein was taking it in stride.

It would be nice to be closer to the podium and to be able to see the speakers up front,” he said. “But it is what it is.”

If you’re not a swing state and want a front row seat at the convention, you better have another good reason for the national committee to give you special attention.

Reliably Democratic states Illinois and Delaware get to sit in the front, of course, because they are the respective homes of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

But other true blue states – like Maryland and Rhode Island – are relegated to the back rows of the arena with the solid Republican states like Mississippi and Missouri.

The same is true when it comes to advertising and campaigning in the national election, where the majority of all television spending by the two major parties’ campaigns has taken place in only four states – Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, and Colorado – said Terry Madonna, a professor of political science at Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania who was attending the convention.

All the big money is spent in literally a handful of states,” he said. “It’s good to be from a swing state, you get a lot of attention.

Kathy Vossler, a delegate from Texas, said the state’s size ensured it would have at least some sway on the national party, even though Republican Mitt Romney is virtually assured of winning Texas’ 38 electoral votes.

But is she jealous of the attention feasted upon Ohio and other swings?

“We don’t get all the advertising money like the swing states,” she said Tuesday. “But I don’t know that I would envy the commercial barrage they are going through over there.”


Contact Eric Boehm at [email protected] and follow EricBoehm87 on Twitter.