The 51 percent nation

I’m going to go with Big Foot, UFOs and Susan Sarandon dove hunting with the Pope. Those are my top three answers to the question: What are you more likely to see in a red state than President Obama for the next year?

Since mid-August, the president has been slipping into racing form with a series of sprints around the country; raking in campaign funds, talking up his jobs program and talking down Republicans. But with the exception of one trip to Texas, every single visit has been to a state that voted for him in
2008, places like Illinois, Colorado, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

He has shown a particular fondness for states that he flipped from red to blue, so it was no surprise that he made tracks through North Carolina and Virginia this week, with a clear eye to turning that trick again. The White House says he’s not campaigning ‹ he’s just informing the voters. Maybe. But
if that’s true, than the president must think his own constituency is pretty thick-headed, since he’s spending virtually all his time “informing” them.

The same is true on the Republican side, of course, only they’re not pretending to be “informing” anyone; they are just openly campaigning. Trips by the GOP pick (whenever that is decided) will also be heavily focused on battleground states, which the challenger thinks can be tipped from blue to
red. Beyond that, the GOP nominee will bolster his or her base where needed, and otherwise blast past residents of true blue states as if they are hoboes along the highway.

All of this makes perfect political sense. After all, if a candidate spends all his time running in places where people hate him, then he can just keep running because he’ll never get to sit down in the Oval Office. But more than one policy analyst has noted this trend makes for terrible governance, and leads inevitably to a deeper dividing of the country.

Candidates for both parties almost always call themselves uniters. They like to say they are in the race for the good of every citizen. But keep an eye on their travels. They’re not even running for office with the whole country in mind just the 51 percent that can help them win.

­ CNN¹s Tom Foreman is a regular on AC360°/www.ac360.com and The Situation Room.


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