The following is a plea for the President of the United States to acknowledge a very weighty player in his recent election. You see, unlike some far bigger states, Rhode Island had little financial reason to support Barack Obama for a second term. Why’d they do it? Maybe other concerns motivated them more…..
(Here he is–the one Democratic governor elected to office since 1985–Bruce Sundlun. He’s the exception standing among 3 Republican governors and the present “Independent.” )
‘The math’s’ been bantered around, a great deal, in this election, as if it were a foregone conclusion that folks would weigh numerical data and support a candidate on that basis.
That presumption proved faulty.
In the recent Rhode Island Presidential election, Barack Obama got 262,444 votes (63% of precincts) to Mitt Romney’s 146,295 (35% of precincts). The two towns in this littlest state who voted “Romney for President” were two–Scituate and East Greenwich.
All the rest of the state was a sea of blue, demonstrating unified support for the President.
On the face of it, the President’s over-the-top support wouldn’t seem bizarre…til one digs deeper.
When pundits proclaimed (on Election night:) “The President’s doing well in Virginia,” they cited the following reasons: “Virginia demographics have changed in the past decade (there’s a big Latino vote now–usually heavily pro-Obama,) and Virginia’s got a significant Asian population (that also breaks in favor of the President.)
Virginia’s got low unemployment, at 5.9% (latest figure is for September, 2011) and its defense industry thrives (Obama’s policies have supported that element.)
In other words, their state population’s not suffering the angst that other urban/ suburban areas face, regions that don’t enjoy built-in buffers.
Virginia’s average household income, in 2011, is $62,000, with counties abutting the Washington, DC coming in at over the $100,000 annual income.
That means, Virginia’s pretty affluent. They’ve got few reasons ‘to throw the bums out’ (the political party in power.)
In contrast, Rhode Island’s average income is $53,636, while its unemployment rate is a whopping 10.2% (this will climb in months to come, as 2012 numbers are factored in.)
Its own defense industry was decimated years ago, when the many-acre naval facility, at Quonset Point, lost its funding. Overnight, buildings were abandoned and today, empty warehouses dot the landscape, descending further into decay.
Rhode Island’s got little Congressional clout, with two Senators and two Representatives, who are not exactly courted for their influence.
So, the question: “Why did Rhode Island overwhelmingly support this President?”
“Could it be that Rhode Island’s merely a bastion of Democratic support?” Hardly. Since 1985, Rhode Island has elected 3 out of 5 Republican governors. The present governor, Lincoln Chafee, identifies himself as “Independent.”
The only Democratic governor, during that time period, was Bruce Sundlun.
So, the one-party mindset as reason won’t work.
Instead, it would appear this little state reelected President Obama to finish the job he started. Quite simply, they acted on faith.
In recognition of their unwavering support, President Obama should issue a “Thank you!” to a state that’s remained loyal in the face of its own serious internal problems.
But that probably won’t happen…Politicians are too busy tripping over the major players– Ohio, California, or even bumbling, can’t-seem-to-get-elections-right-Florida.
In the shuffle, the little guys get lost.
But what happened in Rhode Island’s election confirms: Sometimes, the people vote on nothing more than principle, with an abiding belief in the character of one candidate over another. When that happens, it affirms our core beliefs.
In other words, it’s not always ‘about the math,’ and that’s encouragement for all…..