Swing state perks

Only a small percentage of the 270 electoral votes needed to ascend to the presidency rests with the North Star state. Only once during the past 10 elections has Minnesota — considered by many to be one of the most progressive states — devoted its electorate to a Republican presidential candidate. Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush have mostly avoided visiting Minnesota — assuming the state a safe bet for the Democratic nominee. But polls showing the state’s 10 electoral votes up for grabs has lead the Gore campaign to infuse extra money into the state for commercials. Gore even graced us with a visit on Saturday, accompanied by Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton and Sen. Paul Wellstone. According to a St. Cloud State University survey last week, Bush and Gore are essentially tied in Minnesota, reflecting similar polls in about 17 other states as well as most national polls, forcing both candidates to invest time and money into areas they thought were decided long ago. It is odd that politicians consider a simple, short visit so capable of changing voters’ minds and rallying enough support when voters cast their ballots next Tuesday.
Gore’s use of President Bill Clinton in his campaign serves to illustrate the manipulative nature of this practice. Careful about which states he allows his boss to stump for him in, the vice president has forbidden the president from campaigning in swing states like Michigan and Minnesota that are currently teetering between the candidates, despite invitations from the local congressional candidates for Clinton to make campaign appearances.
Although it is natural that politicians would spend time in swing states where races are tight, they should not assume a short stump speech rehashing the same focus-group-tested campaign themes will greatly alter the race. Presidential candidates should instead focus on meeting as many different voters as possible throughout the United States so everyone, not just those living within the competitive states, have the opportunity to meet those who are fighting for their vote.