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Larry Schweikart @LarrySchweikart
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1) In 1970, historian Paul Kleppner published a pathbreaking book called the "Cross of Culture," arguing that race and urbarn/rural divisions had less to do with elections than did religious/ideological divisions, especially among key groups in the Midwest.
2) Kleppner identified two specific types of groups, "liturgicals" (Catholics) and "pietists" (Lutherans) though many other sub-groups fell in under each.

His main point was that in retrospect you could predict the election based on a small number of precincts and districts.
3) These key precincts and districts swung back and forth and we had remarkably close national elections.

*In 1877, Samuel Tilden won the popular vote by a whopping 3%, yet lost the electoral college. Republicans were in charge of Congress. They claimed fraud . . .
3) contd . . . in three southern DemoKKKrat states, FL, LA, and SC. Congress formed a 15-man commission, divided among 7 Rs, 7 Ds, and one both groups accepted, an "I'. But he through a technicality lost his seat on the commission & was replaced by another R-leaning I.
3) contd. The Commission ruled 8-7 in every case in favor of the Republicans, and the DemoKKKrats, who had pretty much ignored the seating of an OR elector earlier (who would have made Tilden president) lost the election.
4) But this was only the start of close elections:

*In 1880, a mere 1,900 votes separated the winner from the loser (0.1%)
*In 1884, the separation grew to 57,000 and 0.6%, but still tiny. DemoKKKrat Grover Cleveland--the last good DemoKKKrat---won.
5) Finally in 1888, with Cleveland defeated, there was a sizeable gap between the two candidates. Benjamin Harrison won by 900,000 votes and .9%

6) But in 1892, the margins fell again, this time because of a third party candidate, Weaver, who took 1m votes and 8%.
6) contd. Cleveland won--the only time a president who had been unseated in one election returned and won another. But the margin was 380,000 votes and 3%.

7) For Kleppner, each of these very close elections turned almost entirely on the "pietists" and the "liturgicals."
8) While history doesn't repeat itself, it does resemble itself. Going back to 2000, with the razor thin Bush victory, you had a fairly close electoral college victory by Bush in 2004 (decided by 115,000 votes in OH).

The 2008 election was an anomaly: the first black candidate
8) contd: combined with an utterly inept and unwilling-to-fight Republican led to a relative blowout of 9m popular vote/7.2% margin for Zero. But 2012 was much closer and Zero's popular margin was 5 million/3.9%. Five states accounting for 750,000 votes made the difference.
9) I think historians in analyzing the era will at some point set Zero's elections aside and show that we had popular margins deciding the presidency of 1,000 (W, 2000), and, in 2004, really about 115,000 in OH (as had that state flipped, Kerry would have won.
9) Contd. Bush's 3m/3% national margin were as misleading as Cankles winning the popular vote. Ohio's 20 electors could have given Lurch the victory.

10) In 2016, Trump essentially won by 70,000 votes in WI, MI, and PA.

11) Now, in the midterms, the real margin in 17 seats . .
11) contd. was a mere 54,500 votes. That's not to say the DemoKKKrats didn't run it up in CA and NY, meaning that on the surface the margin looks bigger. But it is to state the reality that control of the US government in 3 presidential and one House mid-term election . . .
11) contd . . . has now turned on 1,000; 115,000; 74,000; and 54,000 votes.

This suggests that just like in the late 1800s, there are a variety of issues that candidates must navigate and that voters are quite fickle.

12) In 2020, Rs MUST message correctly on the right issues.
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