Sunday, June 03, 2018

How Red Is Wyoming?


Hopelessly red. The last Democrat elected to the Senate was Gale McGee. That was in 1958, although he was reelected in 1964 and 1970, only to lose to Republican Malcolm Wallop in 1976. The only other Democrat from Wyoming in the U.S. Senate in recent times was John Hickey. And that was an interesting case. Republican Keith Thomson, a congressman, was elected to an open Senate seat in November, 1960 but died in December, before he could be seated. Wyoming had a Democratic governor, John Hickey, and he appointed himself to the seat but then lost the special election to finish Thomson's term a year later.

As for presidential elections, Wyoming has been as red as they come-- Dewey over FDR in 1944 and two other Democrats since then-- Truman in 1948 and LBJ over Goldwater in 1964. McCain and Romney wiped out Obama who took 33% of the vote the first time he ran and just 28% the second time. Hillary did even worse. Trump won the state 174,419 (68.2%) to 55,973 (21.9%). She won just one of Wyoming's 23 counties, Teton, which contains Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park and much of Yellowstone National Park, making the county less insular than most of the state.

Of the 30 members of the state Senate, there are just 3 Democrats. The state House has 60 members and 9 are Democrats. The governor, Matt Mead, is also a Republican, although conservative Democrat Dave Freudenthal was elected governor in 2002 and was reelected in 2006. All of Wyoming's statewide elected official are Republicans.

The state's population is 563,626, the lowest of any state. Wyoming has 2 U.S. Senators, just like California, which has 37,253,956 people, and 2 more than Washington, DC with a population of 601,723.

U.S. Senator John Barrasso is running for reelection and the Democrat challenging him is Gary Trauner. Barrasso has raised $5,999,832 to Trauner's $351,331. The at-large congressional seat is held by Liz Cheney. There are two Democrats running, Mark Harvey and Travis Helm, but neither has raised the $5,000 it takes to trigger an FEC report. There's a wide open gubernatorial open seat election that has drawn half a dozen Republicans for the August 21 primary, including right-wing crackpot billionaire Foster Friess. There are also 2 Democrats competing in the primary, Ken Casner and Mary Throne.

Wyoming's PVI is R+25, the worst in the whole country. Oklahoma and Utah are tied for second worst, each at R+20. West Virginia was the only state that embraced Trump more enthusiastically than Wyoming. The bottom of the barrel-- the percentage vote for dumb white people who couldn't see through Trump:
West Virginia- 68.50%
Wyoming- 67.40%
Oklahoma- 65.32%
North Dakota- 62.96%
Kentucky- 62.52%
So how is the blue wave going to impact Wyoming, the nation's biggest coal-producing state? Not much at all. Wyoming Democrats put up only 18 state House candidates and 4 state Senate candidates out of the 75 seats up this year. Republican are favored to win all the statewide offices and Trump's job approval is over 60%. According to Gallup, only 11 other states show Trump with over 50% job approval West Virginia, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, Oklahoma, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas and both Dakotas.

I don't have many friends in Wyoming but I asked one of them, Roy Zimmerman, who was the leader of a band I used to work with, The Foremen, to help me understand what's going on up there. (If you click that link just above, you'll understand exactly why I contacted him.) Anyway, writing from the entertainment mecca of Rock Springs, Wyoming...
Looking at a map of the US the day after an election, it's hard not to be daunted by the sea of RED in the center of our country. But that snapshot of election results doesn't tell us what's going on in each state:  What forces are moving a state redder or bluer? What opportunities are there in each state to organize for change? How does the demographic makeup of Democrats and of Republicans vary from state to state? I tour the country constantly with my wife and co-writer Melanie Harby, performing satirical songs for the nation's "Blue Dots"-- the most progressive people in the least progressive parts of the country. I've played Wyoming many times and I've had countless conversations with Wyoming's mighty Blue Dots. Here's what I've learned...

Wyoming is "the Equality State," so named because it was the first territory to adopt women's suffrage. Wyoming embraced the vote for women as a power play so the territory could instantly double it's voting population and qualify for statehood. But Wyomingites are proud of their state moniker. Wyoming Republicans are libertarians and more progressive on most social issues than the Evangelical Republicans of the South and the Mormon Republicans of Utah and Idaho. Dick Cheney's support of marriage equality is not an anomaly among Wyoming Republicans.

Wyoming Democrats are concentrated in the population centers of Cheyenne, Casper and Laramie and on the Indian Reservations. As in the other three sparsely populated states (Montana and North and South Dakota) Native Americans make up a seizable percentage of the state's Democratic voting bloc. How effectively is the national party reaching out to the Indian nations? The riveting gubernatorial candidacy of Paulette Jordan in neighboring Idaho provides a great opportunity for Native Americans to ascend within the Democratic party. How might a massive Get Out The Vote campaign among Native Americans tip the balance of power in Wyoming, Montana, the Dakotas? How might a small increase in urbanization in these states swing the states toward Democratic control?

I'm taking this month off of touring to make my tenth solo album to be called RiZe Up-- an album full of laughter and encouragement for progressive-minded people who need a lot of both. I feel like all the songs I've written over my many-decade career-- the funny songs, the strident songs, the heartfelt songs-- have led me to this moment in history and this response to Trump and Company.

We've got three days left in the crowdfunding campaign. Will you help me bring laughter and encouragement to the Resistance? Here's the link. To laugh is to resist. To hope is to resist.

Here's a song that will be on RiZe Up: “Religious Freedom (To Burn Our Own Witches)”

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At 1:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've only been to Wyoming once for a short stay, but I've never been anywhere else that had drive-through liquor stores.

A friend moved there seeking a more sedate lifestyle, and couldn't get a job to support herself and her two kids. She's not Mormon, and was divorced. After over a year of attempts, she was finally taken on at a private school as a substitute teacher. The first week she worked, she was visited by some of the parents. "You don't give the kids homework to do after school. That's when they do chores until they go to bed."

She moved back to Los Angeles after six months of that and got a real job.

At 6:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WY is a true shithole. It has to be the whitest state except for Utah. And where there is white there is plenty of stupid and hate and greed and evil.

WY embraced fracking before any other state and to a greater extent. Several of its rivers and streams are dead from the toxic effluent. Nobody there cares. Fracking means money. They'd gleefully live in an open sewer if they got paid.

When the Yellowstone supervolcano blows and erases Wyomingites from the face of the earth, it will not be too soon.

At 8:27 AM, Blogger edmondo said...

WY is a true shithole.... Several of its rivers and streams are dead from the toxic effluent. Nobody there cares. They'd gleefully live in an open sewer if they got paid.

LOL. Have you ever been to New Jersey?

At 10:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

edmondo, it wasn't a dissertation on ALL the shithole states. There are about 35 at present.

And, yes, I've been to NJ. Outside of the Newark area, it's quite beautiful... in spite of its politics. Too bad Newark has to spoil the image for the whole state.

If you've ever been to WY, you'd know it lacks anything close to "beauty" except for the blue enclave(s) in the mountains and, of course, Yellowstone. But I could say the same for an awful (literally) lot of other shithole states.

At 12:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Pinboard, Maciej Cegłowski, did a profile on Twitter of Travis Helm, who is running as one of the Dem candidates for the House seat. He's had a small fundraising boost since May -- at least $13,000 (still a far cry from what he'll need). Hard to believe, but Gary Trauner came within 1,000 votes, less than 0.5% of winning the state in 2006.

At 6:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excuse me, but Anonymous at 10:16 am, you have evidently never been to Wyoming. I live in northwest Wyoming, and we certainly have more beauty than your description of a blue enclave. If you had been here, you would see places of beauty you would not find anywhere else. It is hard being a Progressive in Wyoming, but I was born and raised here and I have seen places you could only dream of. I hope you never bother to set foot in Wyoming, as we do not need anyone like you here. There are a lot of Progressives here, but we are totally outnumbered as you know. Unfortunately, most live in a fantasy world and tRump is their ideal fantasy president.

At 6:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, Wyoming is not a shithole. I wonder where you live, Anonymous at 10:16 and you also Anonymous at 6:23. Tell us how beautiful your states are.

At 6:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

6:34, I'm from Colo. I've travelled through shithole WY often. It's a shithole. Not because of lack of natural beauty, which can be found. It's a shithole because of the people, their worship of money over everything else, their hatred of all who don't "seem" like them (white, straight, stupid...), and what they've allowed money to do to their fragile ecosystems.

Also, when you drive from a neighboring state into WY, you don't need a sign. You can tell by the condition of the road changing from 'marginal' to 'shitholey'.

NW WY? Yellowstone is your buffer. Go spend time in rock springs or Gillette.

At 6:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1:10, the only other place I've seen drive-up windows for beer and wine was New Zealand. they also had random road blocks where every driver takes a breathalyzer. Probably a cause/effect thing in some form.


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