Sunday, December 28, 2008

Wyoming: A Prosaic Triangulation Theory

South Pass Road
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
This has been a long time coming...

On Election Day, I took my "Obama" sign down by 7:00 p.m.—an hour or so after the polls closed in Wyoming. I had decided days earlier that's what I'd do no matter the outcome. Besides it was dark outside by that time.

The election night returns were to start pouring in my 7:00 Eastern Time and once they did, the results came quickly—quicker than many expected. I was glad. I didn't want to see McCain's campaign experience a slow death. Sure I wanted Obama to win, but I wanted him to win big. No ugly recounts in Florida or Ohio. No special meetings of the Supreme Court. Just one big, fat win for Mr. O.

I had promised our girls that if NPR projected an Obama win, I would shout everyone milkshakes. And once the announcement came, I was off on my bike for the goods. By the time I returned, McCain was finishing his concession speech.

How fast did defeat or victory come? Faster than a slow carry out order at McDonalds.

Before it was clear that Obama had surpassed the magical 270 electoral votes required, it was even clearer that Wyoming's two senate seats were going to be won easily by the Republicans. Further, its lone Congressional seat (that was almost won by a Democrat two years earlier), eluded Gary Trauner once again only this time it was a new and improved Barbara Cubin—aka Cynthia Lummis who defeated him and proudly boasted to the media afterwards that Dick Cheney will be her mentor. Wow.

Which brings me to a little triangulation theory I came up with.

As it turns out, President-elect Obama suffered his worst defeat of the night at the hands of the Cowboy State—only 33% of Wyoming's voting electorate darkened their oval for the former "community organizer." The state that simply claims to be OK, Oklahoma, was a close second giving him only 34% of their votes. Even the folks of Arizona and Alaska (McCain and Palin's respective states) were more generous to the senator from Illinois. Throughout the month leading up to November 4, I watched the polls and was puzzled to see that Utah was projected as the most anti-Obama state with less than 30%.

Sadly, I was reassured that Wyoming beat out Utah in the anti-Obama votes once the polls closed on November 4.

So, while Obama and the country talked about and embraced a change in the country's direction, things were going to remain the same regarding the Cowboy State—as usual. Conservative to the bone, and in my opinion, to a fault.

All of this reminded me of an article I read earlier in October from the Billings Gazette—the headline read, "Wyomingites come up short in study of personality traits." Maybe you read it.

It was a study that was published in the September issue of the academic journal Perspectives on Psychological Science. The prevalence of five personality traits were mapped to all of the states including the District of Columbia and sadly, Wyoming scored no better than 48th (out of 51) in three of the five areas. These three areas of deficiency were "openness" (how open to new ideas and new experiences people are), agreeableness (how friendly and cooperative people are), and conscientiousness (how dutiful and reliable people are). Perhaps the only good news from the study for Wyoming is that as a people, we're not very neurotic (how prone to anxiety and stress people are) compared to most of the nation.

Then there is the "Republican for a Reason" advertisements that kept on appearing in my hometown newspaper the Powell Tribune leading up to Election Day. Perhaps you're one of the lucky few to have read them, "If you think Wyoming has a better quality of life than just about anywhere else in the country, we agree." Below that reads, "It's no coincidence that 75% of the top elected leaders in Wyoming are Republicans." As if life in Wyoming is good because of an abundance of Republican politicians?

And how do we get Republican leaders? I suspect there are many folk who consider themselves Republicans casting such votes.

So, what do we have here? First of all, Wyoming led the charge against the man who easily won the Presidency. In other words while most of the country was making a gradual turn to the left, our state made a hard right. Well, that makes sense given the study that basically says we are close-minded, not very friendly or cooperative (see Dick Cheney) and self-centered. What else are we as a people—oh yes, Republican... for a reason.

Do I have to spell it out?

If George W. Bush could run for another term despite his boondoggled presidency, he'd still get re-elected if all he had to count on was Wyoming.