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Obama And The 'burbs


The fist presidential election I remember is 1980. On Election Day morning, as the kids in my second grade class lined up outside the door, we started chanting for our favored candidates, who of course were our parents' favorite candidates. My friend Andy and I chanted "Anderson!" (For you really young youngsters, that would be John Anderson, liberal Republican turned third-party candidate.) The rest of the class chanted "Reagan!" Nobody chanted "Carter." And in fact Andy's parents were voting Reagan, too, but he idiosyncratically decided to support Anderson on the basis of liking what he saw in one televised speech. The upshot is, every parent in my class except mine voted for Reagan that year. It was Oakland County, Michigan, the bastion of suburban Republicanism. In 1988, my high school held a mock election, and George Bush beat Michael Dukakis by about a 2-to-1 margin.

I mention this because Stan Greenberg wrote an op-ed the other day noting a fact I hadn't seen: Barack Obama won Oakland County this year by 15 points. As Greenberg pointed out, "From 1972 to 1988, Democratic presidential candidates in their best years lost the county by 20 points." The mind reels.

--Jonathan Chait