A Blue Stater Travels Through Red States ... The Story Continues
Dateline: Atlanta, Ga.
I know that Georgia is safely a Red State in the upcoming presidential election. But judging from the staff at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and at our downtown Atlanta hotel, one might have guessed we were in Kerry country.
Now, that might have been because this particular population was disproportionately African-American, and Kerry, if nothing else, scores well with "hyphenated Americans." Or it might have been because this particular population is paid an hourly wage, and may have realized Bushonomics hasn't helped them, or that millions recently lost their chance to earn overtime, possibly including them. Whatever the reason, Kerry-Edwards buttons were plainly in sight.
On the drive to suburban Roswell for a family barbeque, Bush-Cheney posters were prevalent, and it seemed there were as many "W" bumper stickers as there were 4X4s on Route 75. The local radio, as I've previously noted*, was well stocked with Rush Limbaugh and local wannabes.
The BBQ attendees were all in town for my cousin's wedding the next day, so this was hardly a local crowd. In fact, after a few hours of conversations and how-do-you-dos, it became clear that our group was slightly more Christian than Jewish, slightly more Southern than Northern, slightly more male than female, and surprisingly, slightly more Democrat than Republican.
It was actually kind of funny. You had a bunch of folks from Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland and Florida, who were clearly Democrats. You could hear it in the conversations. And, as the World Series was to start that night, it also appeared that the Democrats among us were universally rooting for the Red Sox.
Meanwhile, you had a cluster of apolitical partiers discussing college football, coming into the great room and asking to have the channel flipped to the Alabama-Tennessee or Florida State-Wake Forest games (I think the Georgia game had already finished by the time we'd all arrived). This group was decidedly more male, Southern and Christian ... and apparently uninterested in politics.
Now, I don't want you to get the wrong idea. I wasn't taking copious notes. I can't account for everyone in attendance. No polls were taken that night. Just observations and mental notes as I made my way about the party, stumbling upon the middle of one conversation or another. I didn't talk politics myself (possibly jet lag, or because my wife and I were busy watching our three-year-old), but over a four-hour period, it seemed as if the majority of attendees had on some level made their intentions clear.
And so, yes, maybe I'm stereotyping, and maybe no reasonable conclusions can be drawn from a single party in suburban Atlanta. But it sure did seem as if the Democrats among us were a lot more motivated by the news of the day than the (assumed) Republicans, who just wanted to watch football.
Earlier today, the morning after the wedding, I saw the first true-blue Bush fan in the crowd: my aunt's 16-year-old great nephew (no relation to my side of the family). He didn't really have much of a reason for supporting the president ... apparently he thinks Bush is cool.
He's from Florida. Sigh.
* To read the other eight parts of this series, go to the August and September archives.