Election Preview Bonus D.C. Edition And Electoral College Prediction

In the 50 days leading up to tomorrow’s election, I profiled each of the 50 states and previewed what is on the ballot and how they are likely to vote. All of the posts can be found here

51. District of Columbia

Motto: Justita Omnibus

(Justice for All)

About the District

Article I Section 8 of the Constitution allows for the creation of a District, outside of any state, which could act as the seat of the Federal Government, but it does not specify where it should be located. On July 9th, 1790, the Residence Act was passed by Congress that approved the building of the national capital on the Potomac River, taking part of the land for it from Maryland, the rest from Virginia, which later received the territory back. Much of the work on the construction of Washington D.C. was performed by enslaved African-Americans, a fact that Congress commemorated with a plaque inside the U.S. Capitol in 2010.

In August of 1814, during the War of 1812, the British burned several public buildings, including the White House, Capitol and Treasury – most of which were reconstructed quickly, with the exception of the Capitol, which was not finished until 1868. President Lincoln created the Army of the Potomac during the Civil War to ensure that the Union’s capital was not captured by Confederate forces during the conflict. In 1862, Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act that ended slavery in the District, which resulted in many free black people moving there and it saw a sharp rise in population. Shortly after the Civil War had ended, on April 14th, 1865 President Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth in Ford’s Theatre in Washington, during a production of Our American Cousin.

The ratification of the Twenty-First Amendment in 1961 provided Washington D.C. with three votes in the Electoral College, providing its citizens – who have no Senators and only a non-voting at-large Representative in the House – with their first representation of any form in the Federal Government. The District of Columbia Home Rule Act, passed in 1973, provided the city with an elected Mayor and a 13-member council. Washington has four “Big Four” sports teams – the Washington Capitals (NHL); Wizards (NBA); Nationals (MLB) and the Washington Redskins (NFL), whose last home game has been indicative of the Presidential election result. Since they moved to the Capital in 1937, when the Redskins have won their last home contest prior to Election Day, the incumbent party have kept the Presidency, lose and the White House has shifted between the Democratic and Republican Parties. This has held true for 17 of the 18 ballots that have taken place in that time – the exception being President Bush’s re-election in 2004 after the ‘Skins had lost – which is bad news for President Obama, as the final score on Sunday was Carolina Panthers 21, Washington Redskins 13.

Presidential Race

Electoral College Votes: 3

2008 Result: Obama 92.9% McCain 6.5%

Latest Poll: No Recent Polls

The District of Columbia has voted for the Democratic candidate in every single contest since it was granted Electoral College Votes in 1961. That will not change this time around, as President Obama will win the District’s 3 ECVs this time around.

Electoral College Prediction

The last few days, Fox News and their pundits have been pushing forth theories that early voting numbers for President Obama are far below what they were in 2008 and, even though he is behind right now, this is meant to be indicative that Mitt Romney will win as Republicans perform better on Election Day. I also have a fear that the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey could result in a low turnout and – given that the majority of the ongoing power outages are in areas of the state that were strongly Democratic in 2008 – a surprise win for Governor Romney. Plus, there have been reports from Miami of polling stations being closed to prevent people from being able to cast their ballots yesterday, obstruction that is likely to intensify on the actual day of the election.

However, for my predictions, I am going to try to stick to my feelings of how each state would go based on how the polls were moving – as well as some gut instinct – and the pessimism I have I will put down to my lifelong support for Tottenham Hotspur, who just instill that emotion in their fans…

Romney Wins:

Safe: Alabama; Mississippi; Georgia; Louisiana; Arkansas; South Carolina; Missouri; Tennessee; Kentucky; West Virginia; Oklahoma; Nebraska; Kansas; North Dakota; South Dakota; Arizona; Utah; Idaho; Wyoming; Montana; Texas; Indiana; Alaska.

Swing States: North Carolina; Florida; Colorado

Total Electoral College Votes: 244

Obama Wins:

Safe: Maine; Massachusetts; Connecticut; Rhode Island; Vermont; New York; New Jersey; Delaware; Maryland; District of Columbia; Illinois; Minnesota; New Mexico; California; Oregon; Washington; Hawai’i.

Swing: New Hampshire; Pennsylvania; Wisconsin; Michigan; Ohio; Virginia; Nevada; Iowa.

Total Electoral College Votes: 294

50 States in 50 Days Election Preview: 50. Hawai’i

In the 50 days leading up to the election on November 6th, I have been doing a profile of the 50 states and previewing what is on the ballot and how they are likely to vote. All of the posts can be found here

50. Hawai’i

Capital: Honolulu

Nickname: The Aloha State

Motto: Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ʻĀina i ka Pono

(The Life Of The Land Is Perpetuated In Righteousness)

About the State

The islands that make up Hawai’i are the world’s most isolated land mass, located in the Pacific Ocean nearly 2,400 miles from California and more than 3,800 miles from Japan. The first settlers to the archipelago were estimated to have arrived more than 2,000 years ago and are believed to have travelled from the Marquesas Islands – in Southern Polynesia – in double hulled canoes, a journey that would have taken at least four months, without any opportunities for stocking up on food or water. The society on the islands developed mostly secluded from the rest of the world, until Captain James Cook sighted O’ahu in 1778 on his third expedition in search of a northwest passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The arrival of the British explorer resulted in the introduction of venereal diseases to the island and, when Cook returned to Hawai’i – which he named the Sandwich Islands, after the 4th Earl of Sandwich – in 1779, he ended up in battle with the natives after taking the King of the Big Island hostage, in an attempt to secure the return of a boat that had been stolen. In the ensuing skirmish, Cook was killed, along with four of his men and 17 Hawaiians.

Up until 1810 the islands had been individually ruled, but were then united by King Kamehameha I, who had been the Chief of the Big Island and undertook a twenty year military and diplomatic campaign to take over the entire chain. After his death in 1819, he was replaced by his son, Liholiho, who became Kamehameha II and abolished the kapu system in Hawai’i, which had such arcane rules as men and women not being allowed to eat together. During the 1830s, foreigners recognised the potential for growing sugar in Hawai’i and the influx of labourers to work in the industry led to the spread of diseases such as smallpox, typhoid and influenza, causing a sharp decline in the native population. When the Civil War broke out in the USA, the northern states could no longer obtain sugar from the south, so turned to Hawai’i for the product instead. Although sales decreased after the conflict ended in 1865, a reciprocity treaty that ended import taxes for the Kingdom of Hawai’i, while giving the US control of Pearl Harbor, resulted in a production boom and by 1883, the island chain’s output of sugar reached 114 million pounds.

In 1887, King Kalakaua was forced by revolutionaries to sign the Bayonet Constitution, stripping him of most of his powers and which also restricted voting to the rich, white, land owners. After Kalakaua had died, his sister, Queen Lili’uokalani began to draft a new constitution that would give the monarchy back its control but, in 1893, she was overthrown by a group known as the Honolulu Rifles, who received backup by sailors from the USS Boston that had been docked in Honolulu. Lili’uoklanai, wanting no bloodshed, stepped down under protest and was replaced by a provisional government – 18 months later, the Republic of Hawai’i was declared.

In July of 1898, President McKinley signed a resolution approving the annexation of Hawai’i to the United States, in part because of the Spanish-American War that had broken out three months earlier and required US troops to cross the Pacific to fight in the Philippines, making the island chain a perfect staging post for the conflict. On December 7th, 1941, forty-one years after Hawai’i had officially become a US Territory, Pearl Harbor and other military installations on O’ahu were attacked by Japanese planes, resulting in the deaths of more than 3,000 people and pushing the United States into World War II. After several attempts at statehood had failed, on August 21st, 1959, President Eisenhower signed the admission act that made Hawai’i the 50th state of the Union, the last (thus far) to join.

Although there are hundreds in the archipelago, Hawai’i has 8 main islands: Ni’ihau, Kaua’i, O’ahu, Moloka’i, Lana’i, Kaho’olawe, Maui and Hawai’i – also known as the Big Island. From west to east, the state spans 1,500 miles, while its land area is the 8th smallest in the US and, with more 1.3 million residents, it ranks 40th in population. Hawai’i’s main economic sectors are tourism and agriculture, with its main outputs being pineapples, macadamia nuts, livestock and coffee – the last of which it is the only state in the USA to produce. There are many volcanoes in the state and Kilauea – on the Big Island – is considered one of the world’s largest and most active. One President of the United States was born in Hawai’i – Barack Obama (yes, he was) – who returned to the state, after he had left with his mother at less than a month old, to attend high school in Honolulu. It is one of four states that had been independent prior to becoming part of the United States, along with Vermont, Texas and California.

Presidential Race

Electoral College Votes: 4

2008 Result: Obama 71.8% McCain 26.6%

Latest Poll: Obama +27%

Since becoming a state in 1959, Hawai’i has voted for the Republican candidate in Presidential elections twice – Richard Nixon in 1972 and Ronald Reagan in 1984, both of which were landslides where the incumbent President carried 49 of the 50 states. In the other 11 contests, the Democratic Party have taken its Electoral College Votes and will again, as Hawai’ian born President Obama has a huge lead in the polls.

Also on the Ballot

Congress: There is one Senate contest in Hawai’i this year, with incumbent Democrat Sen. Daniel Akaka (D) not seeking re-election after serving for 23 years. The race to replace him is between Rep. Mazie Hirono (D) and Republican, Linda Lingle, who served as Governor of the state between 2002 and 2010. Hirono is expected to win the election and keep the seat for the Democratic Party.

Hawai’i has two Representatives in the House, with both of the current delegation being female Democrats. With Hirono contesting the open Senate seat, 31-year-old Tulsi Gabbard is the Democratic Party’s candidate in the 2nd District this November and she is expected to beat the Republican, David Crowley.

50 States in 50 Days Election Preview: 49. Alaska

In the 50 days leading up to the election on November 6th, I will be doing a profile of the 50 states and previewing what is on the ballot and how they are likely to vote. All of the posts so far can be found here

49. Alaska

Capital: Juneau

Nickname: The Last Frontier

Motto: North to the Future

About the State

Prior to the arrival of settlers from the Old World, Alaska was home to numerous groups of indigenous people, including the Tingit, Inuit and Aleut – the latter tribe lost more than 80% of their population when they were exposed to new diseases from the pioneers, against which they had no natural immunity.  Russian explorers in the 18th century were the first recorded Europeans to set foot in the region and they were able to traverse from their homeland on foot during the winter, over what is now known as the Bering Land Bridge.  In 1784, Grigory Ivanovich Shelikhov established Russia’s first settlement in the region, at Three Saints Bay on Kodiak Island, with several more being set up in the next few years.  The Russians were primarily focused on whaling and the fur trade, gaining a monopoly on access to sea otters, who were particularly valuable due to the thickness of their fur.  Spain and Britain also both attempted to colonise Alaska but – even though Russia never fully achieved that aim either, with the population of Russian-America reaching just 700 at its peak – it was able to hold on to control of trade in the region.

In 1867, for fear of the region getting into British hands and because of financial troubles in their homeland, Russia agreed to sell Alaska to the United States for $7.2 million.  Originally the purchase was considered to be a frivolous waste of money – referred to as “Seward’s Folly”, after Secretary of State, William Seward, who had instigated the transaction –  but the discovery of natural resources that followed proved it to be a fantastic acquisition.   Gold was found in the Yukon Territory of Canada in 1896, which helped the Alaskan economy as it provided the easiest transportation route to and from there; and the precious metal was also unearthed in Nome three years later.  The gold rush in Alaska resulted in the establishment of more towns, including Fairbanks, and in 1903, construction began on a railroad in the district, to aid transportation of goods.

The Territory of Alaska was organised by Congress in 1912 and at the time there was very little interest in them becoming a state, even from those who lived there.  During the Second World War, the Japanese launched an attack on Dutch Harbor, on Unalaksa Island, in 1942 and, although this failed, they captured two of the Aleutian Islands – Kiska and Attu – in the subsequent days.  Both were regained by the US the following year and, in order to provide more protection to Alaska, military bases were constructed in the territory, which also had the effect of increasing the population.  In order to make it easier to send supplies from the United States during the war to their allies the Soviet Union, the Alaska-Canada Military Highway was constructed in 1942, which was the first overland connection between itself and the mainland.

On January 3rd, 1959, Alaska became the 49th state of the Union.  It is the biggest in area and, with just over 700,000 residents – the fourth fewest – it is the least densely populated in the United States, with just 1.26 citizens per square mile.  Oil has been a major driving force in Alaska’s economy, with various discoveries of the fuel there in the last century, but that has not been without its drawbacks.  In 1989, the Exxon Valdez tanker ran aground and spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil into the sea, affecting more than 1,000 miles of coastline and decimating the local wildlife.  The energy sector – which includes natural gas as well as oil – accounts for four-fifths of the state’s economy, with the remainder primarily consisting of shipping; exporting seafood, particularly salmon, cod and crab; and tourism.  There are (unsurprisingly) no “Big Four” franchises in the state, whose official state sport is dog mushing.

Presidential Race

Electoral College Votes: 3

2008 Result: McCain 59.8% Obama 38.0%

Latest Poll: No recent poll data

Alaska has voted for a Democrat in a Presidential election just once since it became a state – giving its 3 Electoral College Votes to Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 – with the GOP winning all of the other 12 contests, including in 2008, when Sen. John McCain’s running mate was the previously little known Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin.  The Republican’s winning streak is not going to end this time around as polling is not even being done in a state which is sure to be won by Governor Romney.

Also on the Ballot

Congress: There is no Senate election in Alaska this year and the state has just one Representative in the House, with the incumbent, Rep. Don Young, seeking a twenty-first term in office, having first been elected in 1973.  The Democratic candidate is Sharon Cissna, but polls favour Young remaining in Congress for at least another two years.

50 States in 50 Days Election Preview: 48. Arizona

In the 50 days leading up to the election on November 6th, I will be doing a profile of the 50 states and previewing what is on the ballot and how they are likely to vote. All of the posts so far can be found here

48. Arizona

Capital: Phoenix

Nickname: The Grand Canyon State

Motto: Ditat Deus

(God Enriches)

About the State

Like New Mexico, Arizona was originally under Spanish rule, then became part of Mexico after their War of Independence of 1821, before transferring to the United States as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that ended the Mexican-American War in 1848.  Originally, the present day state was part of the New Mexico Territory, which was expanded to its current borders in 1853, when President Franklin Pierce sent James Gadsden to Mexico City to negotiate the Sale of La Mesilla, which involved the purchase of the southern part of Arizona – as well as the southwestern tip of New Mexico – in order for the US to expand the transcontinental railroad into the region.  With the increased area and population, proposals were made for the division of the Territory, either with a north-to-south border, or west-to-east.  In the midst of the Civil War it ended up being split both ways – the Union considered Arizona Territory the western part of the former New Mexico Territory, while the Confederates claimed the southern part under the same name.  In 1863, President Lincoln signed a bill that officially organised the Arizona Territory with its current boundaries

Following the Civil War – which had one conflict in Arizona, the Battle of Picacho Pass, the westernmost skirmish of the campaign – Texans migrated to the region and introduced ranching, and there was a copper boom in the Territory in the 1880s, after a smelter had been opened there and national demand increased for the metal in electrical wiring.  Arizona’s economy grew further when the railroads reached there that same decade, while the territory was also at the heart of the “Wild West”.  One of the most notorious towns during that period was Tombstone, which was the site of the infamous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, when outlaw cowboys, Billy Clanton and Tom & Frank McLaury were killed by the lawmen, Virgil, Morgan and Wyatt Earp, who were aided by Doc Holliday.

On February 14th, 1912, Arizona became the 48th state of the Union and the last of the continental ones to join.  John Wesley Powell had written about his exploration of the Colorado River, including his trek through the Grand Canyon, in 1869 and when the Santa Fe Railroad reached the South Rim in 1901, it opened up the natural wonder to more visitors.  Alongside tourism, the state’s modern-day economy revolves around mining – particularly of copper – and agriculture, with its main outputs being cotton, cattle, broccoli and dairy products.  In its more recent history, Arizona has been known for the passing of the controversial SB 1070 – a bill that allows law enforcement officers to racially profile people they suspect of being illegal immigrants – and for the shooting in Tuscon in January 2011, in which Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was targeted and shot through the head – yet somehow survived – but six other people were killed.

Arizona is the sixth largest state in area and, with just under 6.5 million residents, ranks 16th in terms of population.  There are four “Big Four” sports teams located there, one in each league: the Arizona Cardinals (NFL); Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB); Phoenix Coyotes (NHL); and the Phoenix Suns (NBA).  The state is also home to half of the Major League Baseball teams each February and March for the Grapefruit League in Spring Training.  In 1968, London Bridge – which had traversed the River Thames in the capital of the United Kingdom – was sold to Robert McCulloch, who reconstructed it in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, though he vehemently denied later British claims that he had mistaken it for the more majestic Tower Bridge.

Presidential Race

Electoral College Votes: 11

2008 Result: McCain 53.8% Obama 45.0%

Latest Poll: Romney +8%

Arizona has been won by the Democratic candidate in a Presidential election just once since 1948, with President Clinton carrying the state in his 1996 re-election.  If Governor Romney failed to win this state it would be a huge surprise and the odds are on him being victorious there and gaining its 11 Electoral College Votes.

Also on the Ballot

Congress: There is one Senate election in Arizona this year, with incumbent Sen. John Kyl (R) not seeking re-election after serving the state for three terms.  The race to replace him is between current House of Representatives member, Jeff Flake (R), and Democrat Richard Carmona, with the contest currently considered a toss-up, but Flake having a narrow lead in the most recent polls.

After redistricting as a result of the 2010 census, the number of Representatives in the House Arizona has will increase by 1 to 9.  The current delegation is made up of 3 Democrats and 5 Republicans, with the Democratic Party expected to pick up the new district and possibly one more of the GOP seats in the 1st or 2nd district.

50 States in 50 Days Election Preview: 47. New Mexico

In the 50 days leading up to the election on November 6th, I will be doing a profile of the 50 states and previewing what is on the ballot and how they are likely to vote. All of the posts so far can be found here

47. New Mexico

Capital: Santa Fe

Nickname: Land of Enchantment

Motto: Crescit Eundo

(It Grows As It Goes)

About the State

Before European settlers arrived in the region, New Mexico was home to many different tribes of Native Americans, including the Apache, Navajo and Pueblo people.  In the 16th century, explorers from the Spanish colony of Mexico traversed the land and the Province of Nuevo Mexico was established in 1598, along with the first colony of San Juan de los Caballeros.  Spain had set out to exploit the indigenous population and their resources, whilst also preventing them from practicing their religion, however the co-existed peacefully for many years as the colonists also provided new farming implements for the Pueblo and a level of protection to them against other Native American nations.  This changed in the 1670s, when a drought hit the area and led to famine, as well as more raids from nomadic tribes and in 1680, the Pueblo revolted against the European colonists, driving them out of New Mexico under the leadership of Popé – who had previously been arrested by the Spanish on suspicion of witchcraft.  The absence only lasted 12 years before the Spanish returned to Santa Fe – which is the oldest capital city in the United States – and took back control without any bloodshed.

Spain retained possession until 1821, when Mexico achieved its independence and the region remained part of the new country, until the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 ended the Mexican-American war and ceded Alta California and Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico to the United States.  The northeastern part of the newly acquired area had been previously claimed by Texas, but in the Compromise of 1850, they gave up the land in exchange for $15 million.  That same year, Congress organised the New Mexico Territory, which also included the future state of Arizona and part of Colorado.

With a population of over 60,000 in 1850, New Mexico sought statehood and its proposed constitution included a provision to allow the people of the territory to determine if slavery was to be permitted or not, but the divide in Congress over the issue ultimately resulted in the tabling of the bill that would have made it a state in 1861.  During the Civil War, New Mexico became the western front of the conflict between the Confederates and the Union, with both claiming the Territory as their own.  In 1862, while trying to forge a path to California, which was controlled by the north, the Confederate Army defeated the Union in the Battle of Glorieta Pass.  Nevertheless, the south’s supply train was destroyed by their opponents and many of their horses and mules were killed or driven away, forcing the Confederates to ultimately withdraw all the way back to Texas.

At the same time as the Civil War was being waged primarily in the eastern part of the United States, conflict was also occurring between the US army and the Navajo people in the New Mexico Territory.  The indigenous tribe lived in the region that now covers the Four Corners – the meeting place of the states of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah – and believed their homeland – located in the midst of four mountains, one in each of the cardinal directions – to be sacred and thus the Navajo sought to defend it from raids by other tribes and the military.  The US had established Fort Defiance in New Mexico Territory (in an area that is now part of the state of Arizona) and, believing they were bringing in troops to wage war against them, the Navajo, led by Manuelito and Barboncito, attacked the Fort in 1860.  Following this, the army pursued a course of relocating the Native Americans to a reservation in southeast New Mexico, known as Bosque Redondo.  As the Navajo were unwilling to leave their sacred land, the US army – under the leadership of Brigadier General James Carleton and Kit Carlson – pursued a “scorched earth” policy, forcing them to move by burning their crops, homes and sheep, leaving them starving and without shelter.

Starting in 1864, thousands of Native Americans were forced to make the Long Walk to Bosque Redondo – during which they were subjected to brutality by the troops who accompanied them, with a shoot-to-kill policy in place to quell anyone who showed dissidence, young Navajo girls raped and pregnant women shot if they were unable to keep up.  Alongside this barbaric treatment, they also faced other  travails on the long journey, such as the crossing of Rio Grande, which resulted in many drowning as they were unable to swim; there was little food available; and they faced attacks from other tribes along the way.  Around 53 separate journeys were made by groups of Navajo, with an estimated 2500 dying en route and a further 8500 held at Bosque Redondo, where they continued to face terrible conditions.  The US had incorrectly assumed that the Navajo, who were primarily hunters and warriors, could adapt to be farmers like the Pueblo people, and those held on the reservation suffered diseases, starvation following a drought, and raids from other Native American nations.  In 1868, a Peace Commission was dispatched from Washington – including the Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman – and, following an impassioned plea by Barbancito, a treaty was signed that allowed the Navajo to return to their sacred homeland.

In 1878, the Santa Fe Railroad reached New Mexico and the territory grew rapidly over the next 30 years, helped by an irrigation project in the Pecos Valley 1889, which encouraged farmers, cattle ranchers and miners to migrate to the area.  On January 6th, 1912, New Mexico became the 47th state of the Union, its current population of just over 2 million residents ranks 36th in the country, while it is the 5th largest of the 50.  During the Second World War, Los Alamos was the location for the development of the world’s first atomic bombs, with the weapons being tested at the Trinity Site in the middle of the New Mexico desert.

Its economy is now based around energy, where it ranks third in the nation for the production of crude oil and natural gas; agriculture, with its main outputs being cattle, dairy products, pecans and chile peppers; and Federal Government jobs, in particular the military, as three air force bases are located in the state.  The first space tourism company, Virgin Galactic, has its world headquarters in Las Cruces and is in the final stages of testing its aircraft before it will send ordinary citizens into space – with Stephen Hawkings, Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie all reportedly being ticket-holders.  Aside from trips to the cosmos, New Mexico is also a place to go if you enjoy funny place names – the town of “Truth or Consequences” is just South of “Elephant Butte”.  It also cannot be left unmentioned that Albuquerque is the setting and filming location for AMC’s Breaking Bad, the TV show about a chemistry teacher turned meth cook.

Presidential Race

Electoral College Votes: 5

2008 Result: Obama 56.7% McCain 42.0%

Latest Poll: Obama +9%

Democrats have won New Mexico in 4 of the last 5 Presidential elections, with the once exception being in 2004 when President Bush carried the state.  Prior to Bill Clinton winning there in 1992, GOP candidates had recorded six consecutive victories there, but the new trend appears likely to continue, with President Obama having a strong lead in the polls for this November’s contest.

Also on the Ballot

Congress: There is one Senate election in New Mexico this year, with Sen. Jeff Bingaman, who has served since 1982, not seeking re-election.  The race to replace him is between Democrat Martin Heinrich, who is currently serving in the House of Representative for the state’s 1st District; and one of his predecessors in that role, Republican Heather Wilson, who was a Congresswoman for 10 years from 1998 onwards.  Heinrich currently has a 10 point lead in the polls and the seat is expected to be held by the Democratic Party.

The state has 3 Representatives in the House, of which 2 are Democrats with 1 Republican, a ratio that is expected to remain the same after this November’s ballot.

50 States in 50 Days Election Preview: 46. Oklahoma

In the 50 days leading up to the election on November 6th, I will be doing a profile of the 50 states and previewing what is on the ballot and how they are likely to vote. All of the posts so far can be found here

46. Oklahoma

Capital: Oklahoma City

Nickname: Sooner State

Motto: Labor Omnia Vincit

(Hard Work Conquers All)

About the State

The first European to explore Oklahoma was the Spaniard, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, in the 16th century, yet it was the French who later claimed the region, making it part of their Louisiana Territory.  The French ceded control of the land to Spain in the Treaty of Fontainebleau at the end of the Seven Years’ War in 1762, Napoleon then reclaimed it in 1800, before selling the entire colony to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase three years later.  At that time, the area had been home to Native Americans from various nations including the Wichita and Apache, but other tribes from the east coast were later pushed out there by the Federal Government.  In 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, which sought treaties with the Native Americans to move outside of the United States and into what was called “Indian Territory” – located in what is now eastern Oklahoma.  The Choctaw and Chickasaw realised the inevitability of the move and migrated west; the Seminoles in Florida did sign a treaty, but it was not agreed to by the tribe and they fought two wars, losing most of their number and those that did survive were ultimately forced to the new territory; and the Creek and Cherokee were removed by the US military – the latter tribe lost 4,000 men during the march on what is called the “Trail of Tears”.

The majority of the population of Indian Territory was Native Americans, but they also held around 8,400 black slaves and during the Civil War, there were both pro and anti-slavery factions within the territory.  Congress passed a law that tribes would lose their appropriation money allocated to them by treaties, should they be act in a hostile manner towards the United States so, while there was no outright rebellion, there was a simultaneous internal war over the issue of slavery within the Cherokee Nation.  In the reconstruction period that followed the Civil War, the Federal Government attempted to pursue a policy of assimilation with the Native American tribes, rather than one of separation, and agreements were made for cowboys to lead their cattle drives across the land; for railroads to pass through the Territory; and for some areas being opened up for white settlers.  When previously unassigned areas were made available for settlement under the Homestead Act, it was done on a first-come, first-served basis which resulted in “land runs”, the most famous one occurred in Oklahoma on April 22nd, 1889, when 50,000 people raced to stake their claim to piece of the available two million acres.  Some people cheated and took over a plot before the designated time, which earned them the moniker “Sooners” – which has since become the nickname of the state.

In 1890, the Oklahoma Territory was organised by Congress, in the western part of the state and adjacent to Indian Territory.  The leaders of the Indian Territory attempted to form their own state – Sequoyah – in 1902, but this was unsuccessful as the United States government wished for the two territories to join as one if they were to enter the Union.  Ultimately the leaders agreed to this and, on November 16th, 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt made Oklahoma the 46th state of the USA, which included the areas of both former Territories.

In the 1920s, there were several oil fields discovered in the state and it produced a boon to the economy which lasted until the Great Depression.   The downward trend of the economy was exacerbated by what was called the Dust Bowl Era, during which dust storms blew away fertile soil from arable land and, combined with droughts and poor agricultural processes, left farmers unable to grow crops and resulted in many fleeing the state.  Oklahoma’s economy continued to be based around oil until the 1980s, since when a decline has seen other sectors overtake energy, although it is still the fifth biggest producer of crude oil in the nation and ranks third in natural gas.  Other major industries are aviation, the state is the global home of the maintenance and engineering departments for American Airlines; transportation equipment, where it has the highest output of tires in the country; food processing; and it also has a growing biotechnology sector.

Oklahoma is the 20th largest of the fifty states and, with just under 3.8 million residents, ranks 28th in terms of population.  There is one “Big Four” sports team located there, the Oklahoma City Thunder of the NBA, who were Western Conference champions last season, but lost in the Finals to the Miami Heat.  The capital city is sadly best remembered as being the site of one of the worst terrorist attacks in the United States; in 1995, Timothy McVeigh carried out the Oklahoma City Bombing, using a truck bomb to blow up a Federal Building and killing 168 people, including 19 children, 15 of whom attended a day care that was in the structure.

Presidential Race

Electoral College Votes: 7

2008 Result: McCain 65.6% Obama 34.4%

Latest Poll: Romney +26%

Like Utah, Oklahoma has only voted for the Democratic candidate in a Presidential election once in the last fifteen contests – Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.  This is another safe state for Governor Romney, who has a huge lead in the polls in the state and is sure to carry it on November 6th.

Also on the Ballot

Congress: There are no Senate elections in Oklahoma this year.  The state has five Representatives in the House – the current delegation is made up of 1 Democrat and 4 Republicans, but the GOP are likely to sweep all five this time around, as Rep. Dan Boren (D) is not running for re-election in the 2nd District and the race to replace him between Rob Wallace (D) and Markwayne Mullin (R), is leaning towards the Republican candidate.

50 States in 50 Days Election Preview: 45. Utah

In the 50 days leading up to the election on November 6th, I will be doing a profile of the 50 states and previewing what is on the ballot and how they are likely to vote. All of the posts so far can be found here

45. Utah

Capital: Salt Lake City

Nickname: Beehive State

Motto: Industry

About the State

Prior to the arrival of European settlers, Utah was home to several tribes of Native Americans including the Shoshone, Ute and Navajo.  The first from the Old World to claim the area were the Spanish, who controlled the area from Mexico north into the modern-day United States, which they called Alta (Upper) California.  At the same time as the US was gaining Independence from Great Britain, Spanish explorers travelled as far as the Utah Lake when they were in search of the Pacific Ocean.  The region became part of Mexico when they gained their autonomy from Spain in 1821, then – under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, which ended the Mexican-American War – the United States gained control of Utah.

A year before it the region had officially been recognised as being part of America, members of the Church of Latter Day Saints – also known as the Mormons – under the leadership of Brigham Young, had entered the Salt Lake Valley and began the process of establishing settlements there.  The group – who had left Nauvoo, Illinois following the death of their founder, Joseph Smith – struggled to survive in the barren desert lands, but believed they had to be somewhere that remote in order to be free to practice their religion.  In 1849, Young wished to set up a government that would be accepted by the United States, so he sent John Milton Bernhisel to Washington D.C. to petition for the creation of the Territory of Deseret – which encompassed the area that included the modern-day states of Utah and Nevada, as well as parts of California, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and New Mexico.  The size of the suggested Territory was the main reason it failed but, the following year, as part of the Compromise of 1850 – which resolved the dispute between free and slave states about the land the US had acquired at the end of the Mexican-American War – the Utah Territory was organised, which included the current state’s borders, as well as the majority of Nevada.

During the late 1850s, President James Buchanan and others in the Federal Government were concerned of a rebellion by the Utah Territory, had issues with the theodemocracy that existed there under the Governorship of Brigham Young, and were particularly perturbed by the Mormons practicing polygamy.  This resulted in a conflict between the United States and members of the Latter Day Saints church which, although it involved no battles and was mostly resolved through negotiations, was not completely without bloodshed.  120 settlers heading for California from Arkansas were killed in southern Utah by Mormons in September of 1857 and, the following month, six Californians passing through the state were accused of being spies for the US Army and were killed.  After a lengthy standoff between the two parties, Young was replaced as Governor by Alfred Cumming and the matter was settled, but President Buchanan was heavily criticised for his handling of the situation, in particular for sending troops to the Territory to investigate an alleged rebellion, without ascertaining for sure that one existed.  Plural marriages in the Mormon community hindered Utah’s aspirations for statehood for many years and it was only after the LDS Manifesto of 1890, which ended the church’s approval of polygamy, that a renewed application was accepted, allowing Utah to become the 45th state of the Union on January 4th, 1896.

It is the 13th biggest state and, with just over 2.8 million residents, it ranks as the 34th most populous.  Tourism is one of its main economic sectors, with the state having five National Parks within its borders – Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Arches, Capitol Reef and Zion – alongside being popular for winter sports such as skiing.  The other major industries in Utah are agriculture, where its main products are hay, barley, corn and livestock; and the mining of minerals like copper, gold and silver, as well as fossil fuels, including coal, petroleum and natural gas.  There is one “Big Four” sports team located in Salt Lake City, the Utah Jazz of the NBA, while the town of Levan – which is “navel” spelled backwards – is in the geographic center of the state.

Presidential Race

Electoral College Votes: 6

2008 Result: McCain 62.9% Obama 34.2%

Latest Poll: Romney +51%

Governor Romney, a Mormon, will win Utah by a wide margin, but any Republican candidate would also emerge victorious from a state that has only voted for a Democrat in a Presidential election once in the last fifteen contests (LBJ in 1964).

Also on the Ballot

Congress: There is on Senate election in Utah this year, as Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) seeks re-election against his Democratic Party opponent, Scott Howell, with Hatch certain to win a seventh term in a state that hasn’t elected a Democrat to the Senate since the 1970s.

After redistricting following the 2010 census, the number of Representatives in the House that Utah has will be increased by one to four.  The current delegation is made up of one Democrats and two Republicans, with the race for the new, 4th district, currently a toss-up between Mia Howell (R) and Rep. Jim Matheson (D), who currently represents the 2nd district.

Gubernatorial: Governor Gary Herbert (R) is seeking re-election against Democratic challenger, Peter Cooke, with Herbert currently 36 points ahead in the polls and appears sure to secure a second term in office.

50 States in 50 Days Election Preview: 44. Wyoming

In the 50 days leading up to the election on November 6th, I will be doing a profile of the 50 states and previewing what is on the ballot and how they are likely to vote. All of the posts so far can be found here

44. Wyoming

Capital: Cheyenne

Nickname: Equality State

Motto: Equal Rights

About the State

Wyoming is the 10th largest state in the US and, with fewer than 600,000 residents, the least populated of the fifty.  Before the arrival of people from Europe, the region was home to Native Americans from various tribes including the Cheyenne, Crow and Sioux.  In the early 19th century, the Lewis and Clark expedition entered the area and one member of that group, John Clayton, is thought to be the first white person to have visited what is now Yellowstone National Park, though at the time his descriptions of thermal activity in the region were thought to be fictional.  Much of the early activity in the area was of pioneers passing through on the Oregon trail; prospectors heading to states where gold had been discovered, like California, Colorado or Montana; and also Mormons en route to Utah.  In 1865, the Battle of Tongue River – part of an ongoing conflict between the United States and Native Americans – was fought in Sheridan County and effectively completed the Powder River Expedition, a military operation by the US to quell uprisings from the Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapho tribes, following the Sand Creek Massacre in Colorado.

The population increased significantly after the Homestead Act of 1862 encouraged settlers to locate there to take advantages of the fertile ground for agriculture and space for open range cattle raising; and also following the extension of the Union Pacific Railroad to Cheyenne in 1867.  The following year, the Wyoming Territory was organised by Congressional Act and Yellowstone was designated as the nation’s first National Park in 1872.  Unlike its neighbours, Wyoming never experienced a population boom from a discovery of precious metals like gold within its borders and it was not until July 10th, 1890, that it became the 44th state of the Union.

Wyoming is the second least densely populated state – behind only Alaska – with an average of only 5.85 people per square mile.  There are no “Big Four” sports teams located there and no President or Vice-President has been born there, though VP Dick Cheney did attend High School in Casper.  The state’s economy is based around tourism, with more than six million people each year visiting places like Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks; the mining of coal, natural gas and crude oil; as well as agriculture, with 91% of the land in Wyoming being designated as rural and its major output being beef.  As a territory, Wyoming was the first in the United States to give women the vote, doing so in 1870, and it was also the first state to elect a female Governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross, who took office in 1925.

Presidential Race

Electoral College Votes: 3

2008 Result: McCain 65.2% Obama 31.7%

Latest Poll: No Recent Poll

Wyoming has gone to the Republican Candidate in 14 of the last 15 Presidential elections and this November it is so certain to go to Governor Romney, that they are not even bothering to do polls there.

Also on the Ballot

Congress: There is one Senate election in Wyoming this year, with Sen. John Barrasso (R) seeking re-election for a full term, after winning a special ballot in 2008 following the death of  Sen. Craig Thomas.  Barrasso’s opponent will be the Democratic Party candidate, Tim Chesnut, but in this GOP stronghold, there is no chance of the Republican being beaten.

There is one at-large district for Wyoming in the House of Representatives and the seat is currently held by Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R), who will win a third term over her Democratic Party opponent, Chris Henrichsen.

Ballot Measures: There is a measure to amend the Constitution of Wyoming in response to the Affordable Care Act, proposing that no person shall be compelled to obtain health care in the state.

50 States in 50 Days Election Preview: 43. Idaho

In the 50 days leading up to the election on November 6th, I will be doing a profile of the 50 states and previewing what is on the ballot and how they are likely to vote. All of the posts so far can be found here

43. Idaho

Capital: Boise

Nickname: Gem State

Motto: Esto Perpetua

(Let It Be Perpetual)

About the State

Prior to the arrival of European settlers, Idaho was home to Native American tribes including the Nez Perce and Western Shoshone.  It was the last of the continental United States to be explored by people from the Old World, with the Lewis and Clark expedition entering the region in 1805.  As with many of the states around it, the majority of the early pioneers in the area were fur traders, though they did not establish any permanent settlements in Idaho. Like Washington, it was originally part of Oregon Country, which the United States and Britain agreed to joint occupancy of in the Treaty of 1818 that had ended the War of 1812, but by 1846 this had been rescinded and the 49th Parallel was used as the border between the two territories (now the boundary between Canada and the US).

Idaho was initially organised in the Oregon Territory but there was little settlement in the region, with people passing through Idaho en route to California after the discovery of gold there in 1849, or as they traversed the Oregon Trail.  In 1860, the mineral was discovered at Pierce – the first of several gold rushes in Idaho – and that increased migration to the region.  For the period of 1860 to 1866, Idaho produced 19% of all the gold in the United States.  After Oregon had become a state in 1859, Idaho was split between the Washington and Dakota Territories, before President Lincoln created the Idaho Territory in 1863 – at the time including parts of Montana and Wyoming, but by 1868 it had been reduced to its current size.

Settlers from different backgrounds arrived in Idaho during this time: Mormons established the first town there, Franklin, in 1860, thinking they were still in the Utah Territory and unaware that they had crossed the border; many Irish people, who left their homeland during the Potato Famine, headed to North America, with many ultimately settling in Idaho due to its favourable conditions for agricultural development; Basque people moved to the state in search of opportunity; and much of the current population can trace their heritage back to German and English immigrants to the area in the late 19th and early 20th century.  By 1890, the number of residents had increased to nearly 90,000 and, on July 3rd of that year, Idaho became the 43rd state of the Union.

Idaho is the 14th largest state in the US and its more than 1.5 million residents rank it 39th in terms of population.  The biggest sector in its economy is science and technology, which accounts for roughly one-quarter of the state’s total revenue.  Most notably, Micron Technology – the only manufacturer of Dynamic Random Access Memory chips in the nation – is based in Boise; and ON Semiconductor, a major innovator in that field, is headquartered in Pocatello.  Agriculture remains a major industry for Idaho, with it most famous output being potatoes, of which it produces one-third of the nation’s total each year.  There is some tourism in the state, with Shoshone Falls – dubbed the Niagara of the West – and ski resorts like Sun Valley being the most popular destinations.  In 1925, the entire town of American Falls was relocated to allow for the construction of a dam.

Presidential Race

Electoral College Votes: 4

2008 Result: McCain 61.5% Obama 36.1%

Latest Poll: Romney +36%

Idaho has been won by the Republican candidate in each of the last 11 Presidential election and, given Governor Romney has his largest lead in the polls there, that streak will continue this November.

Also on the Ballot

Congress: There is little of interest in the Congressional elections in Idaho this November.  No Senate seats are being contested, while the two incumbent Representatives in the House – both of whom are Republicans – are strongly favor to win another term.

50 States in 50 Days Election Preview: 42. Washington

In the 50 days leading up to the election on November 6th, I will be doing a profile of the 50 states and previewing what is on the ballot and how they are likely to vote. All of the posts so far can be found here

42. Washington

Capital: Olympia

Nickname: The Evergreen State

Motto: Alki


About the State

Prior to the arrival of European settlers, Washington was home to various Native American tribes including the Chinook, Lummi and Makah around the coastal regions; and the Cayuse, Nez Perce and Spokane in the plateau areas.  The first person from the Old World to be recorded as having set foot in Washington was the Spaniard, Juan Perez, who landed there in 1774, four years before the British explorer, Captain James Cook reported sighting Cape Flattery.  Over the next few decades, traders and pioneers from several countries – including Britain, Russia, Spain and the newly formed United States – conducted expeditions there, including Lewis and Clark, who reached Washington in 1805.

As part of the Adams-Onis Treaty in 1919, Spain had ceded all rights to land about the 42nd parallel (the border between the modern-day states of California and Oregon), and the year before, Britain and the United States had set the 49th parallel (which constitutes the boundary between the US and Canada) as the border between the two nations, but only as far as the Continental Divide, with Oregon Country being jointly occupied by them both.  As more American settlers moved to the region via the Oregon Trail, they clamoured for it to become annexed by the United States and, in his inaugural address in 1845, President James K. Polk expressed his belief that the US was entitled to Oregon Country.  Some in the Democratic Party were clamouring for Polk to fight for the boundary with Britain to be set at “54’40” – which at the time was the border with Russian America, and now is the line between Alaska and Canada – but the two countries resolved the dispute in 1846, with the 49th parallel being (approximately) used from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

When the Oregon Territory was organised in 1848, it included all of Washington, but the growing population led Congress to separate it into its own Territory in 1853.  Between 1847 and 1855, the United States fought a war with the Cayuse tribe, a conflict that was initiated by the Whitman Massacre which took place at the Whitman Mission, located where the city of Walla Walla now stands.  Marcus Whitman was a missionary among the Cayuse at Waiilatpu and, as a physician and religious leader, he was considered a shaman by the indigenous population.  When an outbreak of measles at the camp resulted in the deaths of half of the Native Americans, who had no natural immunity to the disease, Whitman was blamed by the Cayuse and they killed him, his wife Narcissa, and 12 other settlers.  The tribe handed over five people they claimed to be responsible for the massacre to the United States in 1850 but, despite their trial and execution for the crime, the conflict continued until 1855, by which time the number of Cayuse was greatly reduced and they had given up most of their land.

During the 1850s, settlers were attracted to Washington Territory for the lumber industry and many single young men also moved to the Puget Sound area, where the city of Seattle was established in 1853 (though it was first called Duwamps) and in which gambling, liquor and prostitution were omnipresent.  In 1889, Washington became the 42nd state of the Union, joining within 10 days of North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana.  Although women had been allowed to vote when it was a territory, their suffrage was revoked as part of the state’s first constitution, though they did get it back in 1910, ten years before the 19th Amendment was passed guaranteeing females the right nationally.

Washington is the 18th biggest state in area and, with just over 6.8 million residents, ranks 13th in terms of population.  Agriculture is a major part of the state’s economy, with it producing the most amount of raspberries, apples, sweet cherries and pears in the nation, and it ranks second in wine output behind California.  75% of Washington’s energy comes from hydroelectric power – of which it is the leading producer in the United States – and its ports handle 8% of the country’s exports, as well as receiving 6% of the imports.  Major companies headquartered within the state include Starbucks, Boeing, and Microsoft – the latter of whom’s chairman, Bill Gates, is resident of Washington and consistently ranked as one of the richest men in the United States.  Seattle is home to two “Big Four” sports teams – the Seattle Mariners (MLB) and Seattle Seahawks (NFL).

Presidential Race

Electoral College Votes: 12

2008 Result: Obama 57.4% McCain 40.7%

Latest Poll: Obama +13%

Starting in 1988, Washington has voted for the Democratic Presidential candidate in each of the last six elections, with this year’s ballot likely to go the same way – President Obama carried the state by a wide margin in 2008 and is all but certain to do so again this November.

Also on the Ballot

Congress: There is one Senate election in Washington this year, with incumbent Democrat Sen. Maria Cantwell running against Republican candidate, Michael Baumgartner, currently serving as a State Senator.  Cantwell is heavily favoured to win a third term.

After redistricting as a result of the 2010 census, Washington’s number of Representatives in the House will increase by 1, starting in January 2013.  The current delegation is made up of 5 Democrats and 4 Republicans, with the ratio expected to be 6:4 after the election as the Democrats are expected to win the new district, with the other 9 remaining with their current party affiliation.

Governor: With Governor Christine Gregoire (D) not seeking re-election after serving two terms in office, 2013 will be the first time since 2005 that the state of Washington will have a male as either Governor or Senator.  The candidates in November are the Democrat, Jay Inslee, and Republican Rob McKenna, with the race currently considered a toss-up.

Ballot Measures: Washington is one of four states that will vote on the legalization of gay marriage, with the measure (Amendment 74) expected to pass, but the latest poll showed 49% of people in favour, with 45% against.  Also on the ballot is Initiative 502, that would legalize the production, possession and distribution of small amounts of marijuana, with the substance subsequently being taxed. The initiative is expected to pass by a wide margin.