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Say what? 

Ordinarily, I wouldn't trash a book I haven't read, but after checking out author/professor Tom Schaller's recent explanation/synopsis of his new political analysis Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South, I can tell you that its basic premise is about as off-base as it gets. A more accurate subtitle would be How Democrats Can Win Without the South If Everything Else Falls Into Place Just So.

Without even delving into the convoluted math that Schaller uses to get to the winning number of electoral votes, the book's premise is flawed, flawed, flawed because it presumes a homogenous "South" that consists of only the former Confederate states. The book also explains that the last three Democratic presidents--Johnson, Carter and Clinton--weren't really of the South. Shazam.

Whistling may represent extremely wishful thinking on the part of the Northeast and Southern California limousine liberal crowd, but the idea that any party claiming to represent the American people would toss aside 11 states would be laughable if it weren't so shameful. It's a good example, though, of how fixated some Dems are on the White House, and the How-Democrats-Can-Win-the-White-House industry is now in high gear.

The book's timing couldn't be worse, since it's looking more like the headlines out of the solid red South are likely to note a sudden blue tinge.

Perhaps as a nod to those of Schaller's ilk, the Washington Post has created a new category to explain what's happening in Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina. A recent analysis by the Post of the blue shift in these states claims we're part of the "Upper South." Has a nice urbane, cultured ring to it, doesn't it? Bring the car around, James; we're going to K&W to celebrate.

SSI-Raleigh

The State Auditor's office last week issued a "strategic audit" of N.C. Central University that details the university's failure to follow up with employees about Social Security numbers found to be incorrect.

The trigger point for so-called no-match letters from the Social Security Administration to employers was tightened in the wake of 9/11, and now State Auditor Les Merritt has indicated his office will be looking closer at state employee records as well as those of its contractors. The impact will depend on how aggressive the state gets on this, but it could be massive. While many of these problems are clerical errors, there's no doubt a sizable percentage of workers will likely be unable to clear up the discrepancy.

Judging from the report, it looks like it took some serious legwork to detail the problems listed at Central, so we'll see how much the state is willing to spend on the program. That said, a wholesale sweep of the university system and other major state employers would have intense social and economic consequences. The immigration system is without a doubt a broken system. Those using that fact for demagoguery would like nothing more than to force a crisis.

Polls, polls, polls

Hard to keep up with all the numbers flying around as the election closes, but here's a quick breakdown:

  • An Oct. 4 Reuters/Zogby poll says Heath Shuler has opened up a double-digit lead--51 percent to 40 percent--over Charles Taylor in the 11th Congressional district around Asheville.

  • An Oct. 4 OnPoint Polling survey of the 8th Congressional District (more central N.C.) has Larry Kissell within one point (the margin of error is 4 percent) of Robin Hayes.

  • The same OnPoint survey shows President Bush's numbers in North Carolina slipping, with 42 percent saying they approve and 51 percent saying they disapprove of his performance on the job.

  • On Oct. 6, the Cook Political Report changed the 8th from solid Republican to "likely Republican," indicating it's a race in flux.

So what does all this mean? Well, people smarter than me say this is the time when all those people who are "undecided" decide or admit they were really going to vote for so-and-so all along. Through a complicated mathematical principal known as "addition and subtraction," one can determine how those undecideds are breaking. The next round of polls should be out any minute now. This round says that for the GOP, voters are breaking away.

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