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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Thursday, February 05, 2004


About Wisconsin

posted by Brian Ulrich at Thursday, February 05, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
I've only been in this state for a few years, so don't take this as authoritative. But here are some things to keep in mind.

Wisconsin has a progressive tradition. This was Robert LaFolette's state, and today it is Russ Feingold's. People here have a soft spot for candidates out to challenge the system. However, it is not a far-left state. "Dane County Liberal" carries the same baggage in Wisconsin politics that "Massachusetts Liberal" does in national politics. Jim Doyle won the 2002 gubernatorial primary by beating back both Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and a Milwaukee congressman named Tom Barrett. He did this by dominating upstate.

Here's something else: Fiscal conservatism has been a huge issue here lately. Dean needs to tout his credentials in that area. In fact, he needs to tout credentials and plans everywhere he goes. Otherwise, pragmatic voters who want to know what you're going to do and not just what you stand for will go to someone else.

Here's another thing:The big news the past few days has been the state legislature's attempt to override Governor Doyle's veto of a bill legalizing the right to carry concealed weapons. The override attempt failed by one vote when a Democratic representative changed his vote at the last minute to support a governor of the same party. There is a great deal of pro-gun sentiment here. Even the most liberal candidates talk up their hunting credentials to cater to those northwoodsy sentiments. The Libertarian Party got over 10% of the vote in the 2002 gubernatorial elections in part on the basis of that issue.

In other words, Wisconsin voters are fiscally conservative, liberal on social issues, and like their guns. So if they vote strictly on how best to represent their views in the national debate, Dean has a great chance of winning this state. And a key is to make sure they do that rather than fall for an aura of inevitability set up by Iowa and New Hampshire.


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Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.