The Washington Post this morning looks to rural Illinois to determine if Democratic nominee Barack Obama stands a chance of winning anywhere outside the cities. The story political commentators have told themselves is that Obama has done well with voters in the coalfields and farmland of Southern Illinois and this shows how he might do nationally. Possible? “He certainly has shown a good amount of reach into downstate and southern Illinois, but . . . it has been overstated,” said Michael Lawrence, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University.
Obama has written that rural Illinois defies stereotypes. After an aide “warned Obama to wear only khakis and polo shirts, ‘no fancy linen trousers or silk shirts,’ Obama enjoyed pointing out residents with linen slacks. When Shomon urged him not to request Dijon mustard at a restaurant, the puzzled waitress said she had it.”
Well, you have to start somewhere. And Obama did take several of those downstate counties in his race against Clinton.