Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Obama at JMU in Harrisonburg, Virginia!

Almost an hour ago I just finished watching live on the internet Barack Obama speaking at the Convocation Center at James Madison University here in Harrisonburg, Virginia, in the heart of the "red" Republican Shenandoah Valley, although Harrisonburg tracks the state as a whole pretty accurately, meaning Obama is currently leading in the city as in the state as a whole. Many continue to say that Virginia is the marginal state, the one more than any other that will determine the final outcome, and Harrisonburg tracks it. So, he may be the first major party presidential candidate to visit here since Douglas in 1860. His speech was mostly standard stump, with some soaring rhetoric at the end, but the crowd was enthusiastic and way over the 7500 capacity in the center. It started at 5:15, but one of my colleagues gave up trying to get in after getting in line at 12:30!

Obama has gone to Norfolk in the Tidewater for a speech later this evening. This is the region that may really explain Obama's apparent lead in Virginia. Of course, population increases in "unreal" Northern Virginia is part of the pattern, but the ironic key according to Bob Roberts, a poli sci prof at JMU who is a frequent commentator on local TV is that McCain is not very far ahead in the Tidewater. The irony here is that this is the area that is most chock full of military, with Hampton Roads being the world's largest naval base. According to Roberts, McCain does lead among the military themselves, but their families have turned against him, sick of the long Iraq war. So, if McCain loses Virginia, and thus the election, it may be the ultimate blowback from his support of the awful Iraq war, finally coming home to roost.


garry said...

I was also at the JMU event but did not get in, despite being a campaign volunteer and having a reserved seat ticket in hand. I found out today the Fire Marshall shut down admittance with no warning, with rows of empty seat in front (the reserved seats for volunteers). Speculation is that he is a McCainiac and this was either orchestrated by him individually to disrupt the event or was a McCain campaign attempt to disrupt the event in a traditionally Republican stronghold area of the state.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...


I have heard this too, or some variation of it. I knew I could not get in as I had to teach a class at 2 PM. I wandered over after my class just to check things out and heard various bizarre tales of people with VIP or volunteer passes who did not get in. I do not know if it was because she could not get in or something else, but walking away from it with another young woman putting her arm around her, I saw one young woman weeping very vociferously.

Anonymous said...

This was a very popular event that filled up quickly. There were several people that I spoke to who just got in and had waited since 7:30 in the morning. I too had VIP tickets and was told that these tickets didn't guarantee me a seat. What they did was guarantee me the abilty to not wait in the long general admission line. We were specifically told that if the center filled up before we arrived, then even if we had VIP tickets, we would be denied entrance.So I think the problem was a combination of the organizers not explaining that to the VIP holders, and the VIP ticket holders not preparing better for the unknown.

As for the empty seats? There were several of us that were curious why they closed the doors before the seats were filled. Many of the volunteers that we saw were on the floor or in other seats, if the empty section on the left was dedicated to the volunteers, then its emptiness could be explained by the volunteers sitting elsewhere.

garry said...

Well, guess it is impossible to say at this point, although I was told (perhaps wrongly) that having a VIP ticket guaranteed a seat. Regardless, it is over and done with at this point, so conspiracy theories such as as Republican influence, etc. are of little value. I have to admit to being frustrated since I drove from Richmond and was in the VIP line shortly after the doors opened.

Peter H said...


At some point, I'd be interested to hear what you, as an economist, think Obama's economic priorities should be if he gets elected. I'm particularly interested to hear your views on how Obama should handle the defict, because it seems like Obama's top economic advisors (Furman, Goolsbee, Summers, Volcker) are deficit hawks, as are most orthodox economists. Of course, they support further fiscal stimulus, but they want it targeted & temporary. On the other hand, post Keynesian economists like James Galbraith & Thomas Palley think big long-term budget deficit are irrelevant or even a net benefit to the economy.

I think this is going to be a major source of contention. If Obama makes deficit reduction a priority, it will be very difficult to do anything constructive on health care, pre-K education, infrastructure investment,alternate energy, etc. Even if he lets some or most of the Bush tax cuts for the non-rich
expire, there will be very little revenue for new spending.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

I will probably post on this later, asssuming he gets elected. I think health care is the really big issue that he should try to deal with, especially in his first two years when he will have max support in Congress. There will probably be a major Dem sweep this fall in Congress, but especially if he and they get in, suspect GOP will make gains in Congress in two years, although hopefully not do what happened in 1994.

The budget deficit issue is going to be a problem, especially given all the bailouts and now the recession, which is official (0.3% GDP decline in third quarter). They will probably be looser than would be otherwise, but Obama has already warned of not being able to "do everything."