Posted at 11:33 AM on August 13, 2008
by Tim Nelson
Politico has found an "enthusiam" gap among Republicans headed for their national convention in St. Paul this year. They've got a piece saying that the party regulars are staying away.
They blame the "flyover land" reputation of Minnesota, Republican struggles elsewhere and the traveling rock-and-roll show that has become the Barack Obama campaign.
It's just the latest sign that next month's RNC may not be the be-all and end-all it seemed on first blush.
A third of the slots for St. Paul's "Open Forum Stage" for instance, went begging this week, although they'll reopen the lottery for them next Tuesday. Free speech just doesn't draw the crowd it used to, apparently.
And while they're not saying so publicly -- they'll never admit to being anything but braced for the worse case scenario -- some local cops are saying they're dialing down their expectations. They point, aside, to any number of factors that may help them keep the peace:
- Oil prices are making it very expensive to fly or drive from any distance to the convention, either to participate or protest. It's well into four figures to fly a couple back and forth to between New York and the Twin Cities these days.
- Many schools start the same week, and people may be reluctant to skip the first day and being with their kids to attend to a foregone conclusion at the Xcel Energy Center.
- John McCain just doesn't ignite the passion, on either side, as other candidates. He's had what many consider to be a noble military career and he's strayed regularly from the Republican fold.
- Other large demonstrations have been quieter of late. The immigration protests in Los Angeles and even here in Minnesota were quieter this year than last and traditional agitators don't seem to be able to draw people to them as they have in the past. "They seem to be more and more standing alone," one police official notes.
- A generational change seems to be making Internet, not pavement, the place to express yourself. Authorities think the days of bodies in the street may be giving way to blogs, banner ads, online contributions and even high-tech billboards and other public displays.
- The potential to get admission to an actual event is a lot higher in Denver. You're a lot more likely to see a presidential candidate in person at Invesco Field than the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
And of course, all of this speculation could be proven utterly worthless come Labor Day. But whatever happens, rest assured our ethusiasm for bringing it to you will never flag.
Cool blog. I'll be checking in!
Posted by Doug Werner | August 13, 2008 2:00 PM