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One thing that struck me in the debate the other night was McCain's forceful opposition to ethanol subsidies.  He is, of course, right about this -- corn-based ethnanol is economically and environmentally suspect -- and I respect him for saying this. It nonetheless seems to me that this could be used against him.  

McCain's comment effectively seals the deal in Iowa, which leads the country in ethanol production.

If you look at the list of ethanol producers (here), the next largest ethanol states are Nebraska, Illinois, Minnesota, and Indiana.  Of these, only Illinois is not important.  In Nebraska there is the electoral college of CD-2, and Minnesota and Indiana are both potentially in play.

Given that the relevant counties should be easy to identify, and given that most of the beneficiaries of these subsidies are likely Republican-voters, a micro-targeted message could be effective in changing some Republican votes or (more likely) suppressing them.

But given that some of these states could be very close, shifting a few thousand votes and suppressing a few thousand more could make a difference.

Originally posted to buckets on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 09:46 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Questions about ethanol should be referred to (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elise, bear83, LaughingPlanet

    Mike Hatch, demcrat from Minnesota who ran for Governor in 2006.  He had it won easily until his Lt. Gov. several days before the election could not articulate what E-85 was.  E-85 is gasoline with up to 85% ethanol in it for flex fuel vehicles.

    She couldn't articulate that with a reporter and that swept like wildfire across the state.

    This will not have much impact in those races.  Remember John McCain said the farm bill is a rip off as well.  People are more worried about abortion instead of feeding themselves.

    Republicans are not a national party anymore. Read My Lips: One Spouse, One House.

    by jalapeno on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 09:49:45 PM PDT

    •  I totally agree with you on this fact especially (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jalapeno, bear83

      People are more worried about abortion instead of feeding themselves.

      Abortion is some huge bullshit issue that was settled in 1973 that Republicans resurrect every election to get votes. This has already been settled by the Supreme Court in the last century and yet it is debated vigorously. Yet the Republicans do NOTHING once they get into office.

      The Republicans controlled the House and Senate for 12 years, if this was such an important issue, why didn't they shut down business and hash this out? Why wasn't this their number one priority? There was nothing stopping them, they even had a Republican president for 6 of those years.  

      They know this is a non-issue that they love to threaten women with. It is pathetic, and I always ask pro-lifers if they think government should focus only on this issue and nothing else. Not one of them has ever said "yes."

      "I cannot even imagine the mushroom cloud of horror and disbelief that will spread over the nation on November 5th should Palin and McCain win." - tjlabs

      by voracious on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 09:55:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I wondered about that comment too (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bear83, Rick Winrod, BehrHunter

    It seemed like something that could hurt him much more than help him. But that was ok with me!

  •  Why not? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bear83

    McCain should be held accountable for what he says. He can't continue to talk on tv one way and to people's face another. Sounds like someone else I heard say that. Don't cha know S Palin

  •  McCain did not speak out against ethanol... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Agathena, NNadir, bear83

    subsidies because of any scientific concerns...he's just tossing out programs that he's heard debated in the Senate the few times he's bothered to show up.

    And yes, he'll lose Iowa and maybe part of Nebraska for that comment.

    I touched Henry Kissenger's butt...and I liked it.

    by David Kroning on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 09:52:29 PM PDT

  •  Agreed, but add more ... (0+ / 0-)

    How do we micro target Iowa, KS, MN, IN, NB?

  •  Did McCain lose the midwest? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IamtheReason, Elise

    I forgot about that Ethanol subsidy quote.

    I doubt it will sit well with the farming community.

  •  He didn't just oppose corn ethanol subsidies. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elise

    He opposed ethanol subsidies.  

    Now maybe that was just misspeakery... but it's even worse than the one; the former's a certain degree of political suicide, but the other is simply dumb.

    The fundamental business of the country... is on a sound and prosperous basis. Hoover, 1929 The fundamentals of our economy are strong. McCain, 2008

    by ogre on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 10:04:43 PM PDT

  •  That statement had to be calculated to get more (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bronx59

    votes than it loses.

    I am not expert enough to know if he calculated correctly.

  •  I am highly skeptical of any damning (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ivan, jfromga, ozarkspark, Unenergy

    attacks on the ethanol industry right now, because you sure as hell know the other industry that would like to keep it from growing.

    Ethanol needs its subsidies, and an intelligent development plan to move over the next decade from corn based ethanol to switch grass and other promising avenues.

    On McCain's comment, my gut reaction was, yep, check in the mail from Exxon to McCain.

    Government for the people, by the people

    by axel000 on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 10:16:44 PM PDT

  •  you need current polling data that shows (0+ / 0-)

    whether the corn states are still for ethanol.  We drove thru midwest this summer and a lot of people had realized it was not so great.

  •  I wondered, too. (0+ / 0-)

    In fact, the minute he said it, I turned to my husband and said, "ooooooh."

    He just looked at me like I was WAY too into the debate.

    In any case, I'm from Illinois, so I knew it wasn't going to impact our votes. But I wondered who else it might impact.

    Maybe it was "maverick-y" to say? : )

  •  Slamming ethanol sealed Iowa (0+ / 0-)

    I agree, when I heard him slam ethanol, I went, no you di-int!

    Obama has to go up with an ad on this in Indiana and Minnesota, and Omaha.

  •  President of America vs Senator from Illinois (0+ / 0-)

    Hopefully, as soon as Obama becomes president of the whole country, instead of Senator of a corn state, he will take up a more realistic position on subsidizing corn ethanol.

    "I'm going to be on you like a numerator on a denominator." -Principal Skinner

    by dufffbeer on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 11:28:37 PM PDT

  •  It's just hard to take him too seriously (0+ / 0-)

    when he condemns ethanol and yet pushes for offshore drilling in the same breath. I don't see his opposition as part of some grand plan for energy, either. It's just another random thing he rails against, like ultimate fighting and studies of bear DNA. "Maverickiness", I say.  

    As for corn-based ethanol, it is definitely questionable. But I see it as a hatchet v. scalpel issue. The process can be improved, new and better crops can be used. We can save a lot of oil by keeping our tires inflated properly. We can also save a lot of ethanol by keeping our tires inflated properly. The system can run better if someone cares to run it better.

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