As Goes North Dakota...

North Dakota is not a state known for supporting Democratic candidates in Presidential elections. In the the past 80 years, it has only backed the Democrat three times- Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932 and 1936, and Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.

Notably, these three elections mark the three largest popular vote landslides by Democrats during that period of time. In 1932, FDR won nationally by a margin of 18%, in 1936 he won by 24%, and in 1964, LBJ defeated Barry Goldwater nationally by 22%. No other Democratic presidential candidate has run up a double digit margin during that period, with FDR coming closest in 1940, winning by 9.9%. (And, it should be noted, losing North Dakota.)

This year, however, North Dakota may be in play. While President Bush won the state in 2004, 63% to 35% over John Kerry, the most recent polls of the state, by Research 2000 and the Fargo Forum, place the 2008 race in a dead heat.

This may be a reflection of a wider trend in rural areas. A survey of rural voters in 13 battleground states released in late October by the Center for Rural Strategies, showed Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain tied among rural voters. In September, similar polling by the center had shown McCain with a 10 point lead among rural voters. According to Reuters, in 2004, President Bush "won rural districts nationwide by 19 points."

If the recent 2008 polling proves accurate, Tuesday night may be an unhappy evening for McCain supporters, with Sen. Obama facing the possibility of winning by a healthy margin, potentially bringing rural states such as North Dakota along for the ride.

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As Goes North Dakota

A record breaking 32-below-zero didn’t stop the North Dakota Optometric Association (NDOA) on March 6-7 from giving me a warm welcome. As their guest keynote speaker from Chicago, Illinois, it was an honor to share my story and mission with an eager and thankful group.

I met many great eye doctors and people who want the best in children’s eye care such as: Dr. Melanie and Clayton Oltmanns; Dr. David Biberdorf; Dr. Mark Moen; Dr. Avery Jones; Dr. Mark Helgesen; Dr. Dori Carlson; Dr. Bob and Gloria Nyre; Dr. Nate and Angie Shilman; Dr. Kyle Krein; Dr. Steve Looysen; Dr. Geoffrey Rath; Dr. Jim Helmers; Dr. Kristin Engstrom; Dr. Meredith Clark; Dr. Greg Otto, David Waterman and Charity Reitneier from Waterman Video, Tracy Thomas from NDOA, and NDOA Executive Director Nancy Kopp and her husband Bill.

The hockey game Friday night was a real treat, too. The University of North Dakota’s state-of-the-art arena was magnificent! Thank you, NDOA, for the souvenir Fighting Sioux tee-shirt and sweatshirt. I love it! Thank you again, Nancy, for inviting me to your great state.

I also met another great mom when my plane transferred in Minnesota. She emailed me last month after reading about Illinois’ new eye exam law in the December 2007 issue of Primary Care Optometry News. (Read the full story on the Vision First Foundation website. Yeah! Thanks to my awesome brother, the Vision First website is finally “live!”) It was nice to put a face to a name. Her daughter’s vision problem went undetected by an ophthalmologist. More about this mom later as we work together on future legislation in her state.

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