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NPR's Ron Elving on Conventions, Okla. ''Blue Dog'' Democrats (Aug 31, 2012)

The Republican National Convention wrapped up Thursday night, and the Democrats begin their three-day nominating convention Tuesday in Charlotte. NPR News’ Senior Washington Editor Ron Elving joins KGOU News Director Kurt Gwartney from Tampa to talk about the conventions, and the future of conservative Oklahoma Democrats.

With the conventions running back to back, separated only by the Labor Day weekend, Elving said the Republicans have an advantage not unlike batting first in a baseball game, or serving first in a tennis match.

“When you have so little time between the conventions, it’s not as easy for the second party to come along and get the last word before we move into the fall campaign,” Elving said. “It’s a little bit more like that tennis analogy, where the ball’s coming at you pretty fast, and it can be very hard to return it. The Republicans are certainly hitting a very hard serve out of Tampa.”

With polling numbers currently showing a very tight race between the former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and President Obama, Elving says another Bush v. Gore situation is possible.

“Wisconsin, which was almost as close as Florida in 2000, could be in that bag again,” Elving said. “Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan is the Vice Presidential nominee, and we’re surely going to see a very enthusiastic Republican Party in Wisconsin. So if they can close the big gap by which Barack Obama won that state in 2008, we could see Wisconsin too close to call as well.”

Oklahoma Democrats that have served in Congress have long had a conservative streak, but those so-called “Blue Dogs” are starting to decline.

“This is an endangered species,” Elving said. “When the Democrats were fully in control in 2009-2010, they pushed through a lot of legislation that upset a lot of people in the country. And that really turned the harsh light of disapproval of Washington on the Democratic Party, especially in the House. So the Blue Dogs, guys like Dan Boren, for example, really were given an awfully tough choice, and as a result, an awful lot of them lost in 2010, or retired, and got out of the way of the tsunami that cost the Democratic Party more than 60 seats in the midterm elections.”

Ron Elving directs coverage of the nation's capital and national politics, and provides on-air political analysis for many NPR programs. He can regularly be heard on Talk of the Nation providing analysis of the latest in politics. He is also heard on the "It's All Politics" weekly podcast along with NPR's Ken Rudin.


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