Barack Obama’s victory in Iowa yesterday is heartening and historic. Can’t say that a tear didn’t spark in even this bitter, cynical old eye of mine listening to his speech. Still, my other eye is turned to the future while reveling in the exciting present.

I’ve been wondering to myself the past few weeks, now if I was an unemployed Karl Rove twiddling my thumbs at home, what would I be doing? Well, I’d probably be taking a look at the electoral voting map of the U.S. and wondering where I can sow the seeds of another surprise GOP victory in 2008.

Now the numbers appear very much stacked against a Republican victory in 2008 and Democrats would appear to be poised to scoop up many races including president, house, senate and governor. Still it’s at least still possible yet that we may end up with another close race where votes counted on a razor’s edge can tip the balance of electoral votes and the race for president in one jackpot key state alone.

Rove and the RNC masterminded dirty tricks to make voting difficult for African-Americans and/or make sure their votes wouldn’t be counted in Florida in 2000 and in Ohio in 2004. This strategy has been successful — why wouldn’t the Republicans try it again in 2008 to game the odds a little more in their favor?

Here’s what those 2 purple states have in common — they have large African-American populations (12% or higher) that have little political power or capital in their home states and they each carried 20 or more electoral votes. Ohio has 20 votes and Florida, 27.

Let’s take a look at the jackpot states with 20 or more electoral votes at stake:

CA: 55
TX: 34
NY: 31
FL: 27
PA: 21
IL: 21
OH: 20

Texas is a reliably red state and a Bush stronghold. Yet it is also just over 12% African-American according to the 2005 Census and Obama has just proven that even in the one of the whitest of states, he can generate new voters and create crossover voters from Republican to Democrat. If I was a GOP leader, I’d start getting concerned about what a truly energized black vote in TX might look like combined with the crossover and new voter effects. Could a red state be at risk of turning blue?

The minority political power in TX is focused more on the latino community (which is multiracial). Hispanics of any race make up 35% of the population in TX. The GOP seems less likely to mess with them.

The African-Americans, as in FL and OH, are conveniently segregated in East Texas where the cotton plantations used to be along with strong numbers in Dallas and Houston. Blacks probably have a little too much political power in NY, IL and PA to rip off with impunity and they are too dispersed in the big blue state of CA. And folks are on their guard in FL and OH this go-round.

So, my current guess doing the math is that if we are going to see voting disenfranchisement, dirty tricks, weirdness and assorted hijinks, Texas might be the mark in 2008. That’s my forecast for the broken machines, folks incorrectly stricken from voter files, closed polling stations, confusing robo-calls, harassment and all the other ways in which voting was disrupted in 2000 and 2004 for African-Americans. Think it’s not possible? Then let me point you to one of America’s supposedly greatest conspiracies of all time which was the successful plot to keep the slaves in Texas from knowing that the Emancipation Proclamation had been issued during the Civil War until 1865.

A Brief History:

What is Juneteenth? Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration of the ending of slavery. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that all slaves were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863.

Here’s General Order No. 3, interesting unto itself:

The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.

2 and a half years. There have been a lot of attempted explanations as to why the slaves in Texas were in the dark about the Emancipation Proclamation, news of which in other Confederate-controlled areas caused economic and military impacts as 200,000 blacks, mostly freedmen, swelled the ranks of the Union forces. None of those reasons are entirely convincing alone and some historians (and many black people) have suspected a well-organized, carefully networked effort among the state’s leaders to keep the news of the emancipation as quiet as possible for as long as possible in Texas.

I realize that other ethnic groups such as Native Americans and Latinos have also been targeted and in order to save seats in the House and Senate, I wonder if the forecast won’t show an increase in micro-disruption for voting as well this year. But maybe I’m totally off-base here. I’ve only been to Texas a few times and I know not to mess with TX. If you are from TX or one of the other high count electoral vote states, holler and let me know what you think.

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