by Jessie Ammons
The current election season has been one for the books. Regardless of where you stand on the candidates, what happens on Nov. 8 will be historic. If elected, Donald Trump would become the oldest President to take office; Hillary Clinton would become the first woman President, as well as the first President with a former-President as a spouse. But you know all of that. Here are a few fun facts you might not know, tidbits that could come in handy should the conversation turn – horror! – to politics.
• Why do we vote on a Tuesday in November? Once upon a time, voters traveled to their polling places by horse, the story goes, and agricultural seasons structured the calendar. Tuesday allowed for worship on Sunday, a day’s travel to the county seat by Monday, and voting on Tuesday morning. You’d still be home in time for market day, which was traditionally Wednesday. Also, November’s a temperate, convenient time: It’s a month or two after most harvest seasons, but before the worst of winter weather. These days, activist groups like Why Tuesday are working to move election day to a weekend in order to increase voter turnout.
• Democratic states these days are referred to as “blue” and Republican states are considered “red” for no particular reason. Sure, the “R” alliteration is nice, but the reason behind the color-coding seems to stem from the media’s decision that the hues contrast well and look patriotic. The colors haven’t always denoted what they do today. In the 1980 Reagan-Carter election, blue tended to signify Republican; red Democrat. CNN Politics says the 2000 Bush-Gore election was the first time all major news outlets uniformly used the Democrat-blue and Republican-red system, perhaps because it was one of the first elections shrouded in weeks of intense media coverage.
• North Carolina has only recently flexed its political muscle as a powerhouse swing state. Historically, our state’s agricultural economy was reflected in a solidly moderate political voice. Growth in high-tech and entrepreneurship-minded industries and the migration of newcomers – especially in cities like Raleigh – has resulted in an increasingly diversified population. The New York Times Magazine points to the 2008 election as the first time North Carolina stood out as a swing state, when our electoral college votes just barely went to Barack Obama. In 2012, they leaned to Mitt Romney by a hair. It’s been a see-saw ever since on the national and local levels.