Iowa Public Television


November Elections Affect Rural America

posted on November 7, 2008

Hello, I'm Mark Pearson. The old adage "to the victor go the spoils" may take on an all-new meaning for President-Elect Barack Obama, whose historic victory this week earned him the "prize" of an economy on life support.

Obama convened 17 members of his transition economic advisory board Friday to ponder responses to a stubborn housing slump and the worst financial crisis in 70 years.

In the days following the election, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 900 points to post its worst two-day performance in 20 years.

On Friday, General Motors reported a third quarter loss of $2.5 billion and announced it could run out of cash in 2009. Ford announced similar losses and thousands of layoffs.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department reported U.S. employers cut 240,000 jobs from the payroll in October, sending the nation's unemployment rate to a 14-year high of 6.5 percent.

Wall Street appeared to have already factored in the bearish reports as the Dow rallied more than 250 points to close near the 9,000-mark on Friday.

Exit polling revealed the economy was the top issue for voters Tuesday, but the people spoke on other matters as well; and some of their choices have ramifications from Wall Street to Main Street.

November Elections Affect Rural America President-Elect Barack Obama: "There's new energy to harness, new jobs to be created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair. The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you, we as a people will get there."

The November 2008 elections brought a Democratic triumph throughout the federal government. President-elect Barack Obama routed Senator John McCain with a landslide 364-electoral vote victory. But the Obama win was only part of the election landscape this week.

Congressional Democrats expanded their power in the U.S. House and Senate. An additional six Democrats Senators brings the total number to 57 in the U.S. Senate with several remaining races still too close to call. In Georgia, the southern point man on agriculture issues is in electoral trouble. Sen. Saxby Chambliss may face a December run-off election to preserve his seat in a ruby-red Republican state.

On the other side of the legislative branch, Democrats in the House of Representatives picked up at least 19 spots to reach a 254-vote majority. In addition to congressional races, a California proposition made shockwaves through the agriculture community this week.

Animal rights groups like the Humane Society of the United States and Farm Sanctuary actively campaigned for a California ballot measure known as Proposition 2.

Proposition 2 Web Video: "Pigs can stretch their limbs out if you check the box for yes. And for the family farmer, you're doing what is best…"

California's Proposition 2, which would prohibit farmers from raising pregnant pigs, egg-laying hens, and veal calves in small cages or crates, passed by more than 60%. The measure does not go into effect until 2015 but agriculture groups like the American Farm Bureau claim the proposition could negatively affect livestock producers.

In addition to the Farm Bureau, the National Pork Producers Council and the Pacific Egg and Poultry Association were among the farm groups in opposition to Proposition 2. Despite the bill's passage, California officials say the measure will not go into affect until 2015.

Other agricultural issues may have played a role in the Presidential race this week. Exit polling in the nation's top corn-producing state of Iowa revealed John McCain's opposition to ethanol subsidies had a negative affect on the Republican Senator.

According to network exit polling, 67% of Iowans support ethanol subsidies. Those voters broke for President-Elect Barack Obama by a 14-point margin. The 25-percent of Iowans that opposed ethanol subsidies voted for McCain by a 9-point margin. The seven electoral votes from the Hawkeye State went to Obama by more than 9 percent.

Tags: campaign 2008 elections news politics presidential candidates rural