A lot has been made of Harold Ford's near-victory in Tennessee. I thought it would be useful to see how close, comparatively speaking, he came. Flipping through some returns, I came across the 2002 race in Tennessee. It was similar to 2006 in three main respects--1) midterm election with 2) no incumbent running and the Democratic nominee an 3) incumbent House member. Here are the results:
***Note--Democratic counties in Red; Republican in Blue
Ford received a higher statwide vote total than 2002 Democratic nominee Bob Clement (48% vs 44%). Clement, on the other hand, won 6 more counties than Ford did. Ford actually did better than Clement in Nashville (Davidson County), which was Clement's back yard--61% vs 56%. Ford did much better than Clement in Memphis (Shelby County), which was his back yard--63% vs 49%.
As we would expect, the more urbanized parts of Tennessee went Democratic, and moreso this year than in 2002. The trick, thus, for Democrats statewide is to find a way to capture more of the rural vote. The fact that there are two Tennessee House Democrats from largely rural areas (Lincoln Davis and John Tanner) shows that it can be done, as does the success of just re-elected Democratic Governor Phil Bredesen.