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Kentucky Musing / Newsweek



Howard Fineman

The Bluegrass Battle

Could Obama do better than expected in Kentucky?

May 16, 2008 | Updated: 11:37  a.m. ET May 16, 2008


When I was starting out in journalism here in Louisville a zillion years ago, my newspaper colleagues and I viewed the neighborhood called Shively as an outpost of rural Kentucky in the midst of the city.

It was legally a jurisdiction unto itself, and the people there preferred it that way. Dixie Highway ran through it. It was the kind of place where you could buy a black velvet wall hanging with a hand-painted, neon-hued version of the Last Supper on it. The kind of place where you could attend one of the many small, evangelical churches that lined the highway. The folks who lived there tended to be immigrant families from small towns to the south—some as far away as Alabama—who had migrated north in search of industrial work.

Shively, not surprisingly, is where Bill Clinton has been campaigning in the final, gloomy days leading up to the Democratic presidential primary in Kentucky. His wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton, almost certainly will win big in the Bluegrass State. The question is: how big? The former president was here trying to make the margin impressive.

Sen. Barack Obama has a good organization here. He hasn’t visited much, and his campaign is downplaying this state’s importance in the race for the nomination, which he has almost wrapped up. Still, the Obama team is trying to exceed his low expectations here—which call for Hillary to win by at least 25 points.

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