Monday June 25, 2012 | 11:15 AM

I'm interrupting the regularly scheduled, Maine-centric programming here at Open Season to make a few observations about the U.S. presidential contest.

As many of you may know, my recent book, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America, argues that there's never been one America, but rather several Americas, each with its own founding ideals and takes on the great American policy questions: what is the correct balance between individual liberty and communal freedom?; what is the right relationship between church and state?; what does it mean to be "American"?

It also argues that the political differences between these regional cultures can still be seen on today's political maps, including the "blue county / red county" maps of most every closely contested presidential contest of the past two centuries.

Skeptical? You may find the results of the recently completed 2012 presidential primaries sobering. It's the subject of my essay in the new issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education, which is now available online for your reading pleasure. In short, regionalism played an overwhelming role in the G.O.P. contest, and revealed continued weaknesses for President Obama in the region I call Greater Appalachia.

This paradigm - and this all-revealing map of the "nations" - has been getting renewed attention of late. Last week on Slate's "Political Gabfest" podcast, the magazine's chief political correspondent, John Dickerson, recommended American Nations to Obama and Governor Romney as they prepare  for the general election. Steve Kornacki at Salon weighed in further on what is now being called "Obama's Greater Appalachia Problem," perhaps pivoting off earlier discussions from Alec MacGillis at The New Republic, Politico's Charles Mahtesian, and Andrew Sullivan's "The Dish" at The Daily Beast.

Regionalism: national pollsters and political consultants ignore it at their peril.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled, non-self-promoting programming.

 

About the Author

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Open Season is your guide to the 2014 campaign. Our team of political writers has its sights set on Maine’s major elections, from the Blaine House to the U.S. Capitol.

Steve Mistler is covering the 2014 governor's race. He covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.
Steve can be reached at 791-6345 or smistler@pressherald.com.
On Twitter: @stevemistler

Eric Russell is covering Independent Eliot Cutler during the 2014 governor's race. He is a general assignment reporter for the Portland Press Herald.
Eric can be reached at 791-6344 or erussell@pressherald.com
On Twitter: @pphericrussell

Matt Byrne is covering Republican Paul LePage during the 2014 governor's race. He covers Falmouth, Cumberland, North Yarmouth, Yarmouth and Freeport for the Portland Press Herald.
Matt can be reached at 791-6303 or mbyrne@pressherald.com
On Twitter: @mattbyrnePPH

Randy Billings is covering Democrat Mike Michaud during the 2014 governor's race. He covers Portland City Hall for the Portland Press Herald.
Randy can be reached at 791-6346 or rbillings@pressherald.com
On Twitter: @randybillings

Kevin Miller is covering Maine's U.S. Senate race and 1st Congressional District race. He covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald.
Kevin can be reached at 317-6256 or kmiller@pressherald.com
On Twitter: @kevinmillerdc

Michael Shepherd is covering Maine's 2nd Congressional District race. He is a news and State House reporter for the Kennebec Journal.
Michael can be reached at 621-5632 or mshepherd@centralmaine.com
On Twitter: @mikeshepherdME

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