Remember Soccer Mom? So 2000. In the coming election year the
demographic most coveted by politicians is the rural, male,
middle-to lower-middle-class fiercely independent swing
voter--and he ain't drivin' no minivan. Meet NASCAR Dad. "These
are voters who largely went for Bush in 2000," says Amy Walter of
The Cook Political Report, "but if Democrats focus on economic
rather than social issues, they bring them back into the fold."
In 2001 Virginia gubernatorial candidate Mark Warner sponsored a
NASCAR car at Martinsville and won the election, becoming the
first Democrat in a generation to carry the rural parts of the
state. Now Senator Bob Graham (D., Fla.) is sponsoring the GRAHAM
FOR PRESIDENT truck in NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series. With some
75 million NASCAR fans in the U.S., there's likely to be more
candidates trading paint with Graham in '04--though if Hillary
Clinton ever tried it, says Larry Sabato, director of the
University of Virginia's Center for Politics, "she'd be booed, no
question about it."
COLOR PHOTO: WILFREDO LEE/AP(FLAG) POLITICAL MACHINE Graham is on track for the NASCAR vote.
COLOR PHOTO: JAMIE SQUIRE/GETTY IMAGES (CAR HAT) [See caption above]
COLOR PHOTO[See caption above]