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Thursday, 19 June 2008

image for Poll: Obama leads in swing and break-dance states, McCain ahead with waltz and cotillion dancers
If the Obama swing dancing momentum catches on all over the country, there may even be a renewed interest in jitterbugging.

Sen. Barack Obama is leading Sen. John McCain in the crucial swing-mad states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, according to a new survey of dance enthusiasts.

And in Florida, where Obama did not dance at all during this primary season and lost the Democratic dancehall contest, he now leads McCain 47 to 43 percent, particularly among jitterbug and Charleston dancers.

The Ohio and Florida results are reversals of poll results published a month ago, but a vindication of the McCain campaign choreographer's repeated suggestions to Cindy McCain that John take a few dance lessons if he expects to lead in Washington.

To date, McCain has refused all efforts to improve his tap or even learn minimal ballroom skills.

Hoofers Hillary and Michelle

In the waning days of her campaign, Clinton argued to voters and superdelegates that she should be the nominee because she was accustomed to lead.

Rumours suggest McCain tried learning a few Latin steps behind the scenes to counter Hillary but after it became clear he would be running against Obama, McCain seems to have relaxed his guard.

While Obama's dance floor skills are no more than adequate, they are more than compensated for by his partner Michelle Obama's renowned devotion to Terpsichore.

She is said to have never met a dance step she didn't like and, more ominous for the McCain campaign, could not immediately learn to execute. From her childhood ballet lessons and street dancing youth to her many and varied dance trophies garnered over the years, Michelle Obama clearly provides a much-needed edge to her husband's campaign.

King of Swing?

A majority of voters in all three swing states say they'd like to see her dance partner on the ballot this fall, but independent dancers (most notably fans of hip-hop and electro) give the idea a thumbs-down by margins of 9 to 16 percent.

'Old school' breakdancers uniformly support Obama in nearly all states, of course.

Florida's passion for swing dancing clinched the presidency for George W. Bush in 2000, after he and Laura won an all-night Swing Dance and Debate Marathon that was broadcast live on C-SPAN from the Flamingo Room in Miami Beach.

Theories that the Gores could have done better that night had Tipper not been dancing on a sprained ankle were never verified and remain controversial.

In the groove

If the Obama swing dancing momentum catches on all over the country, there may be a renewed interest in jitterbugging in states long devoted to little more than country-and-western line-dancing, and this no matter which dance team wins the White House in November.

The latest national poll, conducted by the Latest National Poll Corporation, shows Obama running strongest in the West -- and not just California, where peculiar dance styles have long been accepted by voters.

"The Rocky Mountain states have been traditionally the least dance-friendly part of the country. So that's why it's so amazing that polls show Obama doing so well out here," said Bob Levy, a political science professor at the Colorado College of Dance Science.

So what changed the tune?

"In the upper-class suburbs of Denver that used to be so solidly Republican, a lot of dance steps initiated or revived from the dead by higher-ups in the Bush administration have not caught on there at all, some being outright banned in clubs," Levy said.

"Recent Republican attempts at 'Indian' war dances, for example, Mitch McConnell's stale and predictable attempts at extemporaneous steps during swing dancing, and John Boehner's 'white-boy' disco skills - so abysmal that Republicans have no chance of ever regaining the small margin of gay voters Bush II could claim - these things simply have not played well with the old Republican Party heartland."

McCain continues to turn up his nose at the importance of dance skills in a presidential candidate, but Barack and Michelle Obama practice nightly with experts in the most obscure dancesÂ…and with good reason.

Pole-dancing for president

While it's true that there is no disco ball in the Oval Office, the United States has only once elected a tone-deaf president with two left feet. And considering the party-wide debacle that followed his humiliating pratfall during the Watergate Ballroom Finals, the Republican party would do well not to put forward such a candidate again.

All polls indicate that Americans want a change in rhythm and a president who can stay cool in the heat of the White House dance hall and discothèque.

McCain would do well not to simply copy Bush's dance repertoire: that dance card's been empty for months.

With the Obamas going through dance shoes at the rate of two sets a week, the McCain campaign had better loosen up and learn a few moves if they don't want their candidate to be a wallflower in November.

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