The attention factor James R. Carroll: Notes from Washington

by James R. Carroll // Published December 4, 2005 in The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky)

Having Bayh on a Democratic ticket -- and the senator is exploring a run for the top position -- might boost the attention Indiana and some other Midwestern states get in a fall presidential campaign.

In 2004, Indiana, Kentucky and a lot of other states got zero attention from the candidates, according to FairVote, a nonpartisan group that studies how election rules affect turnout and candidate competition.

FairVote released a report last month that found that almost 60 percent of the American electorate was ignored by the national campaigns in the final five weeks of the 2004 contest.

The organization analyzed major party candidate visits and campaign spending on ads in those last five weeks to create what it calls an "Attention Index" for each state. If every voter in the country were treated equally, all states would get an index of "1."

Kentucky, Indiana and 17 other states each got index ratings of zero in the report, called "Who Picks the President?" For three-quarters of the states and the District of Columbia, the highest index reached was 0.69.

Of course, the so-called battleground states, where President Bush and Democratic challenger John Kerry believed the election would be determined, received gobs of attention. In FairVote's ratings, Iowa came in tops with an index of 8.29, followed by Ohio at 4.66, New Hampshire at 4.52, Wisconsin at 4.46, New Mexico at 4.22, and Florida at 4.05.

FairVote's chairman is former Illinois Republican Rep. John Anderson, who ran for president in 1980 as an independent and won 7 percent of the vote.