Election Night Eating: A Tasting Menu For What’s At Stake

November 1, 2014

This Tuesday, NPR is hosting a virtual election viewing party, and we want you to join us.

NPR’s politics team has put together a nifty little web-based app designed to let listeners at home follow the results of races around the country along with our hosts on their TVs, Google Chromecast, iPads or laptops. You’ll tap into the same real-time results that our hosts and reporters see.

Still, you can’t have a party without good grub. So the Washington desk asked us to put together a suggested tasting menu for those of you joining us at home, inspired by the politics in play. Call it a taste-bud tutorial to what’s at stake.

Ten Senate seats* are considered to be up for grabs this November – Republicans need to win six of them to take control of that chamber. If you’re hankering for poultry, you could give jerk chicken a try in homage to the Senate race in Iowa. OK, so this dish has nothing to do with corn country, but it does speak to one reason why Democratic candidate Bruce Braley has seen his lead in this race erode: Critics allege he’s not a very nice guy. Fueling that image is a flap over a dispute with a neighbor — apparently, a neighbor’s chickens wandered onto his property and Braley was forced to deny that he threatened litigation over the episode.

For those of you in a pork sort of place, look to North Carolina, where Democratic incumbent Sen. Kay Hagen is hoping her chances of re-election amid anti-Obama sentiment aren’t as smoked as the state’s famous barbecue.

What about drinks, you ask? Kentucky bourbon, of course. While the GOP is hoping to win the Senate, their leader in that chamber, Mitch McConnell, finds himself fighting to keep his own seat back in Kentucky. He and his Democratic challenger, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, were projected to spend enough on the race to buy just about every man, woman and child in that state a bottle of Maker’s Mark.

And for dessert, you could turn to Alaska, where, in part thanks to President Obama’s unpopularity in this red state, Democratic Sen. Mark Begich is in hot water. Why not capture some of that heat and serve up baked Alaska?

Or, there’s always New Hampshire, where Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen is facing off against Republican Scott Brown. Name ring a bell? That’s because Brown used to be a senator in Massachusetts – he shook the Democratic establishment by winning the seat left empty by Sen. Edward Kennedy’s death in 2010, then lost it in 2013. Brown’s family ties to New Hampshire go back generations, but critics see him as nothing but a carpetbagger. In his honor, we humbly suggest you top off the night with some Boston cream pie.

*The 10 battleground states in the Senate are: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Hampshire, North Carolina. We didn’t hit all these races with our menu – so suggest your own politically themed dishes in the comments section below.

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