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Watch the gap! exhort warning signs on platforms of many metropolitan area railway stops, both above and below ground. Imagine the safety challenge we'd have boarding or alighting from a train in the brief instant it pulls up at a depot, if the space separating the train from the platform were an ever-widening divide.

For the third consecutive issue in American Demographics and I suspect for many issues in the months and years to come an underlying theme through the important articles we offer you is that of ever-widening divides, or polarization. An expanding chasm separates Red States from Blue States, the educationally attained versus the educationally impoverished, the emerging nonwhite majority versus the non-Hispanic white minority, the new-age household versus the traditional nuclear family, the haves and have-nots, the whats and whatnots, etc.

So, like the Inuits, who mythically use hundreds of words in their vocabulary for the term snow, we'll continue to look for ways to effectively characterize, demystify and watch the gaps as they crop up and challenge organizations to try to bridge them. Stay tuned for divide, chasm, disparity, discrepancy, disconnect, crevasses, gulf, tension, separation, abyss, and more such descriptors of what may well be time to name the Us-Them decade.

The most immediate challenge of dealing with disparities could be that facing the respective candidacies of President George W. Bush and Democratic Sen. John Kerry. To shed additional light on that challenge, we namely our Washington, D.C. correspondent Alicia Mundy felt it would be productive to gut-check committed voters on exactly how committed they are, and question them on what it would take to get them to reconsider their Election Day choice if certain plausible scenarios played out.

Alicia's line of inquiry, fielded for us by Zogby International, resulted in a story full of surprises and intriguing ramifications for professional politicos and their assumptions about Red vs. Blue. The story What Would Make You Switch? on page 21, reveals, among other things, that red could potentially bleed into blue and vice versa, polarization or not. Also, our Brookings Institution guru William Frey gives readers a plain-English way of understanding the demographic dynamics of the 2004 election swing states in his Battling Battlegrounds analysis starting on page 24. Importantly, Bill notes that while all the fuss is over states such as Florida and Ohio for demographically opposite reasons longer term migration patterns show that by 2008 or, certainly by 2012, electoral vote reapportionment will likely mean a whole different batch of states will be on the fence as they become firmly Red or Blue.

Speaking of red, the article that details the hardest polarization pill to swallow for those of us alive today is the story James A. Taylor, PhD. weaves around the notion of America's Third Great Migration. In Manifest Destiny 3.0, on page 28, Jim creates a scenario so compelling and so profound that we felt we needed to do all we could to help readers visualize it as a first step in reckoning with the notion of 50 million migrs from North to South over the next 20 years.

It's the best way we know to say to you, watch the gap!

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