Who knew Nickelback could help your political career?

Representative+Rodney+Davis+makes+his+way+through+the+crowd+to+greet+and+chat+with+supporters+after+Vice+President+Pence%27s+speech+on+Oct.+8.+Columnist+Kyra+explores+potential+problems+Rep.+Davis+may+encounter+as+he+continues+in+his+term.
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Who knew Nickelback could help your political career?

Representative Rodney Davis makes his way through the crowd to greet and chat with supporters after Vice President Pence's speech on Oct. 8. Columnist Kyra explores potential problems Rep. Davis may encounter as he continues in his term.

Representative Rodney Davis makes his way through the crowd to greet and chat with supporters after Vice President Pence's speech on Oct. 8. Columnist Kyra explores potential problems Rep. Davis may encounter as he continues in his term.

Ben Tschetter

Representative Rodney Davis makes his way through the crowd to greet and chat with supporters after Vice President Pence's speech on Oct. 8. Columnist Kyra explores potential problems Rep. Davis may encounter as he continues in his term.

Ben Tschetter

Ben Tschetter

Representative Rodney Davis makes his way through the crowd to greet and chat with supporters after Vice President Pence's speech on Oct. 8. Columnist Kyra explores potential problems Rep. Davis may encounter as he continues in his term.

By Kyra Sadovi, Columnist

If you thought the country had agreed that we all hate Nickelback, Rep. Rodney Davis wants you to know you’re wrong.

During a debate on counting prisoners in the U.S. census on the House floor last Thursday, Rep. Mark Pocan compared the number of people who support counting prisoners in the census (according to his information, very few people) to the number of people who like Nickelback, the Canadian rock band often the butt of jokes about bad music. Davis quickly came to the band’s defense.

“Why would you criticize one of the greatest bands of the 90s?” Davis demanded. He continued, “I know that my colleague from Wisconsin did not mean to offend the thousands upon thousands of Nickelback fans in his district … I actually do have a Nickelback song on my running playlist that I listen to.”

The exchange seemed to cut the tension which has become a permanent presence in Washington, D.C. these days. It’s not uncommon for a politician to seize on a lighthearted moment like this to gain some traction. It’s what politicians on both sides of the aisle do to seem personable and attempt to solidify their presence in the news cycle. That’s how Davis found himself on Fox and Friends to “discuss the ‘Nickelback moment.’”

But for Davis, a fairly low-profile congressman who just barely squeaked out of his last election alive, his desperation to hang on to his newfound national attention was palpable. Following the “Nickelback debate,” as it has since been dubbed, Davis posted about the incident 13 times on Twitter, 11 times within 24 hours.

Frankly, Davis should be nervous. He represents a district a Republican should be able to win handily — not by the 0.3 margin he outran Democratic challenger Betsy Dirksen Londrigan. The main blue strongholds in the 13th district are Champaign County, where nearly 70 percent of voters supported Londrigan, and Sangamon County, which includes consistently blue Springfield. Beyond Champaign and Sangamon, though, Davis didn’t easily sweep the more rural counties. Of the 14 counties in the 13th district, Davis came out on top in 11 of them. Why, then, was his margin of victory so narrow?

An easy explanation is that the blue counties in the 13th — Sangamon, Champaign and McLean — comprise a large portion of the district’s population. But frustration with Davis’ governing style has inspired powerful opposition groups. Students on campus will likely recognize the “Unseat Rodney Davis” bumper stickers slapped on the backs of cars all over Champaign-Urbana. That movement was a grassroots effort spurred by a Champaign family, not directly from the Democratic National Committee. Protesters gathered outside of Davis’ office in Tolono in August to express their anger at his infrequent town halls and inefficient “office hours,” which they claimed were ineffective and restricted constituents’ access to their congressman.

Democrats in the district are especially angry that Davis withdrew support for President Trump after his divisive rhetoric about women before the 2016 election and now votes in line with the president on 93.8 percent of items brought to the floor.

So even though hearing debates about the merits of Nickelback on the floor of the House can be entertaining, Congressman Davis should know that his constituents are still watching. He can use this new (relative) clout to vote his conscience more frequently, outside of the shadow of the president, or take a moment to listen to more of his constituents about what they want him to push. If he doesn’t, he will certainly be facing another strong Democratic challenger come 2020, and his 0.3 point margin of victory might disappear altogether.

Kyra is a sophomore in LAS.

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