Can John McCain Win with Only the South?
by Jonathan Singer, Thu Sep 11, 2008 at 03:22:57 PM EDT
On Tuesday, I asked if John McCain's apparent gains in national polling were coming from the South, a region that is more or less off the table in the race for 270 electoral votes this fall. Indeed, both NBC News/Wall Street Journal polling and the latest Gallup numbers both showed McCain making up much of the ground in the South, with Gallup finding that the only -- only -- region in which McCain led Barack Obama was the South. Now new Research 2000 polling shows very similar results. Take a look:
These numbers are more problematic for McCain than you might think given the overall closeness of the national campaign. Back in 2004, George W. Bush not only carried the South by a 58 percent to 42 percent margin, he also beat John Kerry in the Midwest 51 percent to 48 percent and nearly won the West, losing just 50 percent to 49 percent. McCain carries just one region to Bush's two, and is less competitive in the West to boot. In fact, McCain's numbers look a lot more like those of the Republicans in 2006 when the party lost overwhelmingly in the race for the House. Then the party only carried the South, 53 percent to 45 percent (compared to McCain's 54 percent to 38 percent lead), pulling in 35 percent in the Northeast (compared to McCain's 37 percent today), 47 percent in the Midwest (to McCain's 43 percent today), and 43 percent in the West (to McCain's 44 percent).
So the question becomes, can McCain win the White House only carrying the South? He might be able to pull of a popular vote win doing so, though it would be a stretch, but in the electoral college winning only the South and losing the other three regions of the country would make McCain's path to 270 electoral votes challenging, to say the least. So just how does he expect to swing it?