Analyzing Swing States: Ohio, Part 1

By: Inoljt, http://thepolitikalblog.wordpress.com/

This is the first part of an analysis of the swing state Ohio. The second part can be found here.

Is Ohio a liberal place? Or is it a conservative place?

I suspect far more people would say the latter rather than the former.

In many respects, Ohio is politically similar to Florida. Both are well-known swing states that hold a bountiful electoral prize. Both lean Republican. Both have large cites that function as pools of Democratic votes. Both also have considerable rural, Republican regions.

But in other ways they could not be more different. Sunny Florida is diverse, growing, and service-oriented. While Florida often votes Republican, it is not exactly conservative. Cold, northern Ohio is a rust-belt giant. It is not very diverse. It is definitely not growing. Florida is new. Ohio is old and conservative.

For the moment Ohio is a bit more conservative than the country at large. For the past eight out of nine presidential elections, it has been a bit redder than the nation. Not much redder, but enough to be noticeable.

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I do not think that the future looks bright for the Democratic Party in Ohio. The two are moving in opposite directions. Demographically, Ohio is staying static while the country at large changes. And there are not many truly liberal spots in Ohio - places like Boulder, CO or Seattle. There never were.

Ohio has a lot of unionized, working-class folk who are still voting against Herbert Hoover; they are a core part of its Democratic base. I am not sure how long they will continue to support a party that is becoming, quite frankly, fairly upper-class in ethos. People in West Virginia certainly don't anymore.

Not that Ohio is doomed to become a Republican stronghold. Places like Columbus are rapidly turning blue, perhaps fast enough to offset losses in working-class counties. And it isn't inevitable that those counties will start voting Republican. If West Virginia is a prime example of working-class voters who deserted the Democratic Party, Michigan is a prime example of working-class voters that still support it. Barack Obama won a landslide in that state.

Nevertheless, my gut still tells me that Ohio and the Democratic Party are shifting farther and farther away from each other. These things can reveal themselves very quickly in politics. In 1988, California was a red state that had voted Republican for six elections in a row. Then one day it was won by Bill Clinton - and it has never gone back since then. In 1996 West Virginia had gone blue for five out of the past six elections. Then George Bush won the state - and now we consider it a rock-hard Republican state.

That may be the fate of Ohio.

There's more...

The Second Election Night Trend

By: Inoljt, http://thepolitikalblog.wordpress.com/

For Democrats, the election's most worrying result was not in Virginia, New Jersey, or Maine. It was the special election in CA-10.

At first glance, this might seem a bit puzzling. Democrats won that election, after all - and they won it by a comfortable 10% margin.

Yet, when compared to previous elections, this result is quite an underperformance. Barack Obama, for instance, won this congressional district by three times that margin. Since 2002, moreover, former Democratic congressman Ellen Tauscher had never polled below 65% of the vote.

Moreover, the election revealed more about the national mood than, say, Virginia or New Jersey. Those races were heavily dependent on local factors (e.g. the quality of the Deeds campaign, the unpopularity of Governor Jon Corzine). In CA-10, you had two low-recognition candidates and little publicity; it was closer to a generic ballot poll.

If  CA-10 could be characterized as a generic ballot poll, then Democrats should be extremely worried. In 2009, CA-10 went from a 30% Democratic victory to a 10% one: a 10-point shift to the right. Similar shifts were seen in New Jersey and Virginia; the electorate as a whole moved substantially to the right. The Democrats were very fortunate that Tuesday did not constitute a full-blown congressional election; they would have been crushed.

There is good news, however. Democratic weakness two days ago resulted more from an energized Republican base than a fundamental shift in the national mood. Republicans, motivated and unhappy, turned out; President Barack Obama's coalition did not. The president still attains approval ratings in the low 50s - hardly the sign of an unpopular incumbent.

The bad news is that I am not sure if Mr. Obama's coalition will turn out for the 2010 congressional elections. His voters have been curiously lethargic ever since his election; their low turn-out was how Senator Saxy Chambliss in Georgia went from a 3% general victory to a 14% run-off victory. Republicans, then, may do well next year.

In fact, I am not even sure Mr. Obama's coalition will re-emerge in 2012, when he goes up for re-election. The president, after all, ran on a campaign of hope, change, and idealism. The difficult compromises forced by governing have tainted this brand, and it will inevitably continue to be diluted over the next three years. Obama's 2008 coalition may go down as unique in American history, much like former President Jimmy Carter's coalition.

I hope it will not. There is that word again.

There's more...

Analyzing Swing States: Florida, Part 5

This is the last part of an analysis on the swing state Florida. The previous parts can be found here.

Here is how John Kerry did in south Florida:

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Here is how Barack Obama performed:

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Broward and Palm Beach are marginally smaller, when compared to Obama's performance. The big difference, however, is with Miami-Dade. Kerry won it by 6%; Obama won it by 16%.

There is no other place in Florida (and, perhaps, the country) like Miami-Dade. Palm Beach and Broward counties are retiree destinations; Miami is home to immigrants and refugees from all Latin America. More than 60% of the population is Latino - and only 3% of them come from Mexico. The Miami accent is unique compared with the nation. Local government is distinct from other counties in Florida.

One would expect Miami to be one of the most Democratic places in the nation, much like New York City or Chicago.

It is not.

The reason why is below the flip.

There's more...

Analyzing Swing States: Florida, Part 4

This is the fourth part of an analysis on the swing state Florida. The last part can be found here.

The Miami Metropolis

Diverse, populous, sun-baked - south Florida is far different from the rest of the state. It is the Democratic base, where liberals win their biggest margins.

Here is how Barack Obama did in South Florida:
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Like most Democratic candidates, he obtains huge margins. Compare the size of the circles here to those in the I-4 corridor (this can't be done regarding northern Florida, unfortunately). They're a magnitude bigger.

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For why this is so, see below the fold.

There's more...

Analyzing Swing States: Florida, Part 3

This is part three of a series on the political structure of the swing state Florida. Part four can be found here.

The I-4 Corridor

If there is a holy grail of Florida politics, it is winning the I-4 corridor. This refers to the Interstate 4 highway, which begins in Tampa Bay, travels though Orlando, and ends in Daytona Beach.

Here is the performance of a relatively weak Democrat, John Kerry, in the I-4 corridor:
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John Kerry gets absolutely pummeled. There is a sea of red counties. This is the reason why John Kerry lost Florida.

Here is the performance of a stronger Democrat, Barack Obama:

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Continued below the flip.

There's more...

Diaries

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