Karl Rove's Final Electoral Map: Obama Victory!!!

Karl Rove's final electoral map for the 2008 election shows a stunning 338 to 200 electoral vote victory for Obama over McCain, the largest margin since 1996.

Rove predicts that Obama WILL WIN Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado, ceding only Indiana and N. Carolina to McCain among the most closely watched states.

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The Map Will Tighten Before It's Over

Up until the Republican convention, observers of this election had been told that this election is going to be different, that the winner is going to "redraw" the electoral map.  After all, between 2000 and 2004, only three states switched sides (New Hampshire, Iowa and New Mexico).  It really was time for a change, and we heard some variant of this idea from really smart guys, like Chuck Todd and Larry Sabato.(1);You know the refrain: close elections are the exception, not the rule; and rarely has the electoral map showed so much long-term equilibrium.  The Cleveland-Harrison map of 1884-1892 was remade by McKinley in 1896; Truman's upset did not resemble the Roosevelt victories of 1940-1944.  So, the "theory" goes, we can discard our preconceived notion of blue and red states, as there are several states that can potentially switch sides.  

    Then came the selection of Sarah Palin, and the race tightened--primarily due to an energized Republican base.  Just like that, we were back to the traditional swing states: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and Florida.  This CW lasted about two weeks, until the onset of the current financial meltdown; in its wake, we are told that Barack Obama is once again poised to redraw the map.  The idea seems plausible--but it is probably wrong.  This essay will suggest that, in addition to polling data or economic statistics, there are four sociological factors to consider when modeling voter behavior in so-called swing states (including, of course, the potential for a Bradley Effect).  

Full Disclosure: I am a Democrat, but I know the first rule of the social sciences is to recognize the difference between normative and positive--between how we would like the world to work, and how it really works.  Which is another way of saying: the idea that Obama ever had a serious shot in Georgia, or that he still has a real shot in Montana, is seriously misguided.  It is one thing for pundits to engage in speculation; all it does is to annoy the informed reader or viewer.  But this lack of tough-mindedness can have serious strategic implications for determining where a campaign allocates its resources.  

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On Defense

On Thursday, Chris Cilizza reported on a McCain campaign electoral strategy call during which senior McCain advisor Greg Strimple said the following:

"To say we are on defense is not true," insisted Strimple. "We are aggressively using our resources in states where we have to win."

As evidence of this they unveiled their plan to compete for Maine's second congressional seat and revealed that their strategy includes, and indeed depends, on competing on turf that John Kerry won in 2004. Add to that Palin's rally in the bluest county of one of the bluest states yesterday, and you get a picture of a campaign decidedly on offense. But as with so much else about the McCain campaign, that appearance is merely a facade.

Methinks, Mr. Strimple, thou doth protest too much.

Take for example where Sarah Palin is as we speak:

In another sign that Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District is in play in the race for the White House, Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin will speak at a public rally tonight in Omaha.

The campaign stop will be at the Civic Auditorium. Doors open at 4 p.m. Palin is expected to take the stage sometime after 6:30 p.m.

Sen. John McCain's running mate will stop in Omaha en route to an event in Florida, said Wendy Riemann, a McCain campaign spokeswoman.

This stop just 2 days after the Obama campaign confirmed it had opened its second field office in Omaha, a sign that he is actively trying to turn that second cd blue.

Contrast where Palin is today with where Obama was today: Asheville, NC. Which campaign is on offense and which is on defense again?

As even Karl Rove conceded on Fox News Sunday today:

Obama has forced this more onto the Republican turf and off the Democratic turf and that's where you want to be at this point.

Nate Silver elaborated on the significance of Palin's appearance in Omaha:

Berge told us that we'd know if the Nebraska 2d congressional district internals had the McCain camp worried if we started seeing Republican surrogates in the area. With every day's time so precious for each candidate -- an issue of resource allocation -- campaigns have to prioritize where the smartest expenditure of time will be. The nominee or VP nominee going to an area is a big deal. [...]

"Oh c'mon, do we have to?" aside, if the McCain campaign is defending Omaha rather than spending time in Michigan, there is no bluffing going on -- McCain is holding on for dear life at this stage.

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The cake is a lie.

Recently, there's been a trend to argue that Hillary should receive the nomination due to the fact that she's more electable. She, in current polling, receives far more electoral votes. The path to the election, Clinton conventional wisdom goes, is a piece of cake.

As per my title, I disagree.

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`Expands west' vs. `Traditional map weakness necessitates looking elsewhere'

How long after Obama is the presumptive nominee (i.e. after June 4th) will it take for the media to change its tune from 'Obama expands the electoral map to the west' to 'Obama's weakness in traditional and swing states necessitates capturing several hard to attain western states'?

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