Swing States and the Dems
by CT student, Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 03:12:29 PM EST
We talk a lot here about electability - both the myth and the reality. It seems like the best way to discuss electability is to go through the swing states, one by one, and see who could win there.
I'm going to make two big assumptions. The first is that the electoral map will be broadly similar to 2004. In other words, Giuliani isn't swinging New York, there isn't another terrorist attack, and so on. The swing states are the same. For that reason, I'm going to count any state won by both Gore and Kerry as safe. I know that they aren't - especially Minnesota and Wisconsin - but if we can't deliver those seats to any of the three major candidates, we've got bigger problems. In any case, that's 248 electoral votes.
The second assumption is that the candidates run a good enough campaign along their current lines. I'd consider Kerry's campaign to have been well run - could've been better, but he did decently against an incumbent president during a war - so this isn't a particularly high bar. I'm just not going to factor in likelihood to make a big gaffe or to hire fools. Hillary will run a DLC/motherhood campaign, Edwards a populist campaign and Obama will be hopeful platitudes masking progessivism.
So how do you get the 22 electoral votes you need? Which of the big three (we haven't seen enough of anyone else's campaign to really judge) will get those votes, and where?
Florida - 27 votes. Trending Republican. There are more registered D's than R's, but Jeb has solidified a coalition of traditional southern conservatives, Cubans, education-focused mothers, and much better than average numbers of Jews and blacks. The swing population is the I-4 mothers. I'd say Hillary has the best chance of winning this one, followed by Obama. She can get the mothers, the African-Americans and is strongly pro-Israel for the more neoconservative Jews who vote GOP. This is tough for any Democrat, though.
Ohio - 20 votes. Going blue in a big way. With a collapsing industrial economy, Edwards is the man. Sherrod Brown shows the way. I'd put Obama in second here, following the Ted Strickland model of good government and virtue. Hillary is guaranteed to lose.
New Hampshire - 4 votes. They seem to like outsiders and people who seem honest. I'd give it to Obama, I guess, with Edwards probably winning here too, but predicting New Hampshire can be futile.
New Mexico - 5 votes. I know least about New Mexico of all the states I'm going to discuss. Anyone know anything?
Missouri - 11 votes. McCaskill ran a fairly conservative campaign - lots of stem cells and minimum wage. It reminded me of a potential Hillary run - very competent, not electric at all. Also she aimed to minimize damage in the rural areas - more Hillary than Edwards there. And I have it on the best of authorities that the St. Louis machine wouldn't work as well for a black man, so Obama's out. Hillary gets the edge, but Edwards could win here.
Iowa - 7 votes. I know Edwards is polling well for the caucuses, but that's a different beast. Only Obama strikes me as likely to do well here - he just sounds midwestern and that's important.
Virginia - 13 votes. Wishful thinking, but not impossible. None of them look very much like Jim Webb or even Mark Warner or Tim Kaine, do they? I'm not going to give out any votes here.
West Virginia - 5 votes. If Edwards is for real, he can take this state. More industrial areas, fewer exurban families than the average state.
Arkansas - 6 votes. You have to think Bill can pull this for Hillary.
North Carolina - 15 votes. If I'm putting Arkansas into play, it's only fair to at least discuss Edwards winning the state.
Colorado - 9 votes. I don't see a distinctly Colorado kind of Democrat. I'd put it in play for all three, but it'll come down to each of their ability's to deal with Western issues.
What I take from all of this is that Obama's path to victory is in a wave, not by counting to 270. Any of these states could go Obama, but I don't see his message translating as obviously onto any of them. Not at all a strike against him, though and probably a strength (he only seems at a disadvantage in Missouri). Hillary and Edwards both have paths to victory that seem totally reasonable. We have every reason to be optimistic about any of them. I don't, however, see too many winning combinations without either Florida or Ohio.