Swing States and the Dems

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.

Tags: 2008, AR, clinton, CO, Edwards, FL, IA, MO, NH, NM, obama, OH, VA, WV (all tags)



Without Ohio.

    We can do it without Ohio: New Hampshire, New Mexico, Colorado, and Iowa.  All four had big Democratic victories in 2006.  I think Colorado will be ready for a Democratic victory in 2008.  We have a better chance of winning Ohio than the GOP.  I think any of the three first tier candidates will play better in Ohio than Kerry did.  I'm still pissed that Al Gore lost West Virginia in 2000.  We need it back.  If we start winning states in the upper south, we're on the way to a big victory.

by cilerder86 2007-01-29 03:34PM | 0 recs
My Understanding

that Hillary had fewer visits to MO than Edwards or Obama.  McCaskill didn't want hillary there too much

by TarHeel 2007-01-29 04:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Swing States and the Dems

Interesting conjecture that Hillary plays best in Florida. Subjectively I would guess Edwards due to more pull among swing white males, but I can see the Hillary angle if you consider the 2004 Florida senate and presidential results. Betty Castor significantly outperformed Kerry and it was almost exclusively among women. Bush won the women's vote 50-49 according to Florida exit polls, but Castor took women by a substantial 53-46.

Otherwise, I think West Virginia and North Carolina are out, minus a significant wave. Arkansas went heavily for Bill but whether they consider Hillary as one of their own is something I can't judge. High percentage of self-identified conservatives in Arkansas, which makes me skeptical. Same thing in Missouri, to lesser degree.

I think we'll take Iowa regardless of the nominee, and New Mexico was probably rightfully Kerry's in '04 minus the lost votes via old electronic machines, which have now been jettisoned.

Colorado and Virginia are similar, steadily trending our way but probably a tad shy in '08, unless the VP slot boosts us or the nation is several point Democratic leaning, which is where we are headed right now.

Ohio looks very good considering the '06 results including a new Democratic secretary of state. I still don't see demographic changes similar to Colorado or Virginia, but that may not matter if the state starts voting blue and is content with it. The Sherrod Brown result shocked me more than anything in '06.

You didn't mention Nevada. Trending somewhat red due to turnout superiority in rural counties compared to Las Vegas, but still winnable if our nominee can cut losses in Washoe County (Reno). Kerry did surprisingly well there. The Gibbons/Titus gubernatorial result is somewhat misleading statewide since Titus had severe weakness in Washoe due to harsh comments made in the state legislature, and her opponent Gibbons was from that area to begin with.

by Gary Kilbride 2007-01-29 04:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Swing States and the Dems

New Hampshire, Ohio, Arkansas, Colorado, and Iowa should be top priorities after the results of 2006.  Any of the top three Dems should be able to take them.

by jallen 2007-01-29 05:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Swing States and the Dems

Missouri is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.

Claire McCaskill ran a great campaign. The minimum wage initiative was the key, in my estimation.

John Edwards did quite well in Missouri, especially after the collapse of several other campaigns:

Official Election Returns
State of Missouri Presidential Preference Primary  - Presidential Preference Primary
Tuesday, February 03, 2004
As announced by the Board of State Canvassers
on Monday, February 23, 2004

Office  Candidate Name     Votes        % Of Votes
 U.S. President And Vice President      
   Lieberman, Joe     DEM     14,727      3.5%    
   Kucinich, Dennis J.     DEM     4,875      1.2%    
   Gephardt, Dick     DEM     8,281      2.0%    
   Clark, Wesley K.     DEM     18,340      4.4%    
   LaRouche, Lyndon H. Jr.     DEM     953      .2%    
   Edwards, John     DEM     103,088      24.6%    
   Kerry, John F.     DEM     211,745      50.6%    
   Dean, Howard     DEM     36,288      8.7%    
   Penna, Fern     DEM     335      .1%    
   Sharpton, Al     DEM     14,308      3.4%    
   Moseley Braun, Carol     DEM     1,088      .3%    
   Uncommitted     DEM     4,311      1.0%


I wouldn't count anyone out.

by Michael Bersin 2007-01-30 03:35AM | 0 recs
Re: Swing States and the Dems

AR - a lock for Clinton. Very consistent polling in hypothetical matchups vs all of the usual suspects (including Huckabee) She wins every time. Doesn't hold up for the rest of the south, though -- no big surprise.

VA - GOP. Hasn't gone Dem in a presidential election since '64, I think. I see almost any GOP candidate winning against any Dem candidate, barring a big screw-up, Allen-style.

OH - big surprise -- a Q-poll shows Clinton winning against any of McCain/Giuliani/Romney in OH.

Edwards beats McCain. Obama does not, but it's close.

Hot off the press

Damn, that's good news.

NC - only Edwards has even a chance, remote at that. Frankly, I don't understand why 40% polled "somebody else" for Dem contenders with only 13% "someone else" for GOP contenders. I am perplexed by the apparent Giuliani/Gingrich support in NC -- explanations?

by dblhelix 2007-01-30 05:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Swing States and the Dems

At the bottom of the OH poll is an earlier poll for NJ. Giuliani beats Clinton significantly. Yikes, I don't see any Dem as competitive against Giuliani in NJ at present.

by dblhelix 2007-01-30 05:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Swing States and the Dems

There are about 15 showdown states and the deep south is not one of them. I think the winning comnbination includes either OH or FL without them we cannot take the presidency. AR or NC aren't one of the showdown states. These states probably will go GOP unless there is a blowout. The 15 showdown states are included on the cnn website: http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004/

by olawakandi 2007-01-30 06:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Swing States and the Dems

A state that the Dems will carry is 7 pts or less and NC, VA, and AR were carried by Bush by greater than 7 pts. The only exception is WV which went 13 pts to Bush, but that state has been Democratic until recently.

by olawakandi 2007-01-30 06:31AM | 0 recs


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