Monthly Archives: March 2008

McCain Looking Strong in the Northeast

New polls in New Jersey and Connecticut show John McCain tied with or leading both of his Democratic rivals in those two states. A new Rassmussen Reports survey of Garden State voters released today has McCain edging Barack Obama 43-42% and beating Hillary Clinton 45-42%. A Quinnipiac University poll of Connecticut voters released March 27 found Clinton sneaking by McCain 45-42%, and Obama trumping McCain 52-35%.

I’ve suggested before that McCain is going to make an early run at the blue Coasts. New Jersey trended toward George Bush between 2000 and 2004, and the prez increased his margins by 5.8% in Bergen County and 6.6% in Middlesex County. Connecticut is more Democratic but also is tougher to peg, having elected two independents statewide in recent years, including Lowell Weicker and Joe Lieberman, a McCain surrogate.

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Hillary Analyzes the Electoral Map

No, not this blog, but the small-letter electoral map. Here’s what she had to say about the political geography:

“You have to look at what the electoral map is likely to be in the fall, and I don’t think anybody doubts that a Democrat has to have a number of the big states anchored in order to put together the electoral votes needed to win.

“There’s a generally accepted position that Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida are the critical swing states for Democrats, and that you have to try to win at least two out of three. I would like to win three out of three, and I think it is significant that I have won Ohio and I’ve won Florida, and I’ve won the big states that would serve as those anchors for the electoral map.”

Anchors away, Mrs. Clinton!

Look West, Young Scribes

Both Ben Smith and Chris Cillizza turned their backs to the East today — Smith wrote a quick note about the DNC’s memo about “McCain’s Problems in the West” and Cillizza wrote a post handicapping the Democratic primary in Montana. Both reporters anticipate that the region will be in play. “Except for Utah, those ‘cactus caucus’ state could be hotly contested this fall, taking on Ohio- or Florida-like status in campaign coverage,” Smith suggested.

But Cillizza also sees Montana as a potential Tier I battleground in the Democratic primary in June. “It’s clear that Obama must be considered a favorite in the state given the population hub of Missoula and his on the ground efforts throughout the state,” Cillizza writes. “But it would be a mistake to write Clinton off, as Montana’s primary is not Idaho’s caucuses (or Wyoming’s, or Colorado’s) and she has several pockets of obvious support in the state.”

One thing is for sure, the press corps is sure lucky to have the opportunity to go to Montana in June. Just don’t forget that rules of Big Sky County: “In Montana there’s three things we’re never late for: church, work and fishing.”

Unlocking the Keystone

Pennsylvania political patriarch Terry Madonna had a interesting thought last week that Barack Obama might be able to pull off an unexpectedly strong performance in the Keystone State by using Gov. Ed Rendell‘s strategy from the 2002 gubernatorial primary.  Madonna and Michael Young identified three key points:

  1. Run up huge margins of victory in suburban Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
  2. Top off the suburban victories but strong performances in the Lehigh Valley and in the south.
  3. Lure Republicans across party lines.

It’s been widely reported that the Obama camp is executing on the third point of recruiting Republicans, and now Nick Beaudrot has a fascinating map detailing exactly where those New Blues are located.  It looks like most of the new registrations are in the same counties that Madonna and Young suggested should Obama target.

Pennsylvania New Democratic Registration (Cogitamusblog)

Pennsylvania New Democratic Registration

Happy Birthday Maryland!

Maryland celebrates its 300th birthday today, according to National Geographic. While Maryland may not be the cradle of presidents and generals that the mighty commonwealth of Virginia is, it did inspire The Wire. So we congratulate you, Maryland. Happy Birthday.

03-24-maryland-is-stupid.jpg

Hillary’s Last Dance?

A day after we declared that all eyes were it on North Carolina, it looks like everyone is turning their gaze to Indiana, which hosts its Democratic primary on the same day as the Tarheel State.

The Hotline suggests, “Forget Pennsylvania. Welcome to Indiana, the new North Carolina.” Sandwiched between Illinois (Obama) and Ohio (Clinton), “it’s the Switzerland of Dem primaries,” they declared.

The Post‘s Anne Kornblut also spotlighted the Hoosier State today as a contest in which both candidates have an even chance. “Obama has a home-field advantage,” Kornbult wrote, “while Clinton has the backing of the popular Sen. Evan Bayh and may have an edge on the kind of economic issues that are likely to dominate the discussion.”

Kornblut gives Clinton the advantage in factory towns like Evansville in southern Indiana and in the suburbs surrounding Indianapolis. She predicts that Obama will do well in the college towns of South Bend (Notre Dame), Bloomington (Indiana U.) and West Layfayette (Purdue), as well as in the African-American communities “that spill over from Chicago” and in Indianapolis.

All Eyes on North Carolina

And not just on UNC hoops.  A consensus is emerging that the Tarheel State could be the decisive contest, according to Mark Halperin.  If Barack Obama wins, then the nomination is his; but if Hillary Clinton prevails, then the battle will drag on.

It’s the first time since 1976 that North Carolina will be in the national spotlight in the presidential nomination process, according to the Fayetteville Observer

“While Ford got the nomination, [Reagan‘s] Tar Heel victory saved [his] presidential aspirations for another day. Historians say Reagan would have left politics had he not won North Carolina.  That same year, the Old South, represented by segregationist icon George Wallace, and the New South of Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter, clashed in the state’s Democratic primary. [Carter’s victory and Wallace’s loss] ended Wallace’s national political career.”

Will the 2008 contest put Clinton’s dogs to rest?

I think Obama has a distinct advantage based on both the percentage of African-Americans in the Democratic primary and the influx of independent voters, which are both constituencies that the Illinois senator has excelled with.  I’m posting a map of the black population below, and for analysis on independents in North Carolina read my National Journal article “Is North Carolina the New Virginia?

For her part, Clinton should do well in North Carolina’s western hills and hollows.  Politico‘s Jonathan Martin had a smart observation that “Clinton’s strength in the highlands is undeniable. Which is why she’ll do well in Pennsylvania on April 22 and then very well in West Virginia and Kentucky on May 13. And in between, she’ll probably win every county in North Carolina west of Winston-Salem and Charlotte (except possibly in Buncombe, home to bohemian Asheville).”

2004 North Carolina Electoral Map (CNN.com)

2004 North Carolina Electoral Map

African-American Population in North Carolina  (U.S. Demographics Visualizer)

More purple is more African-American.

African-American Population in North Carolina