Monthly Archives: April 2008

Obama’s Strange Electoral Map

Cillizza has an interesting post about an Obama campaign memo using an electoral map to argue in favor of his electability. There’s nothing odd about using maps in campaign memos — the McCain camp and the Giuliani camp both leaned on maps to push narratives of electability.

What is strange is the map itself.

The Obama camp identified three tiers: “Big States,” “Traditional Battlegrounds” and “New States.” The “Big States” are pretty standard, but I have some questions about the “Traditional Battlegrounds” and the “New States.”

  • North Dakota and Montana? Really? There’s a potentially potent mix of fierce independents and civic-minded voters of Northern European descent that might like Obama’s post-partisan appeals, but these states are pretty red in presidential elections.
  • Texas? It’s clear that the Obama camp relied too heavily on that bizarre series of Survey USA 50 state polls about a month back. They should know better.
  • The mid-Atlantic: Is North Carolina more competitive than Virginia? I would say North Carolina is trending in the same ways that Virginia did in the last decade if anything.
  • Washington State: Is the Obama camp just assuming this is a lay-up?
  • And last but certainly not least: Where are Ohio and Florida? These two states are Clinton‘s best arguments for electability. Does the Obama camp have a coherent strategy on these two behemoths?

Obama’s Strange Electoral MapDark blue is the “Big States,” royal blue is the “Traditional Battlegrounds,” and light blue is the “New States”

Obama\'s Strange Electoral Map


Shades of Hoosier Red

Indiana has always been known to be Hoosier red.  But Indiana politics guru Brian Howey explains that “There appears to be two kinds of Republicans” in 2008:

“The ‘Obamacans’ as the Illinois senator likes to call them – earnest Republicans deeply disappointed in their own party’s performance on the budget, economy, social issues and the Iraq War – and the Rush Limbaugh Republicans who are planning to crossover to vote for Sen. Clinton because they perceive her to be the weakest rival to U.S. Sen. John McCain in the November election.”

Blue Jersey?

Republican pollster David Winston had a insightful column in Roll Call on Tuesday about the prospects of John McCain putting California into play, but he also had these interesting comments about New Jersey:

“McCain may have been at odds with a part of the GOP base on immigration and other issues. But as it turns out, he may be perfectly positioned to take advantage of Obama’s Hispanic problem, not just in California, but in blue states like New Jersey as well.

“In 2004, Hispanic voters made up 10 percent of the New Jersey electorate. Kerry won the state with 53 percent, close enough to make New Jersey a target state for Republicans in 2008.

“Clinton’s 38-point margin over Obama with Hispanic voters in the New Jersey primary, coupled with McCain’s moderate conservatism, could be a potent prescription for a tight race in November with even small movement in key groups like Hispanics or working-class swing voters.”

So could McCain win the Garden State? I’ve argued that he could pull together a winning combination of ethnic Catholics and Volvo Republicans.

But a new Monmouth University/Gannett poll out today has me thinking twice. According to the survey, Barack Obama would defeat McCain by a whoppin’ 24 points and Hillary Clinton would best him by 14 points.

If McCain wins New Jersey, it’ll just be the icing on the cake of his Pennsylvania victory.

Hillary Clinton is From Where?

Washington Wire reporter Amy Chozick notes that Clinton has boasted about roots in Scranton, South Texas, the Big Apple, Little Rock, the Golden State and the Midwest. “Even Clinton’s accent occasionally subtly changes from a Southern drawl to a Midwestern twang during some stump speeches.”

Next thing we know she’ll be claiming to be a Cubs fan and a Yankees fan. Oh, wait…

The Wine Track/Beer Track Map

Beer swigers prefer Clinton and wine sippers like Obama, right?

Not so simple, according to Poblano’s map at It turns out “Obama leads Clinton 13-10 in wine states, and 12-7 in beer states.”

Wine States Versus Beer States

Wine States Versus Beer States

McCain Team Announces 11 Regional Managers

The McCain camp has divided the electoral map into 11 regions and assigned a campaign director to each one.

John Peschong‘s region has the most electoral votes but Jon Seaton‘s will probably be the most pivotal.  One glaring question is why the McCain team would split the three key states in the Upper Mississippi River Valley — Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin — into three separate regions?

What do you think?  Who has the easiest and most difficult region to win for McCain?

McCain Campaign’s 11 Regions

McCain Campaign\'s 11 Electoral Map Regions

A Response to Soren Dayton’s “Map for Victory”

Soren Dayton posted a fascinating analysis at Red State last week detailing the ward-by-ward electoral map of Philadelphia and concluding that Barack Obama ‘s poor performance in ethic Catholic neighborhoods might signal a “realignment that puts the Northeast and the Rust Belt back in play” (If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s a must-read and has great maps to reinforce his argument).

I emailed Soren after he posted it and mentioned that while Obama has certainly been struggling with ethic Catholics, he’s excelled with mainline, Midwestern Protestants and has won key states in the Upper Mississippi River Valley. Obama’s weakness with ethics in Rust Belt states could be offset by his strength with the civic-minded Lutherans (and to a lesser extend Methodists) or Northern European descent in the Upper Midwest.

Soren emailed back his response, noting that there really is no data to back up the point that mainline Protestants are supporting Obama, and in any event, mainline Protestants who are Democrats are a pretty liberal bunch. Think Jim McGovern, he suggested. Soren also addressed Rust Belt ethics, noting that “The urban Catholic thing is probably different enough from the Jacksonian/Scots-Irish thing,” and that this voting bloc still has functioning machines in many Eastern industrial cities.

I agree with Soren on ethic Catholics, but I’m still not sure if it would offset Obama’s appeal in the Upper Midwest. Here’s my response to Soren:

I don’t have specific data to prove my point, but I think you’re underestimating Obama’s strength with the type of voters in the Upper Mississippi River Valley. He won the overwhelmingly white caucus states of Iowa and Minnesota (and working class whites in Wisconsin) because voters in these state hail from a Northern European heritage that values effective government over ideology. And they’re attracted to Obama’s abstract post-partisan messages of good-government and “hope” and are willing to overlook his liberalism.

Cultural issues like abortion might work with Southern Baptists and Rust Belt Catholics, but the Dutch Calvinists and German Lutherans of the Upper Midwest have a different agenda. They think in terms of efficiently rather than ideology, as evidenced by the fact that Iowa has always had the best schools and highest graduation rates, Minnesota has always had the highest voter participation rate and well-funded public radio and Wisconsin has the only publicly-owned pro sports franchise.

The Rust Belt Catholics that you mentioned, on the other hand, are certainly a vulnerable point for Obama. He’s been losing ethic Catholics as a dangerous rate, and Tom Schaller has noted that “In every presidential election since 1972 the winner of the Catholic vote has won the national popular vote, something no other religious group – Jews, evangelicals, Protestants – can boast.” Bush took 52 percent of Catholics in 2004 and Democrats won 55 percent of the demographic group in 2006.

Assuming he’s the nominee, Obama’s best chance to offset McCain’s targeting of ethic Catholics in the Rust Belt and industrial East Coast cities would be to target what I call Volvo Republicans. These “Obamacans,” as the candidate has called them, are prevalent in the Philadelphia and Northern Virginia suburbs. They’re the kind of Matthew Dowd-type of Republicans who have said they’d feel queasy attacking Obama (But that was before the Wright controversy, and I wonder if that episode may have had a lasting effect).

If McCain can secure those suburban, Volvo Republicans and win a strong proportion of ethic, conservative Catholics in cities Philadelphia, he has a good chance of winning Pennsylvania and even putting New Jersey and other Northeastern states into play. But he’s going to have a tougher time countering Obama’s appeal with mainline Protestants in the Upper Midwest, especially if the GOP decides to focus on hot-button cultural issues.