Category Archives: Colorado

Obama’s Anti-Kerry Strategy = Genius

In an interview with Politico‘s Ben Smith published this morning, Obama field director Steve Hildebrand vowed that their team would be spending a lot of time and money in Bush country this Fall. He named 14 red states, some of which were close in 2004 and some of which Kerry didn’t even consider, and he also vowed to give resources to down-ticket races in ruby red states like Bush’s Texas and Cheney‘s Wyoming.

The move is genius.

A big reason why Kerry lost is because he had tunnel vision and couldn’t see beyond a handful of competitive swing states in the Midwest, a failed strategy for several reasons: First, it oversaturates the target voters; secondly, it discourages friendly voters in unfriendly states (in this case Dems in red states) from getting involved; and thirdly and most importantly, it sends a very poor signal to the electorate in neglected states (in Kerry’s case the Heartland and South).

When a candidate puts all his chips on one hand, half of the time he’s going to end up felted.

Of course, resources are always an issue and something Kerry didn’t have in abundance. But as Smith notes in the Politico article, “Hilebrand’s plans underscore the unusual scope and ambition of Obama’s campaign, which can relatively cheaply extend its massive volunteer and technological resources into states which won’t necessarily produce electoral votes.”

And the ROI could be substantial. As Hokie fan Daivd “Mudcat” Saunders points out this week in the brilliant Weekly Standard cover piece “When Bubba Meets Obama,” when Dems pick off a Republican voter, it’s a “twofer” — one for Obama, and one less for McCain. Instead, Mudcat says, Dems often fall into the habit of “hunting squirrels they’ve already killed” (more on this story later).

Mudcat will probably be happy to know that the campaign has promised to contest 14 states that Bush carried in ’04 — “The closest four, Iowa, New Mexico, Ohio, Nevada, [Hildebrand] said, would see ‘a ton of attention.'” The campaign also plans to fight for Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Virginia, North Carolina, Montana, North Dakota, Indiana, Georgia and Alaska. Hildebrand also said they’d be spending a lot of time in New Hampshire, and in my personal favorite: Nebraska’s 2nd District.

I think it’s a smart move, and one that will certainly give The Electoral Map a lot to talk about in upcoming months.

Once Upon a Time in the West

Once upon a time the West was solid GOP territory, but in 2008, the Democrats hope to make the region competitive.

The Los Angeles Times and the Politico have very similar but interesting articles today about how the top presidential contenders for each party are campaigning throughout the West early this week.  Both Barack Obama and John McCain gave remarks in New Mexico for Memorial Day; Obama is in Las Vegas and McCain is in Denver today; and Obama visits Colorado while McCain shoots over to Reno tomorrow.

Politico’s Carrie Buddoff Brown explains the important of the region, writing, “President Bush picked up 19 electoral votes across these three states – the margin by which Democrat John Kerry fell short in the Electoral College in 2004. He edged out Kerry by five percentage points in Colorado, two points in Nevada and less than one point in New Mexico.”

L.A. TimesMaeve Reston, Noam N. Levey and Scott Martelle break down the raw tallies, explaining, “Bush defeated Democrat John F. Kerry in the three states by a combined 127,011 votes — just 8,412 votes more than his margin in Ohio. Had Kerry won the three Western battlegrounds, he would be president.”

Our friends E.J. Kalafarski and Chadwick Matlin at Slate have a great map of where the candidates are campaigning —  here’s the link to the interactive of their go-to site “Map the Candidates.” As a side note, check out how Hillary Clinton is still actively campaigning in the primary states of South Dakota and Montana.

Obama and McCain Tour the Mountain West (Map the Candidates)

McCain and Obama Tour the West

And I’ll let Mark Knopfler take care of the soundtrack for this post:

Navigating the “Southwest Passage”

In a fascinating article in The American Prospect today, Tom Schaller dissects whether or not John McCain will thwart the Democrats’ hopes to capture the southwest in 2008. He makes the usual key points that McCain has good name recognition in the West and has a good rep with Hispanics.

But Schaller also adds some counterpoints that I hadn’t thought about. The Arizona senator might face pressure from both conservatives who have issues with “Juan McCain” and Hispanics who think that he walked away from the immigration bill when the going got tough. Popular Democratic govs and Senate candidates could also offer a reverse-coattail effect.

But Schaller ends with perhaps the most important point: The West is growing at such a rapid clip that it’s tough to handicap these voters. As Schaller notes, “the Southwest should be the most difficult to project because Arizona, Nevada and Colorado are consistently the three fastest growing states in the nation, and therefore the hardest to figure out.”

Cillizza to Begin Rating Top 10 States Most Likely to Flip

The Fix’s Chris Cillizza announced on Friday that he’s going to begin dedicating his Friday Line to rating which states are most likely to flip from red to blue (or vice versa) in the presidential election.  In last week’s Line, Cillizza offered his base-Line and predicted that eight of the 10 states most likely to flip were carried by George W. Bush.

Here’s an abbreviated version of his post, followed by my analysis:

10. Missouri (Bush 53% in 2004) — Cillizza: “The state is still conservative-minded on most social issues, however, which could make it something of a longshot for either Obama or Clinton.” Me: As a white woman, Hillary has a better shot.

9. Minnesota (Kerry 51%) – “If [Republican Gov. Tim] Pawlenty is picked [as McCain’s running mate], Minnesota is in play and could certainly move up the Line.” It’s no surprise the Republicans picked the Twin Cities for their Convention.

8. Florida (Bush 52%) – “Our guess it that Florida in 2008 looks more like 2000 than 2004 — especially if Clinton is the Democratic nominee.”  Could new, independent voters in the I-4 corridor and the thawing of Cuban-American relations with Democrats tip the state back toward to the donkey party?

7. New Hampshire (Kerry 50%) – “Granite State voters created McCain in 2000 and saved him eight years later. There is real affinity there and, given the close result in 2004, the state is almost certainly in play.” Who would win a McCain-Obama battle for New Hampshire’s independents?

6. Virginia (Bush 54%) – “McCain’s military background could well help him in the Hampton Roads area, but, if Obama is the Democratic nominee, the Commonwealth’s 19 percent black population could also make a major difference.”  McCain would have to run up huge margins outside of NoVA.

5. Ohio (Bush 51%) – “While the disaster that is the Ohio GOP at the moment makes it very tough for them to win statewide races, McCain and the Republican National Committee will fund and build their voter identification and get out the vote effort.”  Clinton would start strong here, buoyed by Gov. Ted Strickland.

4. Colorado (Bush 52%) – “McCain’s ties to the west should help his cause but Colorado looks like it’s moving in the opposite direction.” The Democrats’ Denver Convention will help them.

3. Nevada (Bush 50%) – “As a result of the ever-changing electorate, it’s tough to predict what November will hold for the two parties.” Do Las Vegas residents vote?

2. New Mexico (Bush 50%) – “Democrats enjoyed a 50 percent to 33 percent registration edge over Republicans at the start of the year; that is a considerable head start heading into November.”  What do McCain’s southwestern credentials count for?

1. Iowa (Bush 50%) – “The millions spent by the Democratic presidential campaigns in advance of the state’s Jan. 3 caucus should give a HUGE boost to their party’s chances in the general election.”  A natural Democratic state that I was surprised to see vote Republican in 2004.

Will John McCain Paint the Map Red?

John Fund sure thinks so. In a Wall Street Journal column from Monday (that I put off until day because of the Potomac Primary), Fund explains how McCain gets to 270:

  • New Hampshire: “The Granite State went only narrowly to Mr. Kerry, a senator from a neighboring state, and Mr. McCain has unique advantages there. New Hampshire elections are determined by how that state’s fiercely independent voters go, and Mr. McCain has won over many of them in both the 2000 and 2008 GOP primaries. He spent 47 days in New Hampshire before this year’s primary and is well-known in the state.”
  • Rocky Mountain West: “McCain’s roots in the Rocky Mountain West complicate Democratic efforts to take states in that region.”
  • Nevada and Colorado: “His fierce individualism and support for property rights play well in Nevada and Colorado, which were close in 2004.”
  • New Mexico: “Next door to Mr. McCain’s Arizona, gave Mr. Bush a very narrow 49.6% to 49% victory in 2004. But Mr. McCain’s nuanced position on immigration marks him as the GOP candidate who is most likely to hold the Hispanic voters who are the key to carrying New Mexico.”
  • Minnesota and Wisconsin: “Should he pick Minnesota’s Gov. Tim Pawlenty as his vice presidential choice, he might have a leg up on carrying both Minnesota and Wisconsin, which went narrowly for Mr. Kerry in 2004.”
  • Michigan and Oregon: “McCain can be competitive in other blue states. Michigan went Democratic in 2004 by only 3.4% of the total vote, and Oregon by just over 4%.”
  • California: “The latest Field Poll in California puts Mr. McCain and Hillary Clinton in a statistical tie.”
  • Connecticut: “Support from Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Democratic Party’s 2000 vice presidential candidate, could put Connecticut in contention.”
    • New Jersey: “Ditto New Jersey, which Mr. Bush lost by only 53% to 46% in 2004.”
  • Pennsylvania: “Michael Smerconish, the most popular talk-show host in Philadelphia, believes Mr. McCain has a real chance to carry the state…. His independence and maverick status are exactly the qualities that could help him carry the tightly contested Philadelphia suburbs that voted to re-elect GOP senator Arlen Specter, a moderate, in 2004 but rejected conservative Rick Santorum in 2006.”

Why did Fund stop there? He could have added that McCain could hold Virginia because its military personnel, or Florida because of all of its retirees.

Looks like Fund’s angling for a repeat of 1972.

1972 Electoral Map (Red denotes Democratic; blue denotes Republican)

1972 Electoral Map

Democrats and a Southwestern Strategy

Simon Rosenberg and Pete Leyden believe that Democrts could be poised for a generation takeover, much in the same way that FDR ushered in a new era in 1932 and Ronald Reagan redrew the map in 1980. In the latest issue of Mother Jones, the two Democratic strategist lay out their blueprint for that new order.

They argue that a key component is focusing on the so-called “Hispanic Belt.” If Democrats turn blue Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico and hold states that voted Democratic in 2000 and 2004, then they would capture 277 electoral votes.

But Rosenberg and Leyden think that the Southwest Strategy might just be the beginning. They add:

“Adding Florida would put it at 304. If you throw in swing states where Democrats have scored impressive wins in recent years—Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia, maybe even Arkansas—Democrats could construct a durable majority of 354 electoral votes: landslide territory.”

Of course, this theory is flush with “if’s.” For starters, it assumes that blue states from 2000 and 2004 are part of the Democratic “base.” Is Michigan part of the base? Or Wisconsin? The article also assumes that Democrats can woo recent immigrants without alienating other groups — a tall task in border states where immigration is a hyper-sensitive issue. Lastly, it references Thomas Schaller, author of “Whistling Past Dixie.” Do Rosenberg and Leyden endorse Schaller’s thesis that Democrats should cede the South? And does that include Virginia?

Rosenberg and Leyden’s three supporting maps are below. The first outlines the Hispanic Belt; the second highlights the Southwestern Strategy; and the third presents “landslide territory.”

UPDATE: I talked with Simon and he clarified some points. He said that Democrats should not cede any part of the country, but it’s possible to win the White House without winning the South. If Dems pick off Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico — the so-called “Hispanic Belt” — then Republicans will have to win states that they haven’t won since 1988.

He added that 1 million immigrants were naturalized in 2006, which is a record, and almost all of them were Hispanic. He also noted that if Hispanic election results from 2006 were plugged into the 2004 elections, John Kerry would have won.

Hispanic Belt

Southwestern Strategy

Landslide

Is Colorado the New Delaware? The New Missouri?

They used to say that so goes Delaware goes the nation. Well, I’ve never heard that exact saying, but the First State voted for the winning presidential candidate from 1952 to 1996.

It was always a swing state because Delaware, despite what Wayne and Garth said, had a little something of everything — a Northeastern-style city (Wilmington), middle-class suburbs and “southern-accented farmers,” according to the Almanac of American Politics. A little bit of Mason, a little bit of Dixon.

When Delaware broke its streak in 2000 when it voted for the Democratic candidate who would go on to loose the Electoral College, Missouri stood alone as the nation’s premier bellwether. The Show-Me State, another border territory, has voted for the winning presidential candidate in every election since 1900 besides 1956.

But in 2008, I’m looking at Colorado. Why? Because what other state is home to a town like Boulder and one like Colorado Springs? Boulder is a outdoor enthusiast haven, a town for college students and organic food. Meanwhile, Colorado Springs is home to Focus on the Family and the Air Force Academy.

In between Boulder and Colorado Springs is Douglas County, which is directly south of Denver. It’s an interesting county because it held the honors of being both the most affluent and the fastest growing county in America in the last decade. It’s also part of Colorado’s Sixth District, which is being vacated by Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo next year.

It’s a very Republican district, and I’m too far removed from The Hotline these days to handicap who has a good shot at winning. But I’m gonna keep an eye on it, if only for the fact that I’m interested in seeing if Colorado will be the next Delaware… or Missouri.

Correction: The original post stated that Columbine High School is in Douglas County.  It is in Jefferson County.

Colorado’s Sixth District