Category Archives: Connecticut

The Five Places McCain Should Go

Cross-posted at The Next Right.

Politico‘s Charlie Mahtesian and Amie Parnes wrote an article yesterday about the “Five Places Obama Should Go,” and four out of the five areas they identified were places where he struggled against Clinton: Broward County, FL (Jews), Youngstown, OH (blue-collar, gun-owning Catholics), San Antonio (Latinos) and Mingo Couny, WV (“the heart of the anti-Obama belt”). The fifth suggestion — Maricopa County, AZ — was clearly aimed at McCain.

If four out of the five places Obama has to go are aimed at shoring up his base, it means he still has plenty of loose ends to tie up from the primary before he starts trying to win over independents and Republicans.

With that in mind, where are the five places that McCain should go?

This is a tough one, since most of his weaknesses seem to be more personal (age, speaking skills, Bush) rather than geographic. Still, I think visiting areas where Obama is vulnerable and putting him on the defensive would be a smart move — So, how about:

  1. Ohio River Valley Tour — From Pittsburgh to St. Louis — When it comes to the Ohio River Valley, the bad news for the GOP is that the party’s brand is in poor shape in this border region and has been resulting in substantial loses on the congressional level (think PA-04, OH-18, KY-03, IN-08 and IN-09, and the near-miss in OH-02). The good news for the GOP is that Obama is very unpopular here and was pummeled by Hillary in the primaries. In one trip, McCain could hit competitive areas in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Missouri, while also challenging the myth that Kentucky could become competitve and even making a symbolic swing through the Land of Lincoln.
  2. Fairfield County, Conn. — A campaign stop with New York-area Jews and Joe Lieberman would inevitably shine a light on Obama’s comments about Iran and would fan media speculation that the state could become competitive. And Henry Kissinger lives in Kent, an hour up the beautiful Housatonic Valley from Fairfield County — perhaps he could lend an opinion on Obama’s foreign policy?
  3. Northern Suburbs of Milwaukee, Wis. — The suburbs will be key nationwide and Wisconsin is a vital target state for the GOP. The north and west ‘burbs of Milwaukee also “remain overwhelmingly Republican,” notes Democratic pollster Paul Maslin. But “If Obama can crack them to any degree he probably wins the state by several points.” Besides shoring up support with voters, a McCain appearance in the “Beer Capital of the World” would also remind the media that he’s the beer track candidate and Obama is the wine track one. It would also be smart to campaign with fellow Teddy Roosevelt Republican Tommy Thompson.
  4. Grand Rapids — Michigan might be Obama’s most blue vulnerable state and Gerald Ford’s hometown is at the ideological intersection of what Patrick Ruffini once called “the real dividing lines of” the GOP primary — wealthy suburbanites, religious conservatives and Ford-like mainline moderates. A smart sidekick would be Mitt Romney, who beat McCain in Grand Rapids by a 38-31% margin.
  5. Iowa, Early and Often — Iowa might be McCain’s most vulnerable state; he clearly has never built much of an operation here. He needs to visit Iowa… repeatedly.



Could Lieberman Deliver Connecticut to the GOP?

Joe Lieberman (?-CT) has been spending plenty of time with John McCain lately, and now we get word from Ben Smith that’s he hosting conference calls with reporters bashing Barack Obama on Iran.  “Senator Obama argued today that American foreign policy in recent years has essentially sort of strengthened Iran…  and I disagree with that,” said Lieberman.

So assuming that he continues to play a prominent role in the McCain campaign, and possibly is even tapped as a running mate, could Lieberman put Connecticut in play?

I doubt it, but consider some numbers: Chris Healy at The Everyday Republican is trumpeting a Rasmussen Reports poll released on Tuesday that finds Obama taking 47% in the Nutmeg State to McCain’s 44%.  “We have always felt that Sen. McCain’s positions and personal story and long record of being a maverick would play well in our state,” writes Healy. “The numbers indicate that, and they are even more amazing considering how the Democrats have dominated the news for the last two months.”

Politico‘s Jonathan Martin also noted in his March article “Maverick wants to paint blue states red” that McCain has his eyes on the state that has elected two third-party candidate to statewide office in recent years (Lieberman and Lowell Weicker).

The chances are slim for McCain in Connecticut.  But considering all the time he’ll be spending in New Hampshire, isn’t it worth the occasional day trip down the Connecticut River, if only to make things interesting?

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.

McCain Hopes to Turn the Map Purple

Jonathan Martin has a great article up today about how the McCain camp plans to challenge the “red state/blue state paradigm.”  Writing from Exeter, N.H., Martin notes that McCain could shift the Granite State back into the Republican column, and possibly swing Maine and Connecticut – two states with independent heritages – while he’s at it.

Aside from those Northeast states, J-Mart turns to the traditional swing states in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest, which – let’s be honest – are likely to be contested no matter what.  Martin also adds that as a Western senator with moderate immigration views, McCain starts with a strong hand in the purple Mountain West states of Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico.

But I think the most telling part of the article is McCain’s insistence that he can reclaim Ronald Reagan’s California. “I intend to contest all over America, including the state of California,” McCain told reporters. At the very least, McCain could bait Democrats into spending resources in the Golden State. The Bush campaign tried this in 2000, devoting $20 million to Gore’s zero, but still lost by 11 points.

Martin compares McCain’s blueprint to that of his potential Democratic opponents, noting that Barack Obama also hopes to change the maps. “Obama’s camp is touting primary and caucus victories in Colorado, Iowa, Missouri and Virginia,” Martin writes, but he adds that Obama could have a tough time in blue-collar Pennsylvania and Ohio. If it’s Clinton, McCain would target suburbanites who might be thrown off by her polarization. 

But Martin is sure to note that McCain’s vision to turn the electoral map as purple as the Arizona Diamondbacks’ uniforms is built on hypothetical scenarios. “McCain is in a position similar to that of a hopeful baseball team in spring training,” he writes. “There is great potential on paper, but the long season has yet to begin.” 

Politics Online Conference: Cartograms

The Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet is hosting its annual Politics Online Conference on Tuesday and Wednesday, and I’m lucky enough to be speaking on the Political Cartography 2.0 panel on Tuesday at 4:15 p.m. I’m going to be posting some of the elements on my slideshow in the next couple of days and would love to hear your feedback.  I’m separating the slideshow into six categories: the best/worst, D.I.Y. maps, projection maps, Google mashups, cartograms and maps that prove a point.

In second installment of my slideshow, I’m posting a few examples of cartograms.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with cartograms, they’re maps where geographical areas are skewed to fit statistical data.

The example I see the most is the 2004 presidential election. If you look at a nationwide electoral map you’ll see a sea of red, but we know the election was much closer.  A cartogram of the ’04 contest skews the map so that we see large blocks of blue around the metropolitan areas and clumps of hundreds of smaller red shapes in the heartland.

In the first example from this election cycle, a blogger at OpenLeft produced this impressive cartogram of the Democratic primary.  You’ll see that Hillary Clinton won that big blue block on the left coast (that’s L.A.), and a couple of big ones in the East (NYC).  Meanwhile, Barack Obama took Chicago, which is represented by that big green shape in the mid-section of the country.

Cartogram of the Democratic Primary (OpenLeft)

Cartogram of the Democratic Primary

The next cartogram is of the Democratic primary in Connecticut, compliments of

Democratic Primary in Connecticut

Democratic Primary in Connecticut

The third cartogram represents John Kerry‘s win in Iowa in 2004.  Kerry did better in the counties that have a darker shade of blue, including the big block of Des Moines in the middle and the small cities in the East.

John Kerry’s Performance in the 2004 Iowa Caucuses (

John Kerry’s Performance in the 2004 Iowa Caucuses

And the last map is one of my favorites: It’s a cartogram of the electoral clout in Virginia and a great representation that whomever wins Fairfax County usually wins the commonwealth.

Electoral Clout in Virginia

Electoral Clout in Virginia

Politics Online Conference: D.I.Y. Maps

The Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet is hosting its annual Politics Online Conference on Tuesday and Wednesday, and I’m lucky enough to be speaking on the Political Cartography 2.0 panel on Tuesday at 4:15 p.m. I’m going to be posting some of the elements on my slideshow in the next couple of days and would love to hear your feedback. I’m separating the slideshow into six categories: the best/worst, D.I.Y. maps, projection maps, Google mashups, cartograms and maps that prove a point.

In the first installment of my slideshow, I’m going to post a few examples of D.I.Y. maps. I think these are some of the best maps on the Internet, and a great example that individuals with a passion for geography can show up some of the biggest publications in the MSM.

The first example comes from Nick Beaudrot at Nick has been posting some of the best electoral maps that I’ve seen this election cycle. They’re clean, timely and easy to understand. Here’s his one from California: — California Electoral Map — California Electoral Map

The next map comes from It’s clear that whoever runs this site has a passion for electoral maps, and they do a superb job creating maps for Connecticut elections. This maps reflects the 2006 race between Rep. Chris Shays (R) and challenger Dianne Farrell (D).

2006 Connecticut Fourth District

2006 Connecticut Fourth District

The third map is part of a series that I found at OpenLeft. The series is truly impressive and worth a look-see.

Nationwide Democratic Primary

Nationwide Democratic Primary

The fourth map is from, uh, some crappy site called It’s a Fairfax County map of the results of the 2006 Senate election in Virginia between Sen. Jim Webb (D) and then-Sen. George Allen (R).

Virginia Senate Race in Fairfax County

Virginia Senate Race in Fairfax County

And the last map comes to us courtesy of my colleague Howard Mortman and his go-to blog Extreme Mortman. It’s a picture of ABC News’ Jake Tapper drawing his own electoral map on the beach in Florida. Even when he’s on the beach, he can’t stop thinking about electoral maps.

Jake Tapper’s Electoral Map

Jake Tapper’s Electoral Map

The Metroliner Candidate

John McCain takes Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Delaware.

Amtrak’s Metroliner