Category Archives: Iowa

Electoral Map Daily Compass

The Daily Compass is back!

  • ALASKA: Nate Silver lays out the argument for an Obama trip to Alaska [FiveThirtyEight.com]
  • GEORGIA: InsiderAdvantage has Obama tied with McCain [Southern Political Report]
  • IOWA: McCain and Bush tour the Hawkeye State 60 miles apart [New York Times]
  • IOWA: SurveyUSA says Obama/Webb is the strongest Democratic ticket; McCain/Bloomberg is the best GOP one [Race 4 2008]
  • ELECTORAL MAP: The very real possibility that Obama wins the popular vote and looses the Electoral College [Politico]
  • ELECTORAL MAP: Obama‘s battleground states ad buy includes North Dakota, Montana, Alaska and Indiana but not New Jersey, Oregon and Washington [Politico‘s Ben Smith]
  • ELECTORAL MAP: The McCain camp is contesting 52 Democratic EV’s; the Obama team is going after 148 Republican EV’s [Cogitamus]
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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.

Regional Reporters Lower Expectations

Each state tends to have a marquee political reporter who sets the tone for campaign coverage but also serves as occasional cheerleader for that state’s electoral importance.  Think Des Moines Register‘s David Yespen skewering a candidate for downplaying the caucuses or the New Hampshire Union-Leader‘s John DiStaso defending the Granite State’s treasured first-in-the-nation status.

Even Arkansas NewsJohn Brummett once argued to me that “Arkansas’ six electoral votes were as decisive as Florida” in the 2000 presidential election.

But in the last few days we’ve noticed a couple of reporters getting a little down on their states.  St. Pete’s Times and Florida political sage Adam Smith fretted that the Florida was loosing its place in the political sun.  “It’s time to broach an unspeakable, heretical suggestion in this state,” he wrote on Saturday. “Maybe, just maybe, Democrats can continue snubbing America’s biggest swing state and still march into the White House.”

Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Larry Eichel lowered expectations even further for his state.  “The primary will be important, but not all-important,” he explained. “It will not turn out to be just another contest. But it’s not looking anything like a final confrontation either.”  Eichel went on to crunch the numbers on how the Keystone State accounted for fewer delegates than states that vote on May 6.

Greenville News’ Dan Hoover was a little bit more praiseworthy of his state, noting, “McCain is another in line of Republicans, beginning with Ronald Reagan in 1980, who needed and used South Carolina’s Republican presidential primary as a launching pad to the nomination.”  But Hoover is sure to throw in a disclaimer: “McCain isn’t in the Oval Office yet and may never be.” Thanks for clearing that up; we wouldn’t want to get the wrong impression of South Carolina.

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.

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 CTLocalPolitics.net.

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 (Style.org)

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

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

Does Hillary’s Blue-Collar Success Suggest Red State Appeal?

A MyDD blogger named “silverspring” has a diary up with some of the best maps and electoral map analysis that I’ve seen so far in this election cycle.

In a post titled “Political Geography: Advantage Hillary” from January 12, silverspring presents five electoral maps from New Hampshire and six from Iowa to back up his hypothesis that Hillary Clinton’s success with blue-collar voters in those two states (or with “beer track” voters as the pundits are fond of saying) signals that she can win in red states.

Silverspring argues that in both Iowa and New Hampshire, “’red state’ areas had a relatively high correlation with voting for Hillary Clinton.” In his Granite State analysis, silverspring writes:

“You can see that ‘red’ areas of New Hampshire (those that voted from George Bush in the 2004 general election) tended to go for Hillary in the primary last Tuesday. Out of the 4 counties that voted for Bush in the general, 3 voted for Hillary in the primary. Likewise, the 1st Congressional District voted for Bush in the general and Hillary in the primary; the 2nd Congressional District voted for Kerry in the general and Obama in the primary.”

New Hampshire 2004 General and 2008 PrimaryNew Hampshire 2004 General and 2008 Primary

Silverspring also deduces which towns voted for both Bush and Clinton, and which ones chose Kerry and Obama. He writes:

“Perhaps the most important (politically speaking in terms of our general election prospects) are the towns colored in red. These towns are ones which Bush won in 2004, but which Hillary won in the 2008 primary. These towns comprise approximately 43% of the population of New Hampshire. They include Manchester and its suburbs and most towns in the Merrimack Valley (Londonderry, Derry, Hudson, Salem, etc… as well as Laconia further north in the state). Many towns are historical mill towns; blue coller area where ‘Reagan Democrats’ and ‘Reagan independents’ predominate to this day.”

New Hampshire 2004 General and 2004 Primary by Town
New Hampshire 2004 General and 2008 Primary by Town

Pivoting back to Iowa, silverspring notes that Hillary “actually won rural voters in the state.” He adds, “Unlike New Hampshire, whose ‘rural’ voters are kind of a political anomaly (much like rural voters in neighboring Vermont), rural voters in Iowa are more typical of the country, and in particular of ‘red state’ areas.”

Comparing the 2004 electoral map to the 2008 Democratic primary map, silverspring notices that Obama won the heavily Democratic regions in the East. He adds, “on the other hand, areas in the western, and parts of the northern and southern Iowa, were more evenly split, with a clear advantage for Hillary in some areas, and an advantage for Edwards in others.”

Iowa 2004 General and 2008 Caucuses
Iowa 2004 General and 2008 Caucuses

Iowa 2004 General and 2008 Caucuses by Congressional District
Iowa 2004 General and 2008 Caucuses by Congressional District

Iowa’s Two Halves
Iowa’s Two Halves

I love silversprings’ analysis but I don’t entirely agree with it. Just because Democrats in regions that voted for Bush chose Hillary, it doesn’t mean she has cross-over appeal. In fact, it could mean that those regions are more polarized and the voters rejected Obama’s “post-partisanship” message.

I do agree with silverspring that Hillary is winning the blue-collar vote and Obama is winning the Manhattan Democrats.

Either way, these are awesome maps and I hope to see more.