Category Archives: New Hampshire

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.

Washington Post’s “Lowest Common Denominator” Map

WaPo’s Dan Balz has an A1 story today explaining the 2008 electoral map to what one might call casual observers of the race. So the article covers most of the CW — Obama will target new battlegrounds like Virginia and Colorado, McCain has his sights on Michigan, the Midwest is pivotal, and so on… — but Balz also drops a couple of interesting stats that I didn’t know:

“States the Democrats have won in four of the past five elections add up to 255 electoral votes; states Republicans have won in five of the past seven elections (including two Ronald Reagan electoral landslides) account for 269 electoral votes. New Hampshire, New Mexico and West Virginia, representing 14 electoral votes, fall into neither category.”

It’s striking that the GOP has such a high electoral floor.

It’s also interesting that New Hampshire and West Virginia seem be going through these fundamental political transformations. West Virginia was once a lynchpin in the New Deal Democratic coalition, voting for the Democratic presidential candidate in elections from 1920 to 2000 with the exceptions of the GOP landslides of 1954, ’72 and ’84. And the Granite State’s DNA is so Republican that the Legislature was in GOP hands from 1911 to 2004, when the Dems took it over.

Balz also notes that “In 2004, 13 states were decided by seven or fewer percentage points: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.”

One state in that list stuck out for me: New Jersey. Bush lost here by only seven points, which was a smaller margin that he won the supposedly battleground state of Virginia. So the question is: is New Jersey really a swing state (Bush Sr. won here in 1988), or was it a 9/11 anomaly? And more importantly, how much time and money does McCain want to spend here in 2008?

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.

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.” 

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.