Category Archives: New Mexico

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.”

Candidates Hope to Redraw the Electoral Map

Which candidate can expand the electoral map: Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama?  Which one can win the red states that failed Al Gore and John Kerry and pull together a winning geographic coalition? 

These are some of the key questions that Democratic voters are asking as the two presidential hopefuls battle in out in primary states like Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Indiana and in the living rooms of superdelegates,.

Both candidates can make a strong case, but their two equations are starkly different.  Clinton looks strong in the Midwest and Appalachia and would likely try to execute and expand on the Democrats’ traditional electoral strategy.  Obama is more likely to attempt to scramble the map and looks well-suited to pick off independents in the mid-Atlantic and Mountain West. 

Obama and Independents in the mid-Atlantic and Mountain West

Obama would likely target independents in the fast-growing counties like Loudoun in Virginia, Wake in North Carolina, Clark in Nevada and Douglas in Colorado.  These are among the fastest-growing areas in the nation and are packed with young professionals who don’t have an allegiance to either party, let alone time to watch “Hardball.” 

 The model for winning these voters comes from Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D), who was the first governor outside of Illinois to endorse Obama. In his 2005 campaign, Kaine targeted and won these independents focusing on issues like roads and schools.  If Obama pushed a similar post-partisan message in these fast-growing exurbs, he could likely win big in these areas.

A series of SurveyUSA polls released last week suggested that Obama would be a strong candidate against John McCain in Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. Independents, upscale liberals and African-American in Virginia and North Carolina would also makes those states key targets, although the Tarheel State would be more of a reach.

Hillary and Blue-Collar Voters in the Midwest and Appalachia

The Clinton camp would probably consider the prospect of Obama winning these states “The biggest fairytale I’ve ever seen,” to borrow Bill’s famous phrase from New Hampshire.  Hillary would probably have more success targeting blue-collar Reagan Democrats in the Midwest, down the Appalachian spine and in traditionally blue Arkansas.

The model for winning these voters is best exemplified in Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D), who was Hillary’s strongest surrogate in the Buckeye State and whose former congressional district in the Ohio River Valley went decidedly to Clinton. Strickland has won over blue-collar Democrats by focusing on traditional economic and bread-and-butter issues.

Hillary’s success in Ohio and rural Missouri (not to mention her perceived strength in Michigan) has demonstrated that she would start from a strong position in those states.  She has also dominated in Appalachian counties from Ohio to Virginia to Tennessee, suggesting that she might be able to bring hardscrabble states like West Virginia back into the Democratic column.

McCain and the Blue Coasts

Of course, both Hillary and Obama’s scenarios for expanding the electoral map assume that all other things are equal. Both equations fail to account that the Republican on the ticket has made a career out of challenging the conventional wisdom and defying political expectations. McCain, for this part, has already promised to run a national campaign. 

He has said on more than one occasion that he is going to target Ronald Reagan’s California, and McCain is a popular brand among independent voters in New Hampshire, Maine and Connecticut.  He’d also likely be strong with Main Street Republicans in the Midwest, Hispanics in the Mountain West and military personnel in the mid-Atlantic – all scenarios that could thwart either Democrat’s vision of redrawing the map.

But one thing is for sure: The electoral map is going to be scrambled this year. Democrats will target states in Dixie, whether it’s Clinton in Arkansas or Obama in Virginia, and McCain will pour money into California, where he’ll be joined at the hip with the Governator.  It’s only been four years since the trench warfare of 2004, but the electoral map is as fluid as it’s ever been.




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.

Electoral Map Daily Compass: Post-Super Bowl, Pre-Super Tuesday Edition

A lot of stuff to cover today.

  • Each of the frontrunning GOP candidates has a primary in his home state tomorrow. [Politico]
  • Romney could win the popular vote in California, but loose the delegate count to McCain [The Barrometer]
  • It’s almost certain that Obama and Hillary will tie California’s delegates. [Trailhead]
  • Hillary gives Patriots fans a kick in the groin. [Massachusetts Liberal]
  • A scenario in which Obama beats Hillary in New York on the way to a sweep. [The Nation]
  • Obama’s red-state barnstorm. [Politics West]
  • Nasty weather nationwide tomorrow. [The Weather Channel]
  • Arizona, Connecticut, California, Massachusetts and Missouri are still tossups in the Dem race. [The Atlantic]
  • Democrats target the Navajo Nation straddling Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. [The Caucus]
  • Polls and analysis for every GOP contest have McCain winning 500+ delegates. [NRO]
  • Mark McKinnon on the difference between Texas and New York… from Grand Central Station. [The Page]

It’s “Prediction Time” at National Review Online

The National Review Online team had some fun on Tuesday predicting what the electoral map will look like one year from today.  Here are some highlights:

  • NRO staff writer David Fredoso: “Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) will lose the presidency to Sen. Hillary Clinton (D).  Clinton will win a 48-percent plurality…. [She] will win by two points, and the remaining six points will go to a third-party populist anti-war candidate who will score double digits in some New England states. Hillary will take 291 electoral votes, losing New Hampshire and Florida but winning Ohio, Iowa, New Mexico and Missouri.”
  • NRO blogger Jim Geraghty: “The Hillary Clinton-Anthony Zinni ticket defeated the Rudy Giuliani-Fred Thompson ticket, 272 electoral votes to 266.  The only state that shifted from 2004 was Ohio…. Aside from the Buckeye State, the GOP ticket came within three percentage points of Connecticut, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington.”
  • Talk-show host Michael Graham: “When a divided Supreme Court paves the way for a Clinton/Clinton ticket in the summer of ’08… the GOP counters by nominating Giuliani/Schwarzenegger…. The Buchanan/Paul campaign strips away [votes on the Right], while on the Left, the Kucinich/Shaheen ticket promises that, if elected, it will promptly impeach itself…. Final score: Giuliani wins just 33 percent of the popular vote and 271 electoral votes.

Does that last one seem a little ridiculous to you?  Check out some of their other expert opinions.

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