Category Archives: Primary States

Super Tuesday Rundown: Northeastern and Midwestern States

Cross-posted at the Huffington Post.

And check out my rundown of Southern states here.

For the first time in modern American political history, there will be a nationwide primary on Tuesday, February 5. Many of 23 states that moved their primaries to earlier dates did so with the hopes of getting the kind of attention that the candidates and national media give to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Those states got their wish, and each of their proud traditions and strange customs will be cast on the national stage on Tuesday.

As part of a three installment series, here’s a look at two regions that will be contested on Super Tuesday – the Northeast and the Midwest – and how each candidate can expect to perform in each state.

Democrats in the Northeast (Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York)

One of the most inaccurate descriptions of Hillary Clinton’s relationship with New York is that it’s is her “home turf.” Hillary launched her Senate bid from New York in part because a seat was being vacated, but more importantly because New York has always cast itself as the center of the nation. It’s the Empire State, the Big Apple and the Capital of the World. And so the state fit for Clinton, who was already a national figure.

By most reports, she’s done a good job of cultivating constituent relationships and building a strong statewide organization. On Super Tuesday, she’ll probably run well with Democrats in Upstate cities, who have tasted the bacon that she has brought home. She’ll also rack up big margins in the suburban counties surrounding the City, which are full of rooted New Yorkers who see her as more of a senator from their state than a national figure with a New York base.

But New York City is a different story. The City is the blending of America and is so saturated with media that primary voters are less likely to be loyal to Hillary and more likely to be tuned in to the details and rhythms of the campaign as a whole. It also won’t hurt Barack Obama that the city is heavily African-American. Obama might be wise to hold a rally in Madison Square Garden. If he can pack the University of South Carolina stadium, surely he can electrify MSG. Look for Obama to rack up millions of votes in the City and take nearly 40 percent there on his way to claiming about a third of New York’s 232 delegates.

On the other end of the Lincoln Tunnel, New Jersey will probably break decisively to Hillary. This is the state of the Carmello Soprano voter: white, upper middle-class, suburban moms. This demographic group is the backbone of Mark Penn’s strategy. And don’t forget that Carm once praised Hillary, telling Rosalie Aprile, “She stood by him and put up with the bullshit, and in the end, what did she do? She set up her own little thing.” Hillary should also do well with Hispanics in the inner suburbs, if only for the reason that these inner towns are fiercely loyal to everything New York.

On the other side of New York’s orbit, Connecticut will be a closer race. In the 2006 Democratic primary for Connecticut’s U.S. Senate seat, a Starbucks v. Dunkin Donuts dynamic emerged. Supporters of incumbent Joe Lieberman tended to be blue collar Democrats from places like the Naugatuck Valley who drank Dunkin Donuts coffee. Challenger Ned Lamont drew from wealthier Democrats on the Gold Coast who commuted to Manhattan and sipped Starbucks. It’s a very similar breakdown from what happened between Hillary and Obama in New Hampshire, and is likely to repeat itself on Super Tuesday.

Up in Massachusetts, if voters aren’t too hung over from Super Bowl celebrations or depressions, depending on the outcome, Super Tuesday will be a very close battle. Polls have Clinton leading by double-digits, but Obama has the endorsements of the Bay State’s governor and two U.S. senators. The state is also packed to the gills with the kind of people who usually support Obama: white, educated liberals. Clinton will probably win, but expect Obama to do surprisingly well.

Republicans in the Northeast (Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York)

If Rudy Giuliani had ever faced Hillary in the 2000 Senate race, he probably would have lost the City. But make no mistake: the Big Apple is Rudy territory. This Brooklyn-born Italian-American rose through the ranks in the five boroughs to become the boss of the City and hero of local Republicans. If he had stayed in the 2008 presidential campaign, Rudy probably would have racked up huge margins on Staten Island and Long Island, and won most of Upstate.

John McCain might have picked off enough traditional Nelson Rockefeller Republicans to cut into Rudy’s margins in Westchester and surrounding burbs. But Rudy would have won the state and taken its 101 delegates in this winner take all contest. With Rudy out of the race, New York should be smooth sailing for McCain. Mitt Romney may have a decent shot Upstate if conservatives seek out an alternative, and a scenario is likely where Romney sweeps Upstate but McCain dominates everywhere south of the Catskills.

In New Jersey and Connecticut, McCain is likely to complete his sweep of the tri-state area. McCain was always positioned to do fairly well in these two states, which are home to the many suburban moderate Republicans like Rep. Chris Shays (CT-04). But these two states would have been competitive. Rudy would certainly have benefited from his high name recognition and moderate policies.

Many Republicans in the inner-burbs, especially in New Jersey, will always idolize America’s mayor for his handling of 9/11. There is nothing more iconic to many of these inner-suburban ethnic Republicans than Rudy throwing the first pitch at a Yankees game, wearing a FDNY hat with an American flag on the side. It’s not clear where these voters will go, but they’ll likely chose McCain, based solely on the fact that he’s a war hero.

Mitt Romney, for his part, will likely miss a huge opportunity in the tri-state region. Suburban Republicans in Summit County, N.J. and Fairfield County, Conn. once loved the idea of Romney: a CEO who promised results and success, had a stellar resume, looked good and talked authoritatively. But that’s all in past. As Romney became increasingly tangled in battles in the Heartland to prove his conservative purity, he stiffened up and took a defensive posture, which was off-settling for some people. He also advocated some positions that made many of his suburban supporters think twice.

Romney will likely concede the entire tri-state region and its 183 delegates and win Massachusetts’ 41 delegates without breaking a sweat. Any Republican primary voters in this region who wanted some visits from the candidates, maybe a little an appearance at a post-Super Bowl celebration in Boston in New York, will likely not get any. The Northeast will be radio silent. It’s a stunning fact considering there are three moderate Republicans who once lead the polls, two of which were from the region.

Midwest for Democrats (Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri and North Dakota)

The Super Tuesday states in the region know as the “the Midwest” should really be divided into two different subsets. The first is the breadbasket states of Kansas, North Dakota and Minnesota. And the second group is Illinois and Missouri, which are distinctly Midwestern in the sense that they fall on the fault line between the Rust Belt and Dixie. Those two states are also home to the Cubs and Cardinals, and what is more Midwestern than a series between those two franchises?

Obama is a White Sox fan, which is heresy in many quarters of Illinois, but he’s still wildly popular with state Democrats and has a stronger bond with the base than Hillary does in New York. Obama will sweep the Chicago area, which accounts over half of the state’s Democratic primary voters, from the old Comiskey on the South Side to Wrigley on the North Side. But Chicago is also Hillary’s place of birth, and while it probably won’t count for much, she may find some voters in the suburbs and pull together 20 to 25 percent statewide.

It’ll also be interesting to see how Obama performs downstate, which Salon’s Edward McClelland has noted has a “history of working out racial questions for the rest of the country.” The region produced the two men most responsible for ending slavery in Abraham Lincoln and U. S. Grant. But one hundred years after the Civil War, racial strife tore apart the town of Cairo, and in 2004, Obama ran second in the Democratic primary downstate.

Across the mighty Mississippi from Cairo is Missouri, another state that has always been stuck between North and South. The northern part of the state was settled by Virginians and is known as Little Dixie. John Edwards might have found support here, but with the former North Carolina senator out of the race, Hillary has a distinct advantage. Obama will be buoyed by support in St. Louis and Kansas City, and he’ll do well with the Democrats and independents who listen to Sen. Claire McCaskill’s argument that he has purple-state appeal. An Obama victory is a long shot, but he could end up taking nearly half the state’s 72 delegates.

Minnesota will also award 72 delegates, but will do so in complicated caucus system that should favor Obama’s superior ground game. Obama’s style of campaigning will also probably play well in this state that is proud of its tradition of being “Minnesota nice” and often rewards candidates who run sunny campaigns. Edwards could have had an opening here, as Minnesota’s Democrat-Farmer-Labor Party has been known to be kind to populist candidates.

On Minnesota’s western border is the town of Fargo, N.D., where Democratic voters will also be caucusing. National Geographic recently described North Dakota as an “empty prairie… littered with dead towns.” With only13 delegates, it’s anybody’s guess who will win. Another state with few Democrats that appears to be up for grabs in Kansas. But with most leading Kansas Democrats endorsing Obama, the Illinois senator might have the upper hand. It also won’t hurt that is mom is from Kansas.

Republicans in the Midwest (Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri and North Dakota)

It’s unclear who is leading the contest for North Dakota’s 25 delegates in the Republican race. Romney won a straw poll, but the state is also home to many older and more mainline Republicans who may support McCain. Neighboring Minnesota and its 40 delegates will be the focus of much more time and attention. McCain is the heavy favorite in Minnesota and Gov. Tim Pawlenty has been singing his praises there from the very beginning.

But the state also has a very vocal and active pro-life community, and Mike Huckabee could do surprisingly well. It’ll be interesting to see how Romney stacks up against McCain in the suburbs of Minneapolis-St. Paul, which are the fastest-growing areas in the state and are home to many of the new Republicans who are changing the electorate of this once heavily Democratic state.

Romney has a better shot in Missouri, er, “Missour-ah” to use local GOP dialect. The state will live up to its reputation as a fierce battleground and many of the rifts in the state GOP that were apparent during the 2006 battle over a stem-cell ballot initiative will be exposed. Moderates such as former Sen. John Danforth, who is backing McCain, supported the initiative. But many conservatives staunchly opposed it. Former Sen. Jim Talent, who could never really articulate a clear position on the issue, is a Romney ally, as is the Blunt family. If the “Rally to Romney” movement takes hold in here, he could edge McCain and take Missouri’s 58 delegates in this winner take-all contest. A repeat of Florida, where Huckabee stripped Romney of significant conservatives support, could happen.

Romney also needs to have a strong showing in Illinois, which awards 70 delegates by district. McCain is the favorite here, but former Speaker Dennis Hastert is doing all he can to knock down the maverick senator whom he has derided as an “unreliable” vote for the GOP. McCain is likely to take Chicago and the burbs, but it’ll be interesting to see who wins downstate. The southern part of the state might as well be in Dixie, which is also hosting a slew of elections on Super Tuesday.



Electoral Map Daily Compass: “There Will be Brooms” Edition

Earlier this week, I expected the anti-John McCain factions in the GOP to make one last push. Call it a Battle of the Bulge-type offensive, to use a really bad analogy. Rush Limbaugh was supposed to turn up the heat, Citizens United was reported to be launching an anti-McCain ad buy and Human Events was said to be dropping the dossier on McCain’s checkered history with the party.

But what did we get? The only thing that made real waves was Ann Coulter’s pledge to support Hillary Clinton if McCain is nominated. It was a great item to get Coulter in the news for a day, but hardly enough to derail McCain.

So here we are: three days before Super Tuesday, and it’s beginning to increasingly look like McCain might sweep. Don’t believe there will be brooms on Tuesday? Check out the links below. McCain will take California and the Tri-State area, and according to NRO could edge Mike Huckabee in the South.

Google Earth’s Electoral College [Google Earth]

Google Earth’s Electoral College

Google Earth’s Electoral College Battleground States [Google Earth]

Google Earth’s Electoral College Battleground States

Florida Electoral Map: McCain Swamps Romney in Miami; Hillary Wins Beauty Contest

John McCain beat Mitt Romney by eight points in Pinellas County and six points in Pasco County on his way to a statewide victory Tuesday. McCain’s wins in those two counties, which many analysts suggested would be a barometer of his overall success, pretty much mirrored his 36-31% win over Romney statewide (Map 2).

McCain won 45 of Florida’s 67 counties, which is a well-balanced rout. But more importantly, he posted victories in three crucial areas: He did well in the military-laden Panhandle, where he tied Mike Huckabee for Evangelicals. He also won most of the I-4 Corridor, including big victories in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties.

But McCain dominated in Southeast Florida. He won Palm Beach County by 9,000 votes, Broward County by nearly 17,000 and Miami-Dade by a whoppin’ 35,000 (Map 3). According to CBS News exit polls reported by Politicos Jonathan Martin, McCain was buoyed by strong support in the Latino community, which cast half of its votes for him (Map 4).

Romney ran poorly with Latinos, although he did win 40 percent of conservatives and over a third of Evangelicals, which was the most of any candidate for both demographic groups. Romney also ran well in the retirement communities along the Gulf Coast, including Lee and Collier Counties. He swamped McCain by 12,000 votes in Duval County (Jacksonville), which I have to admit I don’t really understand (Map 5).

Rudy Giuliani won over a quarter of the vote and finished second in New York’s southern outpost of Miami-Dade, but it was not enough to push him above 15 percent statewide (Map 6). Interestingly, Mike Huckabee won four counties – Holmes, Washington, Gilchrest and Suwanee – but they were small, rural counties in the North, and the former Arkansas governor came in fourth (Map 7).

Map 1 – Florida Population Density

Florida Population Density

Map 2 – Florida Republican Electoral Map (Washington Post)

Florida Republican Electoral Map

Map 3 – John McCain in Florida (Washington Post)

John McCain in Florida

Map 4 – Latinos in Florida — The more purple counties have higher percentages of Latinos.

Latinos in Florida

Map 5 – Mitt Romney in Florida (Washington Post)

Mitt Romney in Florida

Map 6 – Rudy Giuliani in Florida (Washington Post)

Rudy Giuliani in Florida

Map 7 – Mike Huckabee in Florida (Washington Post)

Mike Huckabee in Florida

Map 8 – Republican Margins of Victory in Florida (New York Times) — Note that the colors are different.

Republican Margins of Victory in Florida

On the Democratic side, the Billary machine celebrated a 50-33% win over Barack Obama even though the delegates will likely not be seated at the DNC convention. Clinton took 48 of Florida’s 67 counties, including every one south of Gainesville. Obama racked up big margins in heavily African-American counties like Duval and Leon, the home to FAMU (Maps 9-11).

John Edwards won a respectable 11 counties and placed second in 15. But as a testament to how rural those counties are, he ended up only taking 14 percent statewide, and was prompted to drop of the race Wednesday morning (Map12).

My theory on Edwards is that his departure helps Obama in states like California, where voters on tuned in the race and understand Edwards “progressive” ideas. But it hurts Obama in rural states like Georgia and Missouri, where white many voters still see Edwards as the down-home Southern candidate, and are not likely to support Obama.

Map 9 – Florida Democratic Electoral Map (Washington Post)

Florida Democratic Electoral Map

Map 10 – Hillary Clinton in Florida (Washington Post)

Hillary Clinton in Florida

Map 11 – Barack Obama in Florida (Washington Post)

Barack Obama in Florida

Map 12 – John Edwards in Florida (Washington Post)

John Edwards in Florida

Map 13 – Democratic Margins of Victory in Florida (New York Times)

Democratic Margins of Victory in Florida


Florida Primer: Who Will the Sun Shine on Today?

When I flew down to Jacksonville in late October, 2007 for the Florida-Georgia game (affectionately known as the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party), I observed a not only a great football game, but many of the different demographic groups that make up Florida at work.

Jacksonville is the Deep South, and so is the panhandle to the west. Orlando and the I-4 Corridor are what National Geographic described in its March, 2007 issue as the “Theme-Parking, Megachurching, Franchising, Exurban, McMansioning of America” (Map 7).

Orlando is also where a few of my politically astute friends noted that the Florida Democrats were meeting for a conference that weekend. Many of those Dems are from Southeast Florida, which is pretty much a reflection of the Northeast United States.

Of course, these are crude definitions for a complex state. But one of the reasons Florida is so difficult to handicap is because it is constantly growing and evolving. The Sunshine State had five congressional districts 60 years ago, but after the 2010 reapportionment it will have 27, the same amount as the once-mighty Empire State. Joel Kotkin’s “Boomtown” feature in Inc. magazine named six of the nation’s top 20 boomtowns in the Sunshine State.

Many demographers have tried to figure Florida out, some condensing the state into two distinctive regions and others carving it up in dozens of fiefdoms. Most recently, the Washington Post in its Political Geography feature identified the Panhandle, the I-4 Corridor and the South Florida as the key targeted regions for the Republican candidates (Maps 1-3).

The Panhandle, the Post said, is full of Evangelicals suited for Mike Huckabee, and military retirees who John McCain could appeal to. The I-4 Corridor “from Daytona to Tampa” is “rich with Republican voters and remains a tossup.” South Florida, with its many New York castoffs, should be Rudy territory.

Some demographers have been blunter in describing Florida. Joel Garreau, in his landmark 1981 book “The Nine Nations of North America” divided Florida into “Dixie” and “The Islands.” Dixie is under Atlanta’s influence; and the Islands region extends across the Caribbean but is anchored in Miami (Map 4).

Another attempt was printed in the Boston Globe in 2004 and divided the state into three regions: “Southern Comfort,” which hugs the Gulf Coast and extends into Texas; “Southern Lowlands,” which touches the Atlantic Coast and reaches up past the Carolina low country; and “El Norte,” which is an extension of Latin America (Map 5).

Other political analysts have dismissed those previous models because they don’t take into account the millions of Northern transplants. NBC Political Director Chuck Todd wrote in June, 2007 that when you factor in Northern expats, Florida is a “perfect microcosm of the United States.”

“Think about it: the Southeast of the state mirrors the Northeast of the country; the Southwest of the state has a solid Midwestern feel; the Central part of the state is akin to the exurbs and Southwestern growth parts of the country; of course the Panhandle is the Deep South; and Key West is like San Francisco. A perfect microcosm.”

The New York Times took it a step further and divided Florida into a checkerboard of the “United States of Florida.” Every state, the Times joked, has an outpost in Florida (Map 6).


Map 1 — The Panhandle (Washington Post)

The Panhandle

Map 2 — I-4 Corridor (Washington Post)

I-4 Corridor

Map 3 — South Florida (Washington Post)

South Florida

Map 4 — Joel Garreau’s Nine Nations of North America

Joel Garreau’s Nine Nations of North America

Map 5 — Ten Regions of American Politics

Ten Regions of American Politics

Map 6 — United States of Florida (New York Times)

United States of Florida

Map 7 — The Boomtown of Orlando (National Geographic)

The Boomtown of Orlando

Electoral Map Daily Compass: Rudy in Florida Edition

Readers — My apologies for not posting more often this week. I’m going to have an item up each [week]day from here on out. To gets things started off on the right foot, here’s the Electoral Map’s Daily Compass for today.

The big questions this week: Will the sun shine on Rudy Giuliani next Tuesday? And has Barack Obama built a winning coalition in South Carolina?

  • Carl Leubsdorf analyzes Rudy’s big gamble: “The former mayor’s support has begun to drop in his supposed coastal strongholds.”
  • And Campaigns & Elections asks, “Can Giuliani Re-Draw the Map?”
  • Mort Kondracke examines the GOP Suburban Caucus, reppin’ “from San Diego to Connecticut.”
  • Kurtz anticipates the Super Tuesday battle for “New York and California and all the super duper states in between.”
  • Ex-Hotliners Reid Wilson and Kyle Trygstad interview John Ensign about the Senate electoral map.
  • E.J. Kalafarski and Chadwick Matlin at Map the Candidates have Dems hitting the Palmetto State and GOPers soaking up the Sunshine State.
  • Ambinder looks at Obama’s demograhpics: “Obama’s South Carolina coalition bodes well for him in other Southern states, such as Alabama and Georgia, where wave after wave of white working-class voters have deserted the Democratic Party. But in the largest states voting on Tsunami Tuesday, February 5, (California, New Jersey, and New York) and in later-voting large states (Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas), the party’s changing demographics work against Obama.” (subscription required)
  • Jonathan Martin reports that Huck wants to “build a massive highway from Bangor, Maine, to Miami.”
  • Condé Nast Portfolio presents the map of union membership in the United States. Notice how it mirrors the traditional electoral map. What came first the chicken or the egg?

Union Membership by State, 2007
Union Membership in the United States

The Presidential Electoral Map, 2004
2004 Electoral Map

Testing Patrick Ruffini’s Model in Grand Rapids

Patrick Ruffini sees the leading GOP candidates carrying the banner for three distinct camps in the Republican Party.

“Despite the different actors and alliances in different states, we are beginning to see the real dividing lines of this campaign. It’s the battle of the moderates (McCain), metro conservatives (Romney), and rural conservatives (Huckabee). Stripped of all other hangers-on (Fred, and increasingly, Rudy), nationwide this divide seems to work out to about 40-40-20, or 35-40-25. Conservatives ought to be winning this battle, but Huckabee’s lock on the rural vote (just 16% of the vote in Charleston County, btw) will prevent any kind of clear two-man race before February 5th. Every day that Huckabee’s nice guy act is allowed to continue is a gift to John McCain — and he knows it.

“Mitt Romney is fast becoming the candidate of conservatives in the suburbs and the exurbs. In Michigan, he dominated Oakland and Macomb counties with 46% of the vote in a multi-candidate field. In Nevada, he won most convincingly in Clark County. In Iowa, he did better in Des Moines than elsewhere in the state.

“The Romney and McCain coalitions also overlap. They represent two different sides of the establishment coin, with McCain representing an older, mainline establishment — the Republican Party of Gerry Ford, Howard Baker, and Bob Dole — and Romney representing the brasher, post-Reagan establishment that was built on the tax issue and whose alliance with modern-day Huckabee voters allowed them to take control of the party in 1994.”

I agree with Ruffini’s analysis of Romney — Most of the Republicans I know from Montgomery County, Md. or Fairfield County, Ct. are supporting him. I also think he hits the nail on the head for Huckabee — He clearly is a favorite among rural, religious voters. But McCain is a more difficult candidate to figure out. He’s done well in the suburban counties like Charleston, S.C. but also in areas where the religious Right has a strong presence like western Michigan.

The most interesting county nationwide may have been Kent County, Mich., home of Grand Rapids. As Gerald Ford’s hometown, it’s where his presidential library and Gerald Ford International Airport are located. Ford’s legacy is still strong in Grand Rapids, so by Ruffini’s analysis, McCain should have had an upper hand there. But Grand Rapids is also a very religious and culturally conservative county and has a very strong Dutch Reformed Church presence. Many pundits thought this fact would play well for Huckabee.

But it was Romney, and not McCain or Huckabee, who won Grand Rapids. Romney took 38% to McCain’s 31%. It’s a suburban county, so Ruffini’s analysis works, but the county has enough demographics cutting different ways to make it interesting.

Republican Primary in Grand Rapids



Nevada Electoral Map

I’ll be up with more maps later today, but in the meantime, the Washington Post has the best Nevada electoral map.

Barack Obama won 11 counties but Hillary Clinton took six of the more populous counties, including Las Vegas’ Clark County. Edwards’ paltry four percent didn’t earn him one county.

Nevada Democratic Electoral Map
Nevada Democratic Electoral Map

And check this out: Amid Mitt Romney‘s 16 county thumpin’ was one Nye County that chose Ron Paul.

Nevada Republican Electoral Map

Nevada Republican Electoral Map