Category Archives: West

Ambinder: Obama Must Win the West to Win the White House

On the heels of Barack Obama‘s tour through the West, Marc Ambinder declares that the Illinois senator is going to have to spend a lot more time in the region if he’s hopes to reach the White House:

“The ONLY way, given the electoral college map that Obama is presented with, he can win the presidency if he loses Ohio or Pennsylvania by winning the West — by winning at least four of these states: New Mexico, Colorado, Oregon, Nevada and Washington. He cannot afford NOT to fight for the West. If he doesn’t fight for the West, he loses.”

The good news for Obama is that he can chalk up the electoral votes of Oregon and Washington.  He ran very strongly in those two states, as first below map shows, and is still polling very well there, as Karl Rove‘s map displays.  One reason for his success in the Pacific Northwest in the primaries is that he is received over 60% of the white male vote, which was one of his worst demographic groups back East and is sure to be a key swing vote come November (Jay Cost has a great graph I posted below).

As for the other three states: New Mexico certainly seems within reach if not only for the state of the GOP; Nevada remains a big question mark with its off-the-wall growth; and Colorado, the only place in America that is home to both the extremes of Boulder’s vegetarian environmentalists and Colorado Spring’s Focus on the Family disciples, is certain to be a major battleground.

Obama vs. Clinton Electoral Map — Pre-OR, WV and KY; Obama is blue and Clinton is red

Obama vs Clinton Electoral Map

Karl Rove & Co.’s Electoral Map

Rove\'s McCain Obama Electoral Map

Obama’s Performance with Select Demographic Groups

Obama\'s White Males Support


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:

Look West, Young Scribes

Both Ben Smith and Chris Cillizza turned their backs to the East today — Smith wrote a quick note about the DNC’s memo about “McCain’s Problems in the West” and Cillizza wrote a post handicapping the Democratic primary in Montana. Both reporters anticipate that the region will be in play. “Except for Utah, those ‘cactus caucus’ state could be hotly contested this fall, taking on Ohio- or Florida-like status in campaign coverage,” Smith suggested.

But Cillizza also sees Montana as a potential Tier I battleground in the Democratic primary in June. “It’s clear that Obama must be considered a favorite in the state given the population hub of Missoula and his on the ground efforts throughout the state,” Cillizza writes. “But it would be a mistake to write Clinton off, as Montana’s primary is not Idaho’s caucuses (or Wyoming’s, or Colorado’s) and she has several pockets of obvious support in the state.”

One thing is for sure, the press corps is sure lucky to have the opportunity to go to Montana in June. Just don’t forget that rules of Big Sky County: “In Montana there’s three things we’re never late for: church, work and fishing.”

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.




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.” 

SurveyUSA Releases Polls in 50 States

SurveyUSA released a series of polls in all 50 states on Thursday that measure both John McCain against Hillary Clinton and McCain against Barack Obama. The results should be taken with a grain of salt considering SurveyUSA uses robocalls instead of live people, but the results are still fascinating.

The key takeaway is that either Dem would beat McCain. But the results also show that the electoral map is going to be scrambled this year, with McCain making potential inroads into traditionally blue states in the Northeast, and either Obama turning the Mountain West into the massive battleground or Hillary picking off a couple of the key states that slayed Al Gore and John Kerry.

If Obama is the Democratic nominee, the SurveyUSA polls suggest that he’d put into play states that Dem strategists have lustily watched turn purple. The polls show Virginia and North Carolina within reach, and Obama winning Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico. (The polls also have him competing in Texas and Florida, which I’m going to dismiss as aberrations for now.)

But Obama would have to watch his back in the Northeast. The polls suggest that New Jersey, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Michigan would be ripe targets from McCain. The Arizona senator would have rock solid support in SEC Country, which could free him from having to worry about a least one faction of the GOP coalition eroding.

If Hillary is the Democratic nominee, the polls indicate that she would probably win Arkansas and Florida, both states where the Clinton brand remains popular. But Clinton would loose several key states, including Iowa, and she would be decimated in the West. The SurveryUSA polls have her loosing every Mountain West state as well as Washington and Oregon.

Ezra sums up it very well:

“Obama’s electoral coalition is Western, while Clinton relies more on the Midwest. He’s Sun Belt, she’s Rust Belt. Moreover, many states have them performing wildly different from one another.”

Nicholas Beaudrot, at the go-to Cogitmausblog, takes is a step further and produced a map detailing the states where Obama and Clinton perform well relative to each other (Map 5). He found that Obama would do much better than HRC in Vermont, Nebraska and Utah, while Hillary would have a better showing than Obama in Arkansas and West Virginia.

Beaudrot also makes a great point about the coattail effect:

“In the states with the ten most competitive Senate races, Obama does better than Clinton in eight of them; only Kentucky and Louisiana are better for Clinton (and, seriously, if Mary Landrieu can’t win 25% of the white vote in Louisiana, she’s got bigger problems). There’s also the third tier of Senate races, in places like North Carolina, Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota (that’s a defense), Texas, and Idaho, where Obama does better in four of five and ties Clinton in the fifth. Should Rick Noriega or Scott Kleeb catch lightning in a bottle, it would be better to have Obama at the top of the ticket. Put Tom Daschle or Ed Rendell as VP and he’ll be unstoppable.”

And Kos sums up those sentiments this way (which I agree with):

“It’s clear that in those states (and many others like it), Obama will be a dramatic help at the top of the ticket versus Clinton, who will play the traditional role of top-of-the-ticket albatross.”

(Map 1) SurveyUSA: John McCain vs. Hillary Clinton

John McCain vs. Hillary Clinton

(Map 2) SurveyUSA: John McCain vs. Barack Obama

John McCain vs. Barack Obama

(Map 3) CogitamusBlog: John McCain vs. Hillary Clinton

John McCain vs. Hillary Clinton

(Map 4) CogitamusBlog: John McCain vs. Barack Obama

John McCain vs. Barack Obama

(Map 5) CogitamusBlog: Clinton Vs. Obama Realtive Strength

Clinton Vs. Obama Realtive Strength

Electoral Map Daily Compass: Beers and Brats Edition

Rocky Mountain Way

  • Barry Goldwater’s state is trending blue. [Reid Wilson]
  • McCain has a strong hand in the Rocky Mountain West. [Washington Post]

Here in Youngstown

Applebee’s America

Caucus Mountains

  • Obama piled up delegates by winning small states with caucuses. [National Journal]