Category Archives: Wisconsin

The Five Places McCain Should Go

Cross-posted at The Next Right.

Politico‘s Charlie Mahtesian and Amie Parnes wrote an article yesterday about the “Five Places Obama Should Go,” and four out of the five areas they identified were places where he struggled against Clinton: Broward County, FL (Jews), Youngstown, OH (blue-collar, gun-owning Catholics), San Antonio (Latinos) and Mingo Couny, WV (“the heart of the anti-Obama belt”). The fifth suggestion — Maricopa County, AZ — was clearly aimed at McCain.

If four out of the five places Obama has to go are aimed at shoring up his base, it means he still has plenty of loose ends to tie up from the primary before he starts trying to win over independents and Republicans.

With that in mind, where are the five places that McCain should go?

This is a tough one, since most of his weaknesses seem to be more personal (age, speaking skills, Bush) rather than geographic. Still, I think visiting areas where Obama is vulnerable and putting him on the defensive would be a smart move — So, how about:

  1. Ohio River Valley Tour — From Pittsburgh to St. Louis — When it comes to the Ohio River Valley, the bad news for the GOP is that the party’s brand is in poor shape in this border region and has been resulting in substantial loses on the congressional level (think PA-04, OH-18, KY-03, IN-08 and IN-09, and the near-miss in OH-02). The good news for the GOP is that Obama is very unpopular here and was pummeled by Hillary in the primaries. In one trip, McCain could hit competitive areas in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Missouri, while also challenging the myth that Kentucky could become competitve and even making a symbolic swing through the Land of Lincoln.
  2. Fairfield County, Conn. — A campaign stop with New York-area Jews and Joe Lieberman would inevitably shine a light on Obama’s comments about Iran and would fan media speculation that the state could become competitive. And Henry Kissinger lives in Kent, an hour up the beautiful Housatonic Valley from Fairfield County — perhaps he could lend an opinion on Obama’s foreign policy?
  3. Northern Suburbs of Milwaukee, Wis. — The suburbs will be key nationwide and Wisconsin is a vital target state for the GOP. The north and west ‘burbs of Milwaukee also “remain overwhelmingly Republican,” notes Democratic pollster Paul Maslin. But “If Obama can crack them to any degree he probably wins the state by several points.” Besides shoring up support with voters, a McCain appearance in the “Beer Capital of the World” would also remind the media that he’s the beer track candidate and Obama is the wine track one. It would also be smart to campaign with fellow Teddy Roosevelt Republican Tommy Thompson.
  4. Grand Rapids — Michigan might be Obama’s most blue vulnerable state and Gerald Ford’s hometown is at the ideological intersection of what Patrick Ruffini once called “the real dividing lines of” the GOP primary — wealthy suburbanites, religious conservatives and Ford-like mainline moderates. A smart sidekick would be Mitt Romney, who beat McCain in Grand Rapids by a 38-31% margin.
  5. Iowa, Early and Often — Iowa might be McCain’s most vulnerable state; he clearly has never built much of an operation here. He needs to visit Iowa… repeatedly.

Thoughts?

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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.

It’s Pronouned “Mill-e-wah-kEY”

Jay O’Callaghan, who runs the interesting and informative Yahoo! group ElectionWatcher2008, points us to these two fascinating Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel electoral maps:

According to the Journal-Sentinel:

  • Barack Obama won 12 of Milwaukee’s 15 aldermanic districts.
  • Obama “had a strong showing” in predominantly African-American districts.
  • Obama and Hillary Clinton split the 8th and 12th Districts, “which have sizable Hispanic populations.”
  • Clinton received over 55% in the “mostly white blue-collar” 11th and 13th.

Milwaukee Democratic Electoral Map

Milwaukee Democratic Electoral Map

On the Republicans, the Journal-Sentinel noted:

  • John McCain won 13 of the 15 aldermanic districts.
  • McCain’s biggest win came in the 4th.

Milwaukee Republican Electoral Map

Milwaukee Republican Electoral Map

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]

Wisconsin Electoral Map

Thanks to American Airlines and a unexpected overnight stay at O’Hare, I haven’t had a chance to deeply delve into the Badger State results.  But one thing struck me as particularly noteworthy: Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton by nearly 60,000 votes (!) in Milwaukee, a town that is about as blue-collar and beer-swigging as there is.  And isn’t Hillary supposed to have the inside track with the beer drinkers?

Wisconsin Democratic Electoral Map (New York Times)

Wisconsin Democratic Electoral Map

Wisconsin Democratic Electoral Map (Cogitamus; note that the colors are inverse)

Wisconsin Democratic Electoral Map

Electoral Map Daily Compass: Nearing Tipping Point Edition

First things first. If you love political geography, you’ll love this article by Joel Kotkin in the Politico on Tuesday: Has Cali’s political sway fizzled?

Now, on to the rest of today’s Electoral Map news:

Potomac Primary Fallout

  • Virginia will be in play this fall. [Washington Post]
  • Obama won counties in Virginia as white as a Word document. [Talk Left]
  • J-Mart on Obama dominating the Crescent. [Politico]
  • It really was Hillary’s back yard. [Howard Kurtz]

Where Hillary Goes From Here

  • “We didn’t put any resources in those small states.” [New York Observer]
  • Penn charts the roadmap to nomination. And, yes, it goes through Ohio and Texas. [Real Clear Politics]
  • Hillary will Badger the Wisconsin voters after all. [The Page]
  • Clinton camp adopts the Rudy strategy. [Politico]

Western Promises

Who Hearts Huckabee?

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