Tag Archives: Connecticut

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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Could Lieberman Deliver Connecticut to the GOP?

Joe Lieberman (?-CT) has been spending plenty of time with John McCain lately, and now we get word from Ben Smith that’s he hosting conference calls with reporters bashing Barack Obama on Iran.  “Senator Obama argued today that American foreign policy in recent years has essentially sort of strengthened Iran…  and I disagree with that,” said Lieberman.

So assuming that he continues to play a prominent role in the McCain campaign, and possibly is even tapped as a running mate, could Lieberman put Connecticut in play?

I doubt it, but consider some numbers: Chris Healy at The Everyday Republican is trumpeting a Rasmussen Reports poll released on Tuesday that finds Obama taking 47% in the Nutmeg State to McCain’s 44%.  “We have always felt that Sen. McCain’s positions and personal story and long record of being a maverick would play well in our state,” writes Healy. “The numbers indicate that, and they are even more amazing considering how the Democrats have dominated the news for the last two months.”

Politico‘s Jonathan Martin also noted in his March article “Maverick wants to paint blue states red” that McCain has his eyes on the state that has elected two third-party candidate to statewide office in recent years (Lieberman and Lowell Weicker).

The chances are slim for McCain in Connecticut.  But considering all the time he’ll be spending in New Hampshire, isn’t it worth the occasional day trip down the Connecticut River, if only to make things interesting?

McCain Looking Strong in the Northeast

New polls in New Jersey and Connecticut show John McCain tied with or leading both of his Democratic rivals in those two states. A new Rassmussen Reports survey of Garden State voters released today has McCain edging Barack Obama 43-42% and beating Hillary Clinton 45-42%. A Quinnipiac University poll of Connecticut voters released March 27 found Clinton sneaking by McCain 45-42%, and Obama trumping McCain 52-35%.

I’ve suggested before that McCain is going to make an early run at the blue Coasts. New Jersey trended toward George Bush between 2000 and 2004, and the prez increased his margins by 5.8% in Bergen County and 6.6% in Middlesex County. Connecticut is more Democratic but also is tougher to peg, having elected two independents statewide in recent years, including Lowell Weicker and Joe Lieberman, a McCain surrogate.

Politics Online Conference: Cartograms

The Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet is hosting its annual Politics Online Conference on Tuesday and Wednesday, and I’m lucky enough to be speaking on the Political Cartography 2.0 panel on Tuesday at 4:15 p.m. I’m going to be posting some of the elements on my slideshow in the next couple of days and would love to hear your feedback.  I’m separating the slideshow into six categories: the best/worst, D.I.Y. maps, projection maps, Google mashups, cartograms and maps that prove a point.

In second installment of my slideshow, I’m posting a few examples of cartograms.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with cartograms, they’re maps where geographical areas are skewed to fit statistical data.

The example I see the most is the 2004 presidential election. If you look at a nationwide electoral map you’ll see a sea of red, but we know the election was much closer.  A cartogram of the ’04 contest skews the map so that we see large blocks of blue around the metropolitan areas and clumps of hundreds of smaller red shapes in the heartland.

In the first example from this election cycle, a blogger at OpenLeft produced this impressive cartogram of the Democratic primary.  You’ll see that Hillary Clinton won that big blue block on the left coast (that’s L.A.), and a couple of big ones in the East (NYC).  Meanwhile, Barack Obama took Chicago, which is represented by that big green shape in the mid-section of the country.

Cartogram of the Democratic Primary (OpenLeft)

Cartogram of the Democratic Primary

The next cartogram is of the Democratic primary in Connecticut, compliments of CTLocalPolitics.net.

Democratic Primary in Connecticut

Democratic Primary in Connecticut

The third cartogram represents John Kerry‘s win in Iowa in 2004.  Kerry did better in the counties that have a darker shade of blue, including the big block of Des Moines in the middle and the small cities in the East.

John Kerry’s Performance in the 2004 Iowa Caucuses (Style.org)

John Kerry’s Performance in the 2004 Iowa Caucuses

And the last map is one of my favorites: It’s a cartogram of the electoral clout in Virginia and a great representation that whomever wins Fairfax County usually wins the commonwealth.

Electoral Clout in Virginia

Electoral Clout in Virginia

Politics Online Conference: D.I.Y. Maps

The Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet is hosting its annual Politics Online Conference on Tuesday and Wednesday, and I’m lucky enough to be speaking on the Political Cartography 2.0 panel on Tuesday at 4:15 p.m. I’m going to be posting some of the elements on my slideshow in the next couple of days and would love to hear your feedback. I’m separating the slideshow into six categories: the best/worst, D.I.Y. maps, projection maps, Google mashups, cartograms and maps that prove a point.

In the first installment of my slideshow, I’m going to post a few examples of D.I.Y. maps. I think these are some of the best maps on the Internet, and a great example that individuals with a passion for geography can show up some of the biggest publications in the MSM.

The first example comes from Nick Beaudrot at Cogitamusblog.com. Nick has been posting some of the best electoral maps that I’ve seen this election cycle. They’re clean, timely and easy to understand. Here’s his one from California:

Cogitamusblog.com — California Electoral Map

Cogitamusblog.com — California Electoral Map

The next map comes from CTLocalPolitics.net. It’s clear that whoever runs this site has a passion for electoral maps, and they do a superb job creating maps for Connecticut elections. This maps reflects the 2006 race between Rep. Chris Shays (R) and challenger Dianne Farrell (D).

2006 Connecticut Fourth District

2006 Connecticut Fourth District

The third map is part of a series that I found at OpenLeft. The series is truly impressive and worth a look-see.

Nationwide Democratic Primary

Nationwide Democratic Primary

The fourth map is from, uh, some crappy site called PatrickOttenhoff.com. It’s a Fairfax County map of the results of the 2006 Senate election in Virginia between Sen. Jim Webb (D) and then-Sen. George Allen (R).

Virginia Senate Race in Fairfax County

Virginia Senate Race in Fairfax County

And the last map comes to us courtesy of my colleague Howard Mortman and his go-to blog Extreme Mortman. It’s a picture of ABC News’ Jake Tapper drawing his own electoral map on the beach in Florida. Even when he’s on the beach, he can’t stop thinking about electoral maps.

Jake Tapper’s Electoral Map

Jake Tapper’s Electoral Map

The Metroliner Candidate

John McCain takes Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Delaware.

Amtrak’s Metroliner

Metroliner

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.