Tag Archives: Demographics

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

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McCain’s NOVA Advantage

A McCain presidency means steady military spending which means a sustained flow of money to Northern Virginia’s economy.

Unlike other high-tech areas such as Silicon Valley or North Carolina’s Research Triangle, the seed money for NOVA’s booming Dulles Corridor came from Pentagon outsourcing that began in the Reagan and Clinton years and accelerated with Homeland Security outsourcing in the Bush years. As I wrote in National Journal in August, 2007:

“Major federal contractors like Booz Allen Hamilton, General Dynamics, and SAIC set up their headquarters in Fairfax. They, in turn, subcontracted work to what [Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerry] Connolly calls ‘technology specialty’ firms, which then hired professionals such as lawyers and accountants. A snowball effect ensued. Fairfax welcomed 103,925 new jobs ‘over a 15-year period ending in 2005,’ according to a December 2006 report by Monthly Labor Review. ‘No other county in the Washington area came close.’”

The young professionals at those firms in Tyson’s Corner, Reston and Ashburn are part of Obama’s core constituency. But, the ideology and lifeblood of those firms is rooted in an aggressive foreign policy that is one part of the Bush legacy that McCain would be sure to continue.

Don’t get me wrong – This doesn’t mean McCain would win Fairfax County four years after Bush became the first Republican candidate to loose it in 40 years. What it means, however, is that NOVA will not be the kind of slam dunk for Democrats that it’s been in recent statewide elections.

The Wine Track/Beer Track Map

Beer swigers prefer Clinton and wine sippers like Obama, right?

Not so simple, according to Poblano’s map at FiveThirtyEight.com. It turns out “Obama leads Clinton 13-10 in wine states, and 12-7 in beer states.”

Wine States Versus Beer States

Wine States Versus Beer States

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.

Pennsylvania Electoral Map

More maps up later today, but here’s a preliminary one.

Just as I predicted, Barack Obama won Rendell’s base and Hillary Clinton swept Casey Country.  Except Clinton did much better in the burbs and exurbs surrounding Philly than Casey did.  I’ll let Chuck Todd explain:

“Obama looked to be a lock to win the Philly ‘burbs; the only question was by how much. But he didn’t win them. Overall, Obama carried just seven of the state’s 67 counties. In his successful gubernatorial primary win over Bob Casey in 2002, Ed Rendell carried 10 counties — and the big difference between Rendell’s path and Obama’s was that Rendell carried Montgomery and Bucks counties, while Obama lost MontCo narrowly and got clobbered in Bucks.”

2002 Democratic Primary for Governor

2002 Pennsylvania Electoral Map

Pennsylvania Electoral Maps (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Pennsylvania  Electoral Map

Montgomerey Pennsylvania Electoral MapPennsylvania Congressional Districts

Pennsylvania Primer, Part I

Registration is way up for Democrats, which should benefit Barack Obama, according to Politico‘s Jeanne Cummings. The Politico also has a halfway decent map showing where registration is up, although the maps could be much better if A.) they were color-coded to show where registering is up, and B.) were able to be embedded into blogs such as this one.

Brookings also has a must-read about demographics in the Keystone State, with such interesting nuggets as “While often classed as a so-called ‘Rust Belt’ state, its eastern and south central regions are increasingly becoming part of the nation’s Northeast Corridor.”

Meanwhile, National Journal‘s Gregg Sangillo predicts where Obama will struggle, placing a heavy qualifier on race:

“The large rural swath in the center of the commonwealth—famously dubbed ‘Alabama’ by Democratic strategist James Carville—is home to culturally conservative white voters. In addition, the state has the highest per capita membership in the National Rifle Association in the country, according to the gun group. This region could prove especially difficult for Obama to win, according to experts.

“It’s not just the center of the state that could prove resistant to Obama’s skin tone. In Scranton and surrounding northeast locales Hillary Clinton is hugely popular.”

Poblano at FiveThirtyEight.com suggests the best thing Obama can get from these folks is a non-vote:

“If Obama is to stay within a few points of Clinton on Tuesday, what he’ll need is for a lot of those unlikely/undecided voters in the central portion of the state to decide they’re fed up with the whole thing and not vote. So, Obama should probably be rooting for low turnout overall. For Obama to actually win on Tuesday — not just stay close — he will probably also need high turnout in Philadelphia, and maybe among a couple of other select groups like newly-registered voters (who favor Obama 3:2 according to Franklin & Marshall) and students.”

Real Clear Politics’ John McIntyre weighs the outcomes, declaring that if Obama wins the “race is effectively over,” but if Clinton wins by more 14 points, she “will be on a path to claim a popular vote win that will give her every bit as much of an argument as the legitimate ‘winner’. In this scenario anything could ultimately happen.”

Check back tomorrow morning for my predictions of how each candidate will do in each county. In the meantime, here’s a screen shot of the Politicos voter registration map:

Metroliner Media

Strange Maps has a great chart about where the news breaks, and it’s no surprise that the highest concentration is inside the Beltway and the Big Apple.

Where the News Breaks

TNR’s Josh Patashnik observes, “It’s certainly not all that big a surprise that New York and DC dominate coverage, but the scale of their domination is pretty impressive–more stories are datelined in DC than in the entire state of California. And look how puny states like Texas, Illinois, and Ohio appear compared to smaller eastern states like Massachusetts and Connecticut.”

Glenn Reynolds seems underwhelmed, scoffing, “This map suggests that it has a lot to do with where reporters are already hanging out.”