Tag Archives: Florida

Obama’s Anti-Kerry Strategy = Genius

In an interview with Politico‘s Ben Smith published this morning, Obama field director Steve Hildebrand vowed that their team would be spending a lot of time and money in Bush country this Fall. He named 14 red states, some of which were close in 2004 and some of which Kerry didn’t even consider, and he also vowed to give resources to down-ticket races in ruby red states like Bush’s Texas and Cheney‘s Wyoming.

The move is genius.

A big reason why Kerry lost is because he had tunnel vision and couldn’t see beyond a handful of competitive swing states in the Midwest, a failed strategy for several reasons: First, it oversaturates the target voters; secondly, it discourages friendly voters in unfriendly states (in this case Dems in red states) from getting involved; and thirdly and most importantly, it sends a very poor signal to the electorate in neglected states (in Kerry’s case the Heartland and South).

When a candidate puts all his chips on one hand, half of the time he’s going to end up felted.

Of course, resources are always an issue and something Kerry didn’t have in abundance. But as Smith notes in the Politico article, “Hilebrand’s plans underscore the unusual scope and ambition of Obama’s campaign, which can relatively cheaply extend its massive volunteer and technological resources into states which won’t necessarily produce electoral votes.”

And the ROI could be substantial. As Hokie fan Daivd “Mudcat” Saunders points out this week in the brilliant Weekly Standard cover piece “When Bubba Meets Obama,” when Dems pick off a Republican voter, it’s a “twofer” — one for Obama, and one less for McCain. Instead, Mudcat says, Dems often fall into the habit of “hunting squirrels they’ve already killed” (more on this story later).

Mudcat will probably be happy to know that the campaign has promised to contest 14 states that Bush carried in ’04 — “The closest four, Iowa, New Mexico, Ohio, Nevada, [Hildebrand] said, would see ‘a ton of attention.'” The campaign also plans to fight for Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Virginia, North Carolina, Montana, North Dakota, Indiana, Georgia and Alaska. Hildebrand also said they’d be spending a lot of time in New Hampshire, and in my personal favorite: Nebraska’s 2nd District.

I think it’s a smart move, and one that will certainly give The Electoral Map a lot to talk about in upcoming months.

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?

Confederate Flag Adorns Florida’s “Most Important Swing Region”

The Sons of the Confederacy hoisted the world’s largest Rebel flag last week at a intersection of two major interstates in Tampa.  It’s a 30′ x 50′ Stars and Bars that will be lit at night and will stand on private land at the junction of Interstate 75 and Interstate 4.

Interstate 4, as all political demographers know, is the main artery in what one Florida reporter recently described as “the most important swing region in the nation’s biggest swing state.”  The I-4 Corridor, as it’s called, includes 14 counties between the Tampa metro area and Daytona Beach, and is considered a pivotal area in Florida elections.

“Since at least 1980, the combined votes in those 14 counties have almost perfectly reflected the votes of the state as a whole,” wrote Tampa Tribune reporter William Marsh in May on the eve of Barack Obama‘s visit to  Tampa.   It’s the swing region between reliably Republican north and southwestern Florida and staunchly Democratic southeastern Florida.

Marsh also cited USF professor Susan McManus who predicted that Obama might have a tough time winning the I-4 Corridor.  She noted Republicans’ edge in registration, the fact that many voters here are older and value “experience and stability,” and the presence of suburbanites who could be susceptible to allegations about Obama’s patriotism.

But judging by the 1500 square foot Rebel battle flag flying 139 feet over the I-4 Corridor’s largest media market, does Obama have another hurdle to worry about here?

Could Obama Win Without Florida?

Florida political sage Adam Smith doesn’t think so.

Smith, the political editor for the St. Pete’s Times, penned a hypothetical memo to Barack Obama on Saturday warning him about the dangers of “blowing off 27 electoral votes.” Despite resounding GOP victories in the last two gubernatorial elections and a 5 point win by George W. Bush in 2004, Smith says “Democrats haven’t been better positioned to pick off Florida since 2000, maybe even since 1976.”

Consider the stats:

  • In the 37 Florida counties with at least 50,000 voters — more than 90 percent of the electorate — Democrats have gained ground among registered voters in 30, while Republicans lost ground in 26. For the first time in many cycles, voters are registering as Democrats at a faster rate than they are registering as independents. Republicans are gaining mainly in North Florida counties that have been voting Republican for years anyway, while Democrats are gaining in battleground areas
  • A few weeks ago, Democrats overtook Republicans in voter registration among Hispanics, a crucial voter group that could account for 15 percent of the Florida vote in November. Senator, a Democrat now represents Little Havana in the state House, something nobody would have imagined a few years ago.
  • Look at the 22 counties where Al Gore received 45 percent to 55 percent of the vote in 2000. Since that virtually tied election, the Democrats’ net registration advantage has grown by more than 100,000.  In a state that decided the 2000 election by 537 votes, you bet it matters that today Democrats have more registered voters in a bellwether like Pinellas County, where Republicans in 2000 had a nearly 28,000-voter advantage. Or that in the mega battleground of Miami-Dade County, Democrats have had a net registration gain of nearly 59,000 since 2000.
  • Out of Florida’s 120 state House districts, 77 have become more Democratic in registration, which helps explain why nine House seats have shifted from Republican to Democrat since 2006, the best performance Democrats have had in decades. Likewise, Democrats picked off three congressional seats in 2006, and Democrat Alex Sink easily won a hard-fought statewide campaign for chief financial officer.

The evidence is certainly compelling that Democrats could have a solid shot at Florida.  The downside for them, according to Smith, is that McCain is “a nearly ideal candidate for Florida: strong among veterans, Hispanics, and potentially among independent and swing voters.”

Either way, Florida is gaining political clout every year and by 2012 will have 29 electoral votes.  Democrats will abandon it at their own peril.

Cillizza Posts His Latest Electoral Map Line

Washington Post‘s Chris Cillizza is releasing a new presidential electoral map line each Friday. Here is his latest list on Cillizza’s The Fix b.og, along with The Electoral Map’s own analysis. What do you think?

10. Florida (Bush, 52 percent)

  • The Fix: “Polling suggests that if Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) is the nominee, then the state is a toss up; if Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) is the Democratic standard-bearer — as is more likely — then presumptive GOP nominee John McCain holds a double-digit lead in current polling.”
  • The Electoral Map: Florida is as red as the Georgia Bulldog’s jerseys.

9. New Hampshire (Kerry, 50 percent)

  • The Fix: “There’s little doubt that McCain is extremely popular in the Granite State — especially with the independent voters who comprise the most crucial voting bloc. But New Hampshire is also one of the hotbeds of anti-war sentiment in the country.”
  • The Electoral Map: Expect McCain to make a strong push for New Hampshire. He’ll make it his home base on Northeastern swings through the moderate states of Maine, Connecticut and New Jersey.

8. Michigan (Kerry, 51 percent)

  • The Fix: “John Kerry won the state by just over 150,000 votes (out of more than 4.6 million cast) in 2004, and the ongoing question of whether and how Democrats will seat the Michigan delegation provides ammunition for Republicans to argue that the other party is trying to silence the voters of the state.”
  • The Electoral Map: Didn’t Patrick Ruffini say McCain will win the Gerald Ford Republicans? Well, Ford was from Grand Rapids.

7. Minnesota (Kerry, 51 percent)

  • “The Fix still believes Pawlenty is the frontrunner to serve as McCain’s runningmate, a scenario that if it comes to pass will make the Republican ticket quite competitive in Minnesota.”
  • The Electoral Map: I love how Republicans are making a play for the Gopher State by hosting their convention there, but Minnesota’s DNA is as liberal as Paul Wellstone.

6. Colorado (Bush, 52 percent)

  • The Fix: “The November election will be a seminal vote in determining the future direction of Colorado politics.”
  • The Electoral Map: Obama wins Colorado by wooing independents. Clinton looses to McCain.

5. Ohio (Bush, 51 percent)

  • The Fix: “A recent Quinnipiac University poll showed… Clinton leading McCain 48 percent to 39 percent while Obama took 43 percent to 42 percent for McCain — a potential problem for Democrats if Obama winds up as the nominee.”
  • The Electoral Map: Ohio is Clinton’s best argument. Her win in Strickland’s old sixth district along the Ohio River Valley was impressive.

4. Virginia (Bush, 54 percent)

  • The Fix: “The fact that three Virginia Democrats — Sen. Jim Webb, Gov. Tim Kaine and former governor Mark Warner — are all mentioned as potential vice presidential picks and you quickly see why Virginia is moving up The Line.”
  • The Electoral Map: The biggest misconception is that Virginia is now a tossup. First of all, it’s still a Republican state, even if it has chosen Democrats in the last two gubernatorial elections and watched a Republican Senate incumbent self-destruct. McCain will win with strong support in the Navy-heavy Hampton Roads and with moderate Republicans in Fairfax County, Loudoun County and Richmond.

3. New Mexico (Bush, 50 percent)

  • The Fix: “McCain gives Republicans a fighting chance in the state due to his neighbor appeal, but the state has been trending Democratic of late and either Clinton or Obama will be favored in the fall.”
  • The Electoral Map: Never been to New Mexico, but if it has a rivalry with Arizona in the same way that Virginia does with Maryland then John McCain might be in trouble.

2. Nevada (Bush, 50 percent)

  • The Fix: “As of last month, there were 441,676 active Democrats compared with 396,489 active registered Republicans.”
  • The Electoral Map: This state is growing so quickly, I haven’t come across one analyst who has a good read on it.

1. Iowa (Bush, 50 percent)

  • The Fix: “After a series of difficult reelection races in past cycles, Sen. Tom Harkin (D) faces no serious opposition from Republicans this fall — meaning he will almost certainly win a fifth term. Harkin’s race symbolizes Democrats’ ascendancy of late in the state — a trend line that should help whoever is the party’s presidential nominee.”
  • The Electoral Map: Iowa Democrats should be bullish after their 2006 drubbing.

Where’s Wisconsin??? Republicans have a better chance of winning the Badger State than Dems do of taking the Sunshine State.

Hillary Analyzes the Electoral Map

No, not this blog, but the small-letter electoral map. Here’s what she had to say about the political geography:

“You have to look at what the electoral map is likely to be in the fall, and I don’t think anybody doubts that a Democrat has to have a number of the big states anchored in order to put together the electoral votes needed to win.

“There’s a generally accepted position that Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida are the critical swing states for Democrats, and that you have to try to win at least two out of three. I would like to win three out of three, and I think it is significant that I have won Ohio and I’ve won Florida, and I’ve won the big states that would serve as those anchors for the electoral map.”

Anchors away, Mrs. Clinton!

Regional Reporters Lower Expectations

Each state tends to have a marquee political reporter who sets the tone for campaign coverage but also serves as occasional cheerleader for that state’s electoral importance.  Think Des Moines Register‘s David Yespen skewering a candidate for downplaying the caucuses or the New Hampshire Union-Leader‘s John DiStaso defending the Granite State’s treasured first-in-the-nation status.

Even Arkansas NewsJohn Brummett once argued to me that “Arkansas’ six electoral votes were as decisive as Florida” in the 2000 presidential election.

But in the last few days we’ve noticed a couple of reporters getting a little down on their states.  St. Pete’s Times and Florida political sage Adam Smith fretted that the Florida was loosing its place in the political sun.  “It’s time to broach an unspeakable, heretical suggestion in this state,” he wrote on Saturday. “Maybe, just maybe, Democrats can continue snubbing America’s biggest swing state and still march into the White House.”

Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Larry Eichel lowered expectations even further for his state.  “The primary will be important, but not all-important,” he explained. “It will not turn out to be just another contest. But it’s not looking anything like a final confrontation either.”  Eichel went on to crunch the numbers on how the Keystone State accounted for fewer delegates than states that vote on May 6.

Greenville News’ Dan Hoover was a little bit more praiseworthy of his state, noting, “McCain is another in line of Republicans, beginning with Ronald Reagan in 1980, who needed and used South Carolina’s Republican presidential primary as a launching pad to the nomination.”  But Hoover is sure to throw in a disclaimer: “McCain isn’t in the Oval Office yet and may never be.” Thanks for clearing that up; we wouldn’t want to get the wrong impression of South Carolina.