Tag Archives: West Virginia

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?

Washington Post’s “Lowest Common Denominator” Map

WaPo’s Dan Balz has an A1 story today explaining the 2008 electoral map to what one might call casual observers of the race. So the article covers most of the CW — Obama will target new battlegrounds like Virginia and Colorado, McCain has his sights on Michigan, the Midwest is pivotal, and so on… — but Balz also drops a couple of interesting stats that I didn’t know:

“States the Democrats have won in four of the past five elections add up to 255 electoral votes; states Republicans have won in five of the past seven elections (including two Ronald Reagan electoral landslides) account for 269 electoral votes. New Hampshire, New Mexico and West Virginia, representing 14 electoral votes, fall into neither category.”

It’s striking that the GOP has such a high electoral floor.

It’s also interesting that New Hampshire and West Virginia seem be going through these fundamental political transformations. West Virginia was once a lynchpin in the New Deal Democratic coalition, voting for the Democratic presidential candidate in elections from 1920 to 2000 with the exceptions of the GOP landslides of 1954, ’72 and ’84. And the Granite State’s DNA is so Republican that the Legislature was in GOP hands from 1911 to 2004, when the Dems took it over.

Balz also notes that “In 2004, 13 states were decided by seven or fewer percentage points: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.”

One state in that list stuck out for me: New Jersey. Bush lost here by only seven points, which was a smaller margin that he won the supposedly battleground state of Virginia. So the question is: is New Jersey really a swing state (Bush Sr. won here in 1988), or was it a 9/11 anomaly? And more importantly, how much time and money does McCain want to spend here in 2008?

Wild, Wonderful and Without Many Electoral Votes

Hillary Clinton dropped an interesting stat today. Per Memoli, she told a Clear Fork, W.V. crowd, “Democrats don’t get elected president unless West Virginia votes for you. And everybody knows West Virginia has picked presidents pretty accurately over the last years.” She went on to give John F. Kennedy as an example as a Democratic who “had West Virginia behind him.”

But here’s another stat: When JFK ran for president, the Mountain State had eight Electoral College votes. Today it has only five. And he’s an even more stark stat: Lyndon B. Johnson won 538,087 raw votes in West Virginia in 1964 but John Kerry took only 326,541 votes there in 2004. So, obviously the state and its impact has decreased.

Not to be outdone, Bill Clinton also dropped his own outlandish stat on Monday. Rallying a crowd in Logan, he said: “You think this crowd’s noisy. Just wait til we win like 80-20,” quickly added, “We’ve got to give her a vote tomorrow of 80-20 or 90-10.”