April 14, 2008


McCain's Electoral College Math (Richard Baehr, 4/14/08, Real Clear Politics)

The Republicans have landed on the one candidate in their party ideally suited for the race this year, with broad appeal among Democrats and independents, a veteran and war hero during a time of war, a candidate with a reputation for being a straight talker (and not talking down to voters, or outright lying to them), and with real strength in larger swing states. McCain is also benefiting from the fact that the Democrats continue to snipe at each other rather than at him, and each candidate has exposed weaknesses in the other, which become ammunition for McCain in the fall campaign.

McCain opens up the map to a broader Electoral College victory than George Bush achieved in 2000 and 2004, particularly against Barack Obama. Though Bush won 30 states in 2000 and 31 states 4 years later, the loss of any state Bush won in 2000 would have given the election to Al Gore, and the shift of 60,000 votes in Ohio in 2004 would have resulted in a John Kerry victory. [...]

At the start of this seemingly interminable Presidential campaign, Democrats saw a very favorable Electoral College map. With Hillary Clinton as the likely nominee, Democrats believed they could turn many states from red to blue, including Ohio (20), Florida (27), Iowa (7), New Mexico (5), Nevada (5), Colorado (9), and possibly Arizona (11), Virginia (13), West Virginia (5), and Missouri (11). But Clinton is unlikely to get the nomination.

Barack Obama is a far weaker candidate in many of these targeted states, but in particular in Ohio, Florida., Missouri, Arkansas, and West Virginia. McCain takes Arizona off the table against either nominee. Obama is polling better than Clinton in the competitive southwestern states and Iowa, as well as in Oregon, but trails badly in Virginia, which has elected a string of Democrats in recent years to statewide office. Some Democratic Party officials have written off Florida if Obama is the nominee (in some surveys he trails in the state by 10% or more, though he only trails by 4% in the Rasmussen survey). The Rasmussen survey shows McCain with a 7% lead over Obama in Ohio. Obama lost badly in that state's Democratic primary (by 10% to Clinton) winning only 5 of 88 counties. Now having insulted rural voters for their attachment to guns and God, the state has become even less friendly turf for him.

The Electoral math looks this way: if Florida and Ohio are safe for McCain, and Virginia and Missouri are too, as they now all appear to be, then McCain has a base of 260 Electoral College votes of the 270 he needs to win. He would need to only win10 from among the states Bush won last time that are in play this year: Colorado (currently tied), New Mexico (3 point Obama lead), Iowa (4 point Obama lead) and Nevada (4 point Obama lead), and several tempting blue states in which McCain is currently competitive: Michigan (18), Pennsylvania (21), New Jersey (15) Wisconsin (10), Minnesota (10), Oregon (7), and New Hampshire (4), among them.

Gingrich compares Obama to Dukakis in '88 (Ralph Z. Hallow, April 14, 2008, Washington Times)
Both the Illinois senator and the Massachusetts governor were widely seen early in the campaign to be different kinds of Democrats and held big poll leads on that basis, Mr. Gingrich noted. But last week's San Francisco fundraiser, in which Mr. Obama blamed voting for religion and gun rights on bitterness over economics, shows that the Democratic front-runner in 2008 to be as out-of-touch as the Democratic nominee in 1988, the former speaker said.

"The real Obama shows up in San Francisco," Mr. Gingrich told The Washington Times. "There is a Dukakis-scale second Obama who keeps creeping out from behind the disciplined performer" who has wowed audiences on the campaign stump.

In May 1988, Mr. Dukakis led George H.W. Bush, the Republican nominee, by 19 percentage points,but lost by almost eight points that November after giving repeated examples — bragging about his ACLU membership and a disastrous photo-op in a tank — that made Mr. Bush's case that Mr. Dukakis was a card-carrying liberal elitist far removed from the beliefs, desires and principles of working Americans.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 14, 2008 9:28 AM
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