Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What will the November 2008 election map look like?

Here are some random thoughts about what the electoral map will look like in November 2008. Feel free to critique them or add your own.

Some notes about the 2004 voting: Here is CNN's 2004 exit poll.
White men made up 36% of the electorate (62% for Bush; 37% for Kerry). Non-white men made up 10% of the electorate (30% for Bush; 67% for Kerry).
People making less than $50,000 per year made up 45% of the electorate (44% for Bush; 55% for Kerry).
People making more than $50,000 per year made up 55% of the electorate (56% for Bush; 43% for Kerry).
White "Born Again" Evangelicals made up 23% of the electorate (78% for Bush; 21% for Kerry).
People who self identified as Democrats made up 37% of the electorate (11% for Bush; 89% for Kerry).
People who self identified as Republicans made up 37% of the electorate (93% for Bush; 6% for Kerry).
People who self identified as Independents made up 26% of the electorate (48% for Bush; 49% for Kerry).

How will 2008 differ?
Most importantly, the number of people self identifying as Republicans is way down while Independents and Democrats are up.
Next, it is looking increasingly to be the case that McCain will have real problems matching Bush's retention of 93% of his own party even in the face of lower Republican turnout (either because of Obama's cross over appeal among suburban, moderate Republicans or because of Bob Barr running as a Libertarian).
McCain also has real problems with evangelical conservatives - Republicans only solid base these days.
Polls suggest that Obama has far more appeal among Independents than Kerry did vs Bush.

Latest Favorables/Unfavorables (from
Obama: 44% fav/30% unfav/20% undecided/6% haven't heard of him
McCain: 44% fav/35% unfav/19% undecided/14% haven't heard of him

I think Obama's fund raising advantages over McCain as well as his appeal to Independents, Suburban voters and African Americans puts the following states in play that Bush won in 2004: Missouri, Ohio, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Arkansas and Louisiana. I think Georgia might also get threatened. Some of these (Missouri, Florida and Ohio) are usually swing states anyway. But the Southern States being in play will force McCain to play defense with his scarce resources.


The Law Talking Guy said...

The demographic arguments are interesting, but as your last paragraph suggests, what matters is translating those into geographic terms. McCain is doing much better in state-by-state polls against Obama than what his party identification would predict today. It does not help that he has been able to move to the center, while Obama has had to continue to shore up his base due to a bitter intraparty conflict.

Raised By Republicans said...

I think it is fair to say that rural, poor voters in the Appalachian region are unlikely to vote for Obama.

Fine. But to be blunt, they count less than Independent suburban and black voters in the Great Lakes cities (OH, MI, IN, WI, IL), the coastal South East (VA, NC, SC) and in the lower Mississippi valley(MO, AR, LA).

I'd gladly trade away West Virginia or Kentucky if I thought I'd get Virginia, Missouri or South Carolina in return.

History Buff said...

I wonder where those people are who haven't heard of Obama, in a bunker under the White House???

Raised By Republicans said...

And more than twice as many people haven't heard of John McCain.

And these polls are either registered or likely voters. That's pretty shocking.

The Law Talking Guy said...

It's a whole new map in 2008. Obama's strength with the black community and with suburban, and college-educated voters gives Dems chances at states they lost from 2000-2004 (Iowa and New Mexico) and gives them chances to make a play in other states: Virginia, North Carolina, Missouri, Colorado, Nevada.

His weakness with poor working class whites means that Pennsylvania will be a strugle again in 2008 as it was in 2004 and 2000. Dems need PA. Dems would like Ohio, but the GOP needs it. Obama may have a harder time in Ohio and PA than Clinton would have, but it's early on that score to know how much. We don't know how much defection to McCain there will really be. I suspect a lot less than polls currently suggest. But I suspect Obama will have to enlist Clinton to help fix the damage she's done to the party with these voters.

The key to an Obama-McCain matchup is that the number of states "in play" is much larger than in 2004. That is bad news for an underfunded and demoralized Republican party. It's going to be fun to watch.

Raised By Republicans said...

Speaking from my experiences in Ohio, I can't remember a time when a state wide vote was decided by the Appalachian turnout (the Appalachian counties in the SE just don't have that many people in them).

Cleveland will vote for any Democrat in large numbers. So will Akron-Canton and Youngstown-Warren. The corridor from Cincinatti to Toledo (I-75) will be Republican strongholds. So we have the north east part of the state going Democrat and the South and West going for Republicans.

The battle will be decided in and around Columbus. Columbus is disproporationately educated, non-inudstrial, 80s boom town. The inner city is made up largely of African-American Demcorats and the suburbs are largely Indpedendents and Moderate Republicans.

Obama's problems with working class voters may well be off set by McCain's problems with the Bigots for Jesus who really dominate up and down I-75 and in the Appalachian South East.

I won't write off Ohio on Hillary Clinton's spin doctoring alone.

Spotted Hanfish said...

Dumb question I know, but how exactly does the election run? I know it is not total votes. Is it a count of districts or a count of states?

Raised By Republicans said...

Spotted Handfish,

That's not a dumb question at all. You'd be surprised how many of my freshmen students don't know and they're Americans. So now to answer your question:

The President is elected by an electoral college made up of representatives from each state specially elected for this purpose. What people vote for is actually the Electoral college representatives.

Each state gets the number of representatives equal to the number of members they have in the House of Representatives (our lower House where each state's delegation is based on population with a minimum of 1 House Rep) plus 2 (for the number of Senators each state has). The least populated state therefore has 3 electoral votes and can never have fewer than 3. California has 55 electoral votes. The number of House districts (and electoral votes) is determined after each census every 10 years. Oh, and the overseas territories like Guam and Puerto Rico along with the District of Columbia (our capital district) get some token electoral votes so they can pretend they are represented too (they get no representation in Congress).

Most states assign their electoral votes on a winner take all basis. So if you win California by 1 vote, you get all 55 electoral votes from that state.

The result is that an American Presidential election campaign is largely a chess match involving 50 individual state elections.

All this means that rural voters are over represented in the Electoral College. This tends to benefit the Republicans right now because they have sold out completely to cater to rural voters but still give generous tax cuts to the suburban voters which generally is enough to keep them in the race in states like Ohio with a balance of urban, suburban and rural populations.

It also means that when the media reports nation wide polls, they really don't mean anything. The polls that really matter are the 50 individual state level polls. But really since some states' results are safely predictable one way or the other, the interesting polls are the ones from those states where the results are in doubt. This year, the number of those states is higher than usual because the Republicans are so divided and unpopular.

Typically, the states where the real fights take place are: Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Missouri, Iowa, West Virginia and New Mexico. The last three are fairly small states so the news will probably cover the action Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania most.

This year, it looks like in addition to those states the following states that are normally safe for Republicans may also be up for grabs: Virginia, North Carolina, Louisiana, Arkansas, Colorado.

They are just now starting to put polls in the field that do not include Hillary Clinton in anyway. This will start to give us an idea of how unified the Democratic party is after all the bluster from the Clinton campaign about how their voters won't transfer loyalty to Obama. The first such poll came out this week in Virginia and has Obama beating McCain in that state by 5 percentage points. The last poll they did had an additional question about Hillary being the nominee and that poll had McCain beating Obama by 10 percentage points.

Dr. Strangelove said...

Hillary's strategy for winning the general election was to be the conventional one: appeal to the moderate voters in the big swing states. The heart of that appeal was her more hawkish foreign policy. McCain is clearly intent on pursuing the identical strategy from the other side.

Obama is an excellent campaigner and may yet be able to recast himself to compete in those states... But at the moment, he is not doing so well in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida. Instead, Obama may have to rely on a large African-American turnout to win a few "red" Southern states--a unique coalition to say the least.

We shall see. I believe the Democratic nominee will win--I believe the war, the economy, and health care crisis will prove too much for McCain to overcome. At least, I hope so.

Raised By Republicans said...

"Obama is an excellent campaigner and may yet be able to recast himself to compete in those states... But at the moment, he is not doing so well in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida. Instead, Obama may have to rely on a large African-American turnout to win a few "red" Southern states--a unique coalition to say the least."

See my post "More on November 2008" for all the reasons that this analysis is looking increasingly invalid.

Raised By Republicans said...

"Hillary's strategy for winning the general election was to be the conventional one: appeal to the moderate voters in the big swing states. The heart of that appeal was her more hawkish foreign policy."

Two things:

First, I though Hillary was unambiguously against the war and any suggestion that she was waffling or a closet hawk was just playing cheap political games.

Second, the median American voter is now opposed to the war and so a hawkish approach is unlikely to win votes at the center. Indeed, if there is one thing that we can point to that explains her crushing defeat in Iowa (from which she never fully recovered), it is the profound unpopularity of her position on the war.

Dr. Strangelove said...

Hillary is unambiguously against the Iraq war. That has nothing to do with the "Hawkishness" I was talking about.

Raised By Republicans said...

What do you mean by hawkish then? Her agressiveness with Iran (also not a vote getter)?

She set this campaign up with very very bad advice. And then she fatally mismanaged her money.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Check out Clinton's statements in 2004.

She wasn't against the Iraq war - only its execution. She bought into the idea that pre-emptive strikes were good, that Saddam was a threat, etc. That is her hawkishness. Obama, Dean, and others knew that the rationale for war was bad, not just its execution. In this regard, Clinton and McCain actually make very similar statements about supporting the war for the right reasons, then criticizing its execution. They then have very different prescriptions based, of course, on the polity they face.

Bob Abramms said...

A new Presidential Election Map allows you to see exactly how and why the election is so close. This map ignores land mass in favor of one dimension only – how many people live in each state.
Each of the map’s grid squares represents 250,000 people. On the map is the exact population of the larger states along with each state’s electoral votes. The bigger the state on this map, the greater the electoral clout. This type of map demonstrates the power & importance of the toss-up states. See article at Map and images are at: GIF files from are downloadable and free between now and the election. ODT grants gratis permission for any non-profit use of the maps.

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