Why Another Blog?

I've decided to set up another blog, (my other one is called Writer's Musings), because there are some topics just too weighty for that blog.

So here it is. In this space I'll explore more serious issues in more detail. I do not expect visitors to agree with me in all cases.
In this forum feel free to take off the gloves, grab a handful of mud and fight for what you believe in.

Simple rules, rather like cage-fighting in the blogosphere:
No direct name calling. No excessive profanity. No whining when smacked in the face with mud.
Sling inuendo. Feel free to ask leading questions even if in a snide tone.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Democrat’s Conundrum

The Dem’s have a big problem. It’s always been there, but it just got worse. For Obama to win in November, he can’t play to the liberal base of the Democratic Party. If he does, he loses the middle. McCain, on the other hand, must play to the conservative base. Playing to the middle does not work for Republicans.

With the selection of Sarah Palin, the McCain campaign made its strongest play to the conservative base. With that selection, it is likely that Obama will not win a single Southern state. It is highly unlikely that Obama can win the Presidency without winning at least one Southern state. He will have a serious fight in all states with large rural/small-town populations; read that more conservative states.

A look at the numbers

For McCain:

These states are likely secure for the Republicans: AK, AL, AR, AZ, FL, GA, ID, KS, KY, LA, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NM, NV, OK, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WV, WY (239 electoral votes). VA was Obama’s best bet to steal a Southern state, but that was when conservatives were non-committal. That probably changed by adding Palin to the ticket.

For Obama:

These states, including the District of Columbia, are likely secure for the Democrats: CA, CT, DC, DE, HI, MA, NJ, NY, OR, RI (141 electoral votes). His selection of Biden as a running mate was a big mistake. What states that Obama didn't already have does Biden bring to the table?

Toss up or “Battleground States”

Most of these states have large rural/small-town populations that tend to be more conservative, but they also have urban cores that tend to be more liberal and can go either way: CO, IA, IL, IN, MD, ME, MI, MN, NH, OH, PA, VT, WA, WI (158 electoral votes).

Of these CO is probably leaning to McCain (which would bring McCain to 248 electoral votes), while MD is probably leaning to Obama (which would bring Obama to 151 electoral votes). The rest are too close to call for the time being.

Therefore the election comes down to the following seven states: IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, PA, and WI (states with at least 10 electoral votes). All these states were closely contested in the last two elections. The biggest prizes in this mix are IL, OH and PA with 62 votes between them.

There are 538 electoral votes and it takes 270 electoral votes to win. McCain needs to win one of the following: IL, OH or PA plus one small state (22 votes). If Obama loses any of these three, he will likely lose the election.

Much can happen between now and November. The debates will likely shake out a few of the “too close to call” states. That’s my reading of the tea leaves. As the weeks pass and we get closer, I’ll refine my projections. One thing for certain, the election became a lot more interesting than it was looking like a month ago. A month ago I gave McCain a lock on half as many electoral votes.


Tempest in a Teapot said...

Reality check:

States you list as "battleground" that haven't voted for a Republican presidential candidate for two decades, and that have been blue for this entire cycle: MD, ME, MN, PA, VT, WA. In fact, MN, with its 10 electoral votes, hasn't gone Republican in a presidential race since 1972, which is why the Repubs chose it for their convention, of course. These are not swing states, and their total electoral votes equal 63. Add in the shoo-in 21 from Illinois, we're at 83, bringing the Obama count to 224. Others very likely to swing Dem: MI and WI (27).

Swing states you listed as safe Republican: FL, NC, NM, VA, worth a total of 60. Once those are (rightfully) added back to the battleground group, McCain's count drops to 179.

For more, see: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/maps/obama_vs_mccain/?map=5

J. L. Krueger said...


Time for your own reality check:

My analysis deals with the impact of the Palin selection, because I was pointing out the changes in dynamics that have occurred because of that selection. Though I group “battleground” with “toss-ups” they are not synonymous. My point in including a state like MD in the “toss-up” category was in looking at her potential impact in a state otherwise “safe” for the Dems.

As for “battleground” states, you need to start with definitions. A “battleground” state is one that neither party took by more than 6% in the previous election. (This is the definition used by Gallup and Rasmussen.) By definition, before I applied any other factors, the “battleground” states were: NH, WI (won by Democrats in 2004 by less than 2%); MN, DE, OR, PA, MI, HI (won by Democrats in 2004 by less than 6%); NM, IA (won by Republicans in 2004 by less than 2%); CO, OH, NV, FL, MO (won by Republicans in 2004 by less than 6%).

The first factor I included is that unpopular George Bush is not running. This will shift states closer to or further from being “battleground” states. For example, NJ just missed being a “battleground” by virtue of Kerry pulling 6.7% of the vote in 2004. Without Bush on the ticket, NJ has moved closer to “battleground” classification.

Second, I looked at the by county distribution from 2004 and 2000 which is far more telling than the Red/Blue state breakdown. Rural counties are more conservative than urban ones and they are more numerous. If they are motivated to vote, it changes the election’s complexion.

Third I looked at trends over the past four elections for each “battleground” state to see if either party was making headway. Even with an unpopular Bush running in 2004, the Republicans made significant headway in traditional Democratic strongholds like MN, MI, and WI.

Fourth, I added in the Palin factor as far as motivating enough of those rural counties to offset the urban counties’ advantage in population.

Fifth, I looked at by state polling results immediately before and after the conventions. Not all states have post-convention polling data.

Although Real Clear Politics has some good information, you should be more cautious when accepting their average poll data, a methodology which is statistically unsound. Polling data should never be averaged over time as they have done to determine who leads in a particular state. Averaging multiple polls conducted even a month apart becomes statistical smoke and mirrors.

Polls are a statistical snapshot at discreet point in time. What people thought of Obama and McCain a month ago has no bearing on today. Any data from earlier than about 27 Aug is irrelevant to today as far as determining who is leading. Even that data is fast becoming irrelevant.

Using older data has inherent flaws. One of these flaws is that the older data was influenced by by events/conditions that have since changed. Current data includes the effects of candidates who were not present earlier (Sarah Palin) and current events/conditions.

If you bothered to look more closely, you would notice that many of the states included in Real Clear’s Electoral Map have not had any polling data taken since June. This is how people get surprised come Election Day.

Data outliers from early polls, results where a candidate had either overwhelming or underwhelming support, have disproportionate impact on RCP’s polling average. If a candidate had strong support a month ago in a particular state, for example a 18% lead, but today is down -2%, using the RCP methodology he has an 8% lead in that state and you would say that the state is leaning toward him (as RCP has done). But this is clearly nonsense. If the vote were taken today, at best the state is a toss-up.

Equally important is analyzing who conducted the poll, for who, the polling questions, sample size and how the sample was selected.

The most significant political event that has happened since the Democratic convention is the selection of Sarah Palin as McCain’s running mate. At this discreet point in time that selection has had a profound effect on both campaigns, but most significantly on the McCain campaign.

With Palin, the South will be solid for McCain where they were not a month ago. With Palin, states like OH and PA are suddenly less “toss-ups” or leaning to Obama. And that was the point I was making.

Time will tell if the advantage expands, holds or shrinks, but right now Obama’s campaign is in trouble.