Six to watch

Of the 50 U.S. states and Washington D.C., which between them provide the 538 electoral colleges votes for a presidential election, exactly six have been won by the winners of the 1972, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004 elections. It is therefore tempting to argue that the entire 2008 election can be defined by which candidate will win most or all of these states.

Intriguingly, all six have at least one common border with another, and they form a barrier between North and South as well as a barrier between the East and the West. One could walk from the Great Lakes (well, more likely drive) to the Gulf of Mexico without ever leaving one the six.

The furthest to the North is Ohio. No Republican has been elected President without winning that state, and the last Democrat to win a presidential election without winning the Buckeye State was John F. Kennedy in 1960.

Cross the Ohio River and one arrives in Kentucky. Like Ohio, J.F.K. was the last President to be elected without the support of Kentucky voters. However, in most respects this is traditionally a Democratic party stronghold. Since 1956 (General Eisenhower's re-election year), Kentucky has more often been Republican.

Kentucky is generally a lower-taxed state with less industry than Ohio. It also had slavery, whereas the 19th century Underground Railroad for escaped slaves led to Ohio. They should be opposites, but aren't.

Head South from Kentucky and one enters Tennessee. Here the Republicans hardly ever won until 1952 (Dwight W. Eisenhower's first term). However, the voting population nearly doubled in the 1945-1960 period and with it, it seems the Democratic party declined. Most dramatically, in 1968, virtually all the Democratic counties backed George Wallace, the segregationist candidate. The Democrats came third that year, but since then the state has been won by every winner.

Go West (or North-West) from Tennessee and you enter the southern tip of Missouri. This is the mother of all weather vanes. Since 1904, Missouri's electoral college votes have always been on the winning side, except, that same 1956 election where the Democrats took Ohio and lost nationally.

Move southwards again down the Mississippi/Missouri basin and one hits Arkansas, where Bill Clinton was Governor. Like Tennessee, Arkansas was solidly Democrat (never voted Republican from 1872 to 1972) and the segregationist candidate in 1968 won there. However, only a southern Democrat (Bill Clinton or Georgia's Jimmy Carter) has beaten a Republican since Richard Nixon in 1972.

Finally, push downriver to Louisiana. This is again a traditional Democratic state. Although Eisenhower managed to win there in 1956 and Louisiana managed to back segregationist candidates TWICE since 1945 (in 1948 and 1968), this was another state where Democrats used to win well over 80% of the vote on occasion.

In 2004, John Kerry came close in Ohio, but nowhere near winning any of the other states. I reckon that one difference this time round is that areas not considered vulnerable to either side in the past two elections, for example, Connecticut and Maryland or Indiana and Kansas.

Kansas of course was unique in having a Republican majority in every one of the state's counties. Not this time, if Barack Obama is the candidate...

Michael Barone at RealClearPolitics, says it's time to throw out the maps. Or maybe dig out some old ones.



I'm not well, but this brought a chuckle:
To: Interested Parties

From: The Clinton Campaign

Date: Friday, February 29, 2008

RE: Obama Must-Wins

The media has anointed Barack Obama the presumptive nominee and he’s playing the part.

With an eleven state winning streak coming out of February, Senator Obama is riding a surge of momentum that has enabled him to pour unprecedented resources into Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont.

The Obama campaign and its allies are outspending us two to one in paid media and have sent more staff into the March 4 states. In fact, when all is totaled, Senator Obama and his allies have outspent Senator Clinton by a margin of $18.4 million to $9.2 million on advertising in the four states that are voting next Tuesday.

Senator Obama has campaigned hard in these states. He has spent time meeting editorial boards, courting endorsers, holding rallies, and - of course - making speeches.

If he cannot win all of these states with all this effort, there’s a problem.

Should Senator Obama fail to score decisive victories with all of the resources and effort he is bringing to bear, the message will be clear:

Democrats, the majority of whom have favored Hillary in the primary contests held to date, have their doubts about Senator Obama and are having second thoughts about him as a prospective standard-bearer.


And if you want a real chuckle, check out the comments.

And here's another I saw on Wednesday.

I'm not a Clinton adviser... but

This is not how to win friends.

Of course, if one hired people who knew what they were doing when they decided to allow 11 states to be won by Senator Barack Obama on the trot (which aren't important)...

So having lost the votes where there was an election, scraped about half the vote when there wasn't another candidate (in Florida and Michigan), and taken the super-delegates for granted to the point where some are switching, she'll get the lawyers to fix it.

No, you try and rig the election process AFTER the voters have been, not BEFORE. That way, if you win, you can save on the lawyers and goons.

And you don't grin with him in the background, the day of the funeral of a police officer who was killed escorting your motorcade.

The only way Hillary Clinton wins from here is if Barack Obama does a Vince Foster.

Why Kos prediction looks wrong

I wrote a couple of days ago that an attempt to extrapolate the result of this year's U.S. presidential election "overstates the Democratic position."
Here's why.

My radar for possible bias comes from the Hillary Clinton versus John McCain match-up.
Poblano's list of variables is comprehensive:
1. John Kerry vote margin, 2004;
2. Fundraising;
3. Percentage of Baptists, especially Southern Baptists (Obama only);
4. LDS (Mormon) voters.

Then he writes:
However, the work is not done, as there are at least three other ways in which the polling data may differ from the eventual results.

These are: Sampling error, State-specific movement and National movement.

One problem is that the mechanisms to cancel out these effects run the risk of introducing their own distortions.
But what gets me thinking this analysis is a little too convenient is the state tally.
Florida, with a 3.2% Republican majority, is the closest to being lost by McCain to give him his 299 electoral college votes (remembering that Hillary Clinton get 239). But of the 50 states plus Washington D.C., 10 have smaller majorities, and ALL are estimated to go to Senator Clinton. Which seems a little unlikely.
For the sake of comparison, in 2004, there were SEVEN states in the less than 3.2% majority, and of these, John Kerry won THREE (Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania) while George W. Bush won FOUR (Iowa, New Mexico, Ohio and Nevada). Poblano also makes the mistake of listing Iowa as Democrat in 2004, when of course it was one of the two gains by President Bush.
It seems plausible that within the margin of error of this forecast, Senator Clinton could end up losing the following states (EC votes in brackets) in order of likelyhood (most to least): Missouri (11), Ohio (20), Washington (11), Michigan (17), Pennsylvania (21), New Hampshire (4), Minnesota (10), Delaware (3), Hawaii (4) and Maine (4, although more likely a 3-1 split). This would trigger a 403-135 or 404-134 thrashing for Senator McCain over his Democratic opponent.
To me, an interesting element of this forecast, is how well McCain appears to do, even against the Obama juggernaut. Obama picks up five states, but comes close elsewhere. Even a tidal wave for "change" does not remotely, at this stage, look like a Ronald Reagan triumph in 1980 in reverse.
If the projection that Barack Obama can't win Ohio by 1% is true, how will that square with the "Bush stole Ohio" nonsense last time round, when the majority for the Republicans was 2.5%? Silly me, only Republicans steal elections...


How does this compare with last time?

A view from the Daily Kos which scrambles the data from 2004, weights it and finds that Hillary could get mashed in November, while Obama becomes the biggest Democrat winner since 1964
OK, my first impression is it overstates the Democratic party's position, by perhaps overcompensating some effects (I'll have a closer look before elaborating).
But here's the bottom line:
Barack Obama: 289 electoral college votes (and wins the popular vote by 0.9%)
John McCain: 249 ECVs
With 5,000 re-runs Obama wins 64.2% of the time, allowing for variations in the margins of error to play, for example.

Hillary Clinton: 239 electoral college votes (and loses the popular vote by 1.4%)
John McCain: 299 ECVs
With 5,000 re-runs Clinton wins 37.6% of the time.

Incidentally, if the latest crazy Democratic plan to demolish the Electoral College were applied, California's EC votes to go to the winner of the national popular vote, regardless of who wins in California, Hillary Clinton would win California in terms of votes cast, but get nothing there in terms of EC.

So the total would be:
Clinton: 184
McCain: 354

Previous attempts to lose the election next time by changing the rules to suit the last election include the very dubious 2004 Colorado proposal which would have changed the system at the same time as people voted (so they wouldn't know when they voted how these would be counted).


Not winning

Was it the U.S. Democratic party that complained about President George W. Bush's failure to balance the budget?
Perhaps this story from Hillary Clinton's "invoice challenged" campaign says something about character, integrity, financial competence, narcissism, empathy for working people, and public reputation. Or perhaps not.

It was just $2,492.63, a pittance, really, alongside million-dollar television buys and direct mail drops.

But with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s bid for the Democratic presidential nomination enduring a rough patch, Peter Semetis, the owner of a deli and catering business in Lower Manhattan, had been following the news and growing increasingly worried that he was not going to be paid for the assorted breakfast trays, coffee, tea and orange juice he had provided the campaign for an event in mid-December.

“I’m afraid of her dropping out of the campaign and me becoming a casualty,” Mr. Semetis said.

So on Thursday, he went to small claims court and filed suit. Mr. Semetis, 53, said he was hardly a political pundit but like others across the country, he had become caught up in the election in the last year and was able to offer some analysis. “There is potential for her to lose Texas,” he said — an assessment not at odds with the polls — “which would pretty much force her to quit.”

[Hat tip: Jackie D]

Good to see the New York Times join the misogynistic witch burners of the Vast-Right-Wing-Conspiracy (just like black women in South Carolina). Does anyone else wonder if there are a load of businesses in Texas about to demand C.O.D.?