Democratic Electoral Shift In November?

[ Posted Monday, February 18th, 2008 – 17:22 UTC ]

Professional pundits like conventional wisdom. It's comfortable for them to say what "everyone knows" with the voice of authority. But, seeing how often this so-called "wisdom" has been wrong already this year, one can't help but wonder about yet another pillar of political wisdom: that there are only so many "battleground" states in play this year, and that the red/blue electoral map from the last two elections will generally stay the same this time around. Because there is a good chance that this may be wrong, too.

Political commentators draw their maps slightly differently, but always on the same premise: that there are a certain number of "safe" Republican states, a certain number of "safe" Democratic states, and only a few "purple" states in the middle, where the fight for the White House will largely take place. States like Florida and Ohio.

But what if, this time around, Democrats picked up some states nobody is even watching in November? I think there's a good chance that no matter who the Democratic candidate is, the possibility exists of turning some very red states blue.

Now, I'm not betting the farm that this is the way it's going to play out, mind you. But I do think the chances this year of radically repainting the electoral map of the United States are higher than they've been since Ronald Reagan's time.

Allow me to explain.

First, some data from the primaries this year. This is percentage of the total primary vote in the following states, by party:

67% Dem. / 33% Rep. -- Virginia

53% Dem. / 47% Rep. -- Tennessee

54% Dem. / 46% Rep. -- South Carolina

52% Dem. / 48% Rep. -- Georgia

49% Dem. / 51% Rep. -- Alabama

70% Dem. / 30% Rep. -- Louisiana

58% Dem. / 42% Rep. -- Arkansas

[Raw data is from CNN's website. Click on each state's name to see vote totals.]

Of seven southern states that have voted (in both parties), the overall turnout is 56% Democratic and 44% Republican. And that ain't just whistlin' Dixie!

The reason this should be considered astonishing is that this is supposed to be a Republican bastion. In fact, GOP voters only had a higher turnout in one state (Alabama) and that by the thinnest of margins.

These votes were all taken when both races were still extremely competitive, it should be noted. Most voted on Super Tuesday, when there were still at least three viable Republican candidates and two Democrats still in the race. So neither race had already been decided in either party for these votes (with the possible exception of Virginia Republicans, who voted when McCain was clearly the frontrunner).

Now, these numbers aren't going to accurately reflect votes in the general election. More people vote in November than in the primaries in just about every state, for instance. But they do measure a certain amount of enthusiasm for the Democrats which seems to be lacking among Republican voters this year. In deep red states. Bush won all of these states in both 2000 and 2004.

Part of this is enthusiasm for the candidates in the race on the Democratic side. But part of it also is the enormous turnout of African-Americans across the South. While Hillary won two of these states, Obama won five -- including the two with the biggest margins between the parties, Virginia and Louisiana. These are also mostly Huckabee states on the Republican side. Meaning voters may not be all that enthusiastic about voting for McCain come November.

Could Obama win two or three of these states -- or even more? Could he even sweep a large chunk of the South? Barack Obama would definitely have a better chance of picking up electoral votes here than Hillary Clinton.

But, to be fair, in Clinton's favor is the fact that she could be a big draw in the Mountain West. She has done extremely well among Latino voters, who are becoming a larger and larger force in the national electorate and is even more pronounced in states like Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. Data for these states is harder to read, for various reasons (caucuses instead of primaries, and some states haven't voted yet). So it's harder to draw any conclusions or spot any trends here. But Colorado voted 68% Democratic and 32% Republican in their primary, which is a pretty large margin (better than two-to-one).

So there's ample opportunity for the Democratic nominee to possibly capture some of the Mountain West states this November as well. And Hillary Clinton seems well-positioned to reap a lot of those votes. But Obama has a chance of picking these votes up as well, perhaps a better chance of doing so that Hillary would have in the South.

But whoever the Democratic nominee is, we may be looking at a radically different electoral map this November. And wouldn't it be nice to see a map that's more blue than red for a change?


My Tuesday Primary Picks

[Because tomorrow's another primary day, we also have a bonus section with primary picks for tomorrow's contests in Wisconsin and Hawai'i]

Well, I have to say I did pretty good with last week's primary picks! For the first time, I got a perfect six for six, calling every race correctly. This has improved my overall score to 62% correct for Democrats, and a whopping 71% right for the Republicans.

For tomorrow, there are so few primaries they didn't even come up with a cute "Something Tuesday" name for it. Both parties vote in Wisconsin, but only Democrats will vote tomorrow in Hawai'i. Which means only three contests to call.

On the Republican side, I'm going to go out on a limb and call the race for John McCain. Although I have been accused of padding my correct picks totals with McCain now that he has a virtual lock on the nomination, he still has not won yet and Huckabee shows no signs of quitting. Until either of those happens, I'll keep predicting the races.

Hawai'i Democrats will overwhelmingly vote for Obama. Something people in states like Virginia or New York don't really understand is that there are a lot of United States which have never seen a "favorite son" of theirs make it to the White House. Barack was born in Hawai'i, and will carry the state both here in the caucuses, and during the general election in November as well.

Wisconsin is going to be close, and Hillary could really use a win here to stop Barack's momentum. Because the voting is likely to be close, neither one of them will pick up an overwhelming lead in delegates here, but a psychological victory for Clinton would do a lot to stop the perception that "she hasn't won anything in a while." Unfortunately for her, I predict Obama will win here, by five points or so. This will make ten victories in a row for Obama, which will help him out in the uphill climb he's going to have for Texas and Ohio next month. So once again, I predict Obama's going to have a pretty good Tuesday night.

Total correct Democratic picks so far: 26 for 42.
Total correct Republican picks so far: 32 for 45.
Total overall correct picks: 58 for 87 -- 67%.

Those are my picks, what are yours?


[Previous states' picks:]

[AK] [AL] [AR] [AZ] [CA] [CO] [CT] [DE] [FL (R)] [GA] [IA] [ID (D)] [IL] [KS (D)] [KS (R)] [LA] [MA] [MD] [ME (D)] [MI (R)] [MN] [MO] [MT (R)] [ND] [NE (D)] [NH] [NJ] [NM (D)] [NV] [NY] [OK] [SC (D)] [SC (R)] [TN] [UT] [VA] [WA] [WV (R)] [Washington, D.C.] [Virgin Islands (D)]


Cross-posted at The Huffington Post


-- Chris Weigant


2 Comments on “Democratic Electoral Shift In November?”

  1. [1] 
    Michale wrote:

    If that actually comes about, I think you are probably looking at practically every state in the Union going red and there will be very little blue in the country at all..


  2. [2] 
    Michale wrote:

    What is it about, "it's over" does Clinton not understand???

    Ya know how Obama can clinch the nomination **AND** the general Election??

    Publicly state that, if elected President, he will make John McCain his Secretary Of Defense...


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