Tag Archives: Expanding the Map

Expanding the Map, Part 4

Obama really is going to be playing in all 50 states. Burnt Orange Report says that David Axelrod has promised there will be 15 paid Obama staffers working in the state. As Ben Smith says:

That, plus, spending of, say, $10 million on ads — as somebody speculated yesterday, and I can’t find the link — would give McCain a real choice: Ignore Texas on the overwhelming probability that it stays red; or risk that Obama steals on. Now multiply that by 10 red states, and it’s a major feature of the general.

That’s a dilemma that John McCain is going to face all over the place. There are polls showing close races in Georgia, Alaska and a ton of other supposedly “red” states. How will McCain spend his limited resources? Will he play defense in probably red states and risk losing one of the big swing states by not spending as much? Or will he ignore the probably red states and go for broke in the traditional swing states, yet risk Obama sneaking through in a Georgia and ending McCain’s hopes right there? It an impossible choice for McCain.

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Expanding the Map, Part 3

One of the potential benefits to Republicans of John McCain’s candidacy was supposed to be his appeal to Hispanic voters. After the GOP has spent much of the last 4 years trying their hardest to alienate the fastest growing block of voters in the country, McCain was supposed to be able to reach out to Hispanics thanks to his work on immigration reform.

However, based of Gallup’s daily tracking polls from May, that doesn’t appear to be the case. McCain is losing to Obama 62-29 among Hispanics, which dwarfs the 53-44 loss among Hispanics that Bush suffered in 2004. If McCain loses Hispanics that badly Obama would easily win states like Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado, with large Hispanic populations.

Even Texas could become close, depending on how much effort Obama puts into registration and turnout efforts in the Hispanic community. In 2008, Hispanics made up 32 percent of Texas Democratic primary electorate, compared to 24 percent in 2004. A similar increase in turnout in the general, if they continue to swing towards Obama by a 60-30 margin or so, could make Texas very close. That might not seem possible, given how big a margin Bush won Texas by in 2004 (61-38), but it is.

In 2004 Whites made up 66 percent of the Texas turnout, going for Bush 74-25. African-Americans made up 12 percent and went for Kerry 83-17. Latinos were 20 percent and went to Kerry 50-49. Bush also got a significant bump in Texas seeing as how he was the Governor of the state before he was President. Playing with the assumptions a little the state could easily be at least competitive.

Here’s what would need to happen to get a tied race out of Texas. First off, Latinos continue to go for 2 out of 3 for Obama, and increase their share of the electorate by 7 points to 27 percent. Secondly, Obama takes the Black vote 95-5 and there is a turnout bump there as well, to 14 percent of the electorate. Lastly, Whites don’t go as heavily for McCain as they did for the Texan Bush. Assigning McCain the same margin among White voters as Kay Bailey Hutchinson in her blowout Senate win in 2006, 68-30 and reducing the White share of the vote to 57 percent, which makes up for the increased Black and Latino turnout, you get a 49-49 tie in the state overall. Now, that scenario isn’t likely to happen. That big an increase in Hispanic turnout is very unlikely and Whites only making up 57 percent of the Texas electorate is probably even more unlikely, but a 60-24-14 turnout model would still yield a very competitive 50-48 race. Even the 2004 electorate would yield a 53-45 election.

Will Texas be competitive? Likely not. But it could be at least a marginal state if Obama is able to maintain his current support among Latinos and increase their turnout percentage, Texas is exactly the type of state that McCain could be forced to make a very tough decision about whether to spend time and money there or not.

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Expanding the Map, Part 2

One other way to look at expanding the map. The chart above is from FiveThrityEight, mapping how Obama is doing relative to how Kerry did against Bush. The states that McCain is doing better than Bush in are, for the most part, either Republican base states like Kentucky and Tennessee or Democratic base states, like New York and Massachusetts. Obama is drastically overperforming Kerry in the West and the South and is holding steady with Kerry in the big swing states. It will be interesting to see how this develops, but this is but one way to look at how Obama can expand the map.

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Expanding the Map

One of Barack Obama’s real advantages over John McCain is his ability to pour his incredible amount of money into states that haven’t seen real Democratic Presidential campaigns in ages.

Battleground states with lots of electoral votes will continue to draw enormous attention and resources from both sides. This much won’t change. But Obama will have the money to compete in key “purple” states and traditionally “red” states Dems would otherwise be inclined to ignore.

McCain may be looking at the map and think a state like North Carolina is an easy win. And maybe it will be. But when the polls show the state competitive, and Obama starts pumping quite a bit of money into the state, will McCain keep up? Will he gamble? If he decides he can’t take the risk, which state will suddenly get less money?

John McCain is going to be forced to run his campaign on a relatively shoestring budget. He’ll have about $85 million for the general election, but Obama could easily raise triple that. Obviously, there’s a limit to the effectiveness of TV ads in a general election, but what if Obama decides to spend $30 million registering, identifying and turning out Democratic voters in a state like North Carolina, which is “red” in Presidential politics but where Democrats have faired well in state and local elections. Or what if he dumps that $30 million into Texas, registering Latino voters and reactivating the incredible machine he built for the Democratic Primary and Caucus in March? Or what if he uses the money to make sure that every voter in Florida knows that McCain opposes a national hurricane insurance fund and voted against cleaning up the Everglades? How can McCain respond to that?

The other factor that will allow Obama to significantly expand the map is the presence of Bob Barr in the race. Barr is already polling well in states like North and South Carolina where Obama could already have been marginally competitive. Add to that the fact that in Georgia, Barr’s home state and where he polls the best at the moment, the Obama campaign plans to register half a million new black voters who have never showed up before. In 2004 Kerry lost to Bush by only 550,000 or so votes in Georgia, with the Libertarian candidate only taking about 20,000 votes. If I were McCain I’d be very frightened by those numbers. Barr could also do well in states with preexisting libertarian leanings, like the Mountain West and Southwest, plus Alaska. If McCain has to compete there, how much can he throw into the big swing states like Florida, Ohio and Virginia?


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