I've found a site which is loads of fun for the whole politically divided family - 270 to Win. It has a lot of fun and informative (OK, fun if you're a political science major...) maps, charts, and displays. The most fun is a clickable national map where you can play what-if scenarios on the upcoming election.
Remember my post from a few days back? I gave a short-hand explanation of the importance of four states in the general election: Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Have fun with the map trying to construct a win for the Democrats that has only two of those states in the blue column. If the two you pick are Ohio and Florida, the win is pretty easy. Take one of those two away, and the win gets harder. You have to win Pennsylvania if you lose Florida, and you are going to risk it if you lose Pennsylvania and Ohio, but manage to hold Florida and Michigan.
What is important is what other states you have to line up if you lose Florida. Even with Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, it is possible to lose the national election. And those scenarios presume you hold the west coast and every New England state, plus West Virginia and most of the upper midwest. Dems have to hold all of the upper midwest and win New Mexico if they don't get Florida.
With the news today, it sounds like Obama has lost Florida for the Democrats in the general. Battling against seating the delegation was going to be hard to overcome, but the deliberate interference with conducting a new vote combined with the Wright mess will cost the Dems the margin of victory there. The state overwhelmingly supported Hillary, even when Obama had been running his Democrat for a Day operation since last summer and despite his heavy cable ad buys. Had he agreed to allow Florida to be seated (and fought Michigan on the basis of an incomplete ballot), the antipathy would not be so much. You win some, you lose some. Badly.
OK, now go pull up a window with that electoral map and play along. Set it to the default which shows strong Dem/Rep states in blue/red and the swing states in tan. Take a look at the Obama primary states which are firmly red: AK, ID, WY, UT, NE, KS, LA, MS, AL, GA, SC. These are not up for grabs in this electoral round. There simply aren't enough Democratic voters in those states to overcome the Republican dominance, especially as McCain is recovering from his primary battles. Hillary won the popular vote in TX, so I am counting it in her column, OK and AZ. She will not win Arizona from McCain, and she can contest Texas, which does have a sizeable Democratic population, but it is really, really unlikely she can win it. Oklahoma? Fuhgeddaboudit...
As for the Democratic states, she won CA, NY, RI, MI and MA for 119 electoral votes, and Obama won WA, MN, DC, MD, DE, HI, VT and ME for 44. Added together (and tossing in OR), either of them has a good starting point of 174 votes. I do not think it reasonable to say that either of them would lose the core Dem states, though it is possible that Maine and Michigan could defect, given that Maine ahs some strong Republican ties, and that Michigan voted Republican through Reagan and Romney might end up on the Republican ticket. With Obama at the top of the ticket, especially if Romney is the Rep VP, we could lose Michigan.
OK, now we get to do electoral math.
Illinois will go Democrat, regardless of the nominee. If Obama is the nominee, we lose Florida. Period. If Hillary is the nominee, it is possibly in our column. With a Florida win, Dems are over 200. With a Florida loss, we're two ahead. Let's stick with a Florida loss as that is the most statistically likely, regardless of Dem nominee. That means we must win Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Colorado is going to go McCain. Let's give him NH, too, given its voting history. It's now 195/189, D/R.
NV to McCain and NM to Dem., for no added advantage to either side, 200/194. The Dems hold a slim, 6 vote lead.
WI, NJ and CT go blue. It's now 232/194.
At this point, there are 59 winning vote combinations for the Dems and 36 winning combinations for the Reps. Also, at this point, we have almost run out of states where Obama did well. He has Iowa, where his "blowout" in the caucuses needs to be taken with a big grain of salt due to the nature of caucuses, and Virginia, where heavy black turnout gave him a big win, but where he lost the western counties. Remember me telling you that geography is important? We'll be getting to that.
McCain will win Virginia and North Carolina regardless of the Dem nominee. We are now 232/222.
Iowa will go Dem, regardless of nominee. Hillary is stronger there than you think. 239/222.
This leaves MO, AR, OH, PA, KY and TN. There's also WV, which really should be considered a swing state.
Hillary could win them all, and will win OH, PA and AR, and will flip WV back to the Dem column. 291/247 and the Dems win. If she takes back Tennessee and Kentucky, last won by Bill, it's 310/228. Hillary is immensely popular with white, working class voters in both those states. If she takes Missouri, also last won by Bill, we are at a Dem victory of 321/217. Given the way voters, especially white, female working class voters, turned out in these states for her, I think her chances are very, very good. If she squeaks out Florida, and I think her unwavering committment to the Dem voters there is going to give her a boost, we're talking 348/190. Almost a repeat of Bill Clinton in 1996, and for pretty much the same reasons.
On the other hand, Obama might win PA. 260/278 and the Dems lose. I personally think he won't hold Pennsylvania, and the electoral outcome will be 239/299. Toss in a Michigan loss due to Romney on the Rep ticket and it is 222/316.
Why do I think he loses the states above that Hillary wins? Look at the counties he loses in those states (use the NYTimes site, good county maps). Put the maps togther and you see that he loses the Appalachian counties and the rural white vote. These states, the border swing states, are where he is weakest, weaker than either Hillary or McCain. He was not popular in the Ohio counties where Kerry lost the last election and where Bill and Hillary are popular. He lost the rural white vote in Missouri to Hillary and would lose it again to McCain. Ditto Tennessee. Kentucky will be like Tennessee and southern Ohio. West Virginia is smack dab in the center of that region that isn't that into him - if he isn't popular in Ohio, western Virgina and Tennessee, he won't have any strength in WV.
In short, Obama wins the same states as John Kerry in 2004, plus New Mexico, while Hillary wins all of those states, plus most of what Bill won in his two elections.
That is how the electoral math works out. A super-double-plus-bad economy knocks the wind out of St. John's sails, and people tune out the right wing noise machine on Hillary because yadda-yadda, they've heard it all before. If anything, they get offended on her behalf. No new dirt, no claims of anti-Americanism, no questioning of her loyalty to the nation, plus she will pull the Hispanic vote in, plus she stands to bring out a lot of cross-over female Republican votes. The Democratic core has already voted to support her, even in the contests she has lost.
Obama gets bupkiss outside of the die-hard party loyalists, plus he has to deal with significant defections from angry Hillary voters who will not regard his nomination as legitimate, plus he has to deal with the specter of Rev. Wright (and now we know why the Republicans have been pushing his nomination so hard, don't we?). Hillary supporter protest voters could be as high as 15%, well over the margin of victory in swing states where the bulk of them are located.
In a one-day, 50-state election, Hillary wins all the Dem base and expands it back into Clinton territory. And that's a good thing.