Friday, February 15, 2008

There is No National Election

Get that through your skulls, Hillary and Barry supporters alike. That is a profound misconception. If there was a national election, with the citizen's choices equally weighed, we would be celebrating the second term of President Gore right now. Of course, that also means we'd be looking at an election pitting Joe Lieberman against John McCain, so maybe it's best not to go too far with that particular thought.

We have a general election which is simply the simultaneous votes of 50 states, plus districts, territories and protectorates. No one can take a national poll result and extrapolate it to mean something definite. That simply measures a general sense of the nation, not who is scoring better with electoral votes. Each individual state has to be examined for both demography and geography. That's one of the reasons I have been searching the exit polls and also the New York Times county breakdown maps. Examining the maps tells stories about the locations of the people doing the voting and how they shake out.

Hillary's success in large primary states is not simply that they are primaries, though that helps. Look at the maps of the southern and border states - Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, South Carolina and Florida. Look at how the counties align for who wins which area. Look at South Carolina and see the counties where Obama won because Edwards and Clinton split the vote. Look into Missouri and see the few places where Clinton did not win majorities. Look at patterns of voting in the places where the vote in the General will be most contested, which includes border states Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Who is going to hold voters in those states and why? Where will McCain be most problematic?

What states will simply not be in play for the Democrats? They are going to be the states of the inter-mountain West most certainly: Idaho, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Nevada and Arizona. New Mexico may be in play. With HRC, I think we can get Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri, given strong turn out. With The Golden one, not a chance, though Virginia becomes a faint possibility. Given the dissing of Florida, I don't think Barry can carry it. I think Hillary has a chance. There is no solid blue state that Barry has won that she cannot also win in the General, while I think she is more likely to bring in swing states than he can. Many of his caucus win states (Idaho, Kansas) are simply not possibilities this round, especially with how feckless the Dem Congress has been lately. The deep south? Fuhgeddaboudit.

The ability to win small caucus states, with combined turnouts lower than Florida or California, in red parts of the country where the structure of the caucus itself over-represents The Golden One's constituencies says zero about viability in those same states come November. General primary states are a better measure, once you control for ethnicity and class, because they have the lowest barrier to entry and thus have a greater sample of representative voters.



Anonymous said...

I think it's clear that Senator Clinton can win the States needed to win in the General Election. And if it was Obama/McCain I think McCain would win California because he would get the independent votes. I also think it is Hillary that is the one bringing out the large amount of voters. I think that would continue in the GE. Again, if it's Obama/McCain, I don't see Obama getting the huge voter turnout that would be needed. His base is too small and I think he's alienated a huge voting block . . .women.

1950 Democrat said...

I'm not much on numbers, but I see quite a few comments around to the effect of "Hang all the superdelegates and delegates both! Just use the total popular vote." I suppose what they mean is, the superdelegates and other unpledged delegates should pledge to go with the total national popular vote this time.

It's sort of an attractive idea -- no need to worry about FL and MI if we ignore ALL delegates. But if we threw all the voters into the pot together, each caucus-goer counting no more than each primary-voter ... is this something we shouldn't be discussing publically? Quick, delete before reading!