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Monday, February 11, 2008
Is Senator Obama The Most Electable Democrat?

You didn't hear it from me:

It's not a pretty picture for the Democrats. But the main thing is that Washington, Louisiana and Nebraska account for only 25 electoral votes between them, fewer than the state of Florida all by itself, and two of them (Nebraska and Louisiana) voted solidly for George Bush in 2005 -- meaning they are hardly bellweathers for Democratic candidates.

Nobody would be better pleased than me to see Obama showing great strength (in a prior post I said I hope he gets the nomination as he seems like a softer target for McCain), but it's simply stupid to say he's doing that, and in fact all Obama really accomplished over the weekend was just to win largely insignificant Washington State, which voted Democratic in 2004. As the map clearly shows, the states that really matter to Democrats in the actual election contest against the Republicans are California, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts and Michigan. Clinton has prevailed in every single one of these states to have been contested so far except for Illinois -- and that's Obama's home turf. The only one left is Pennsylvania, which doesn't hold its primary until April 22.

In other words, if Obama does somehow manage to become the nominee, the Democrats may well turn out to have pulled a Dukakis (Mondale, McGovern) once again. They'll be sending the candidate who lost in their primaries all the states they must win in the general election, and the one utterly without a resume, to do battle against the party that has dominated presidential election contests since World War II and a candidate who is a legitimate national hero.

Vis a vis the electoral map, here are the additional states that Clinton puts into play that Bush won in 2004: New Mexico*, Arizona+, Arkansas, Iowa*, Florida+, Missouri* and Nevada
(*indicate states that Obama also puts into play)

So, to sum it up: Sen. Clinton, assuming that all of the blue states stay blue, puts the following states into play at the presidential level (electoral votes in parentheses): New Mexico (5), Arkansas (6), Iowa (7), Florida (27), Missouri (11), and Nevada (5). Given the slim margins of the 2000 and 2004 races, this represents a significant amount of votes. Regarding the House of Representatives and the Senate, Clinton's coattails should put the following states in play: New Mexico, Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Florida, Missouri, Pennsylvania, California, Michigan, and Nevada. (I can get a list of vacant seats in the House and Senate from somewhere as well.) We don't yet know about Ohio or Pennsylvania yet, but Gov. Ed Rendell (PA) has endorsed her.

+If John McCain chooses Gov. Crist as his running mate, then Florida could be more of a toss-up and makes the Latino and African-American vote more important. (Bush took 40% of the Latino vote in 2004.) John McCain is also the Senator from Arizona.

Since everyone believes that blue states will stay blue, then Clinton's ability to peel off a few red states from Bush 2004 coalition gives her the election by a comfortable margin in the 2008 electoral college.