Monday, January 7, 2008

Breaking Down The Battlegrounds

At this time, the current electoral landscape looks as follows...

Republicans - 142 electoral votes from 18 states are safe.
(Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina)

Democrats - 211 electoral votes from 14 states and D.C. are safe.
(Hawaii, California, D.C., Washington, Oregon, Illinois, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine)

That leaves 179 electoral votes and 18 states still considered "swing" or "battleground" states. Lets take a look at them from a generic "Republican vs. Democrat" standpoint.

Arkansas - Went for Clinton in 92 and 96 (for obvious reasons), Bush in 2000 and 04. Although Democrats control the Governor's mansion and the State Legislature, most pundits agree that the Democrats in Arkansas are much more conservative than the national party. Given the fact that no Dem candidate is from the state, and the "red" swing of the state in presidential elections, I'd say that this state is Republican-leaning. (6 electoral votes)

Colorado - Used to be a GOP stronghold, but Democratic politicians have made big gains here. The DNC is holding it's national convention in Denver this year, as to attract swing voters. However, the strong sentiments against illegal immigration and the generally conservative stance of the state's residents on 2nd Amendment rights and social issues may tip this state to the GOP. Slightly Republican-leaning. (9 electoral votes)

Florida - The point of contention in 2000, but went to Bush by a wider margin in 2004. The large Hispanic population would normally work against the Republicans, except a large portion of them are Cubans, who vote Republican. Also, Governor Charlie Crist is very popular in this state, and while it will be close, I'd put this state down as Republican-leaning. (27 electoral votes)

Indiana - Like Colorado, the GOP once counted on this state as a solid Republican state. However, they suffer from an unpopular Republican governor and a somewhat-stagnant state economy. However, the state has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964. This state is officially a Toss-Up. (11 electoral votes)

Iowa - The Hawkeye State has swung back and forth over the past few elections. Democrats have made impressive gains as of late in the state legislature, governor's mansion, and House of Representatives. Despite the large rural population and socially conservative base within the state, I believe Iowa may trend blue this election. Slightly Democratic-leaning. (7 electoral votes)

Kentucky - Democrats picked up the Governor's mansion a few months ago, but this state still is representated by Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning in the U.S. Senate, and with the job McConnell has done by being a stand-up minority leader in the Senate, the Republicans will get plenty of support here. Republican-leaning. (8 electoral votes)

Michigan - A Democratic stronghold in previous years, but the severe increase in unpopularity amongst state Democrats (especially Governor Jennifer Granholm, at 32% last month) makes this state competitive for the Republicans, especially with the large amount of time Mitt Romney has spent campaigning in the state (which has been otherwise ignored up to this point). However, the Northern Peninsula is very leftward leaning and so is the city of Detroit, which should keep the state as Democratic-leaning. (17 electoral votes)

Minnesota - A tradition of leaning-leftward has moderated itself lately. The election of Senator Norm Coleman in 2003, the re-election of Governor Tim Pawlenty in 2006, and the fact that the GOP is holding it's national convention in St. Paul makes Minnesota a key battleground state where a surprise could take place. Another key fact is the conservative shift that has taken place in Minneapolis/St. Paul and it's suburbs. This state is an official toss-up. (10 electoral votes)

Missouri - The bellweather state of the nation, or so they say, as the state has voted for the eventual winner of every presidential election an astounding 96% of the time. The state went for Bush in 2000 and 2004, but elected Claire McCaskill to the Senate in 2006, although her approval/disapproval rate is pretty evenly split, as well. The mood in the state is a very split one, and that makes the "Show-Me" state a toss-up. (11 electoral votes)

Nevada - Usually a Republican-leaning state in presidential elections, it is also home to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and and very unpopular governor in Jim Gibbons (whose approval rating is under 30%). While Reid is a very powerful figure in Washington, he's carrying a "disapproval" rating of 51% in his home state. Nevada just seems very discontent with their politicians right now. The winner of this state will not hinge on party lines, but on which candidates are nominated. That makes Nevada a toss-up. (5 electoral votes)

New Hampshire - Reverse situation of Arkansas. A formerly Republican state that went Bush in 2000 and Kerry in 2004. While the Republicans are the slightly more-powerful party in New Hampshire, they tend to be more liberal than the national GOP stance. Given the independent nature of the state, I think only one or two GOP candidates have a chance to win here. I'm going to go with a Slight Democratic-Lean here. (4 electoral votes)

New Mexico - Bill Richardson is Governor here, the state's Congressional representation slightly leans Republican overall, and this state went Gore in 2000 and Bush in 04, but both elections were narrowly contested. Both parties will be pushing hard in New Mexico, as popular Senator Pete Domenici is retiring, and his seat will be up for grabs in the 2008 election. While the Democrats are pushing for capturing more states in the West, New Mexico is the only Western state that can be classified as a Democratic-Lean. (5 electoral votes)

Ohio - The state that gave Bush the election in 2004, Ohio is once again in play this time around. The state elected a Democratic Governor and Senator in 2006. However, the election of Bob Latta in the 5th Congressional District special election, where the Democrats had made heavy investments, proves that the GOP is still very much alive and well in the state. Right now, given their recent victory and the general demographics and viewpoints of the state's voters, Ohio ranks as a Slight Republican-Lean. (20 electoral votes)

Tennessee - If Fred Thompson is on the ballot, the GOP wins easily as he is stomping the Democrats in head-to-head matchup polls within the state by margins of 10-15 points. Otherwise it's pretty much a toss-up. The state went to Clinton in 92 and 96, and Bush in 00 and 04. Outside of a Thompson candidacy, the vote will be pretty close, but should still remain a Republican-Lean. (11 electoral votes)

Virginia - Despite the election of Kaine/Webb/2007 State Senate in recent years, presidential elections are a different thing. Unlike conventional wisdom that says that a strong Dem candidate will help those downballot, Mark Warner's Senate run will help the Dem candidate upballot. The election of Rob Wittman in the 1st Congressional District special election, and the fact that Tidewater Dems won on mostly centrist or moderate platforms means that the Dem gains do not help the generally more liberal presidential nominees. It won't be easy, nor will it be a blowout, but this state is still a Republican-Lean. (13 electoral votes)

West Virginia - Once a solid-blue state due to the strong labor union presence in the coal mines, this state went for Bush in 2000 and 2004, a lot of which was due to Al Gore's complete blowoff of the miners during his campaign. The growing environmentalist presence within the Democratic Party does not help, as there is an anti-coal activism that undermines the purpose of the miner's employment. However, the strong labor union presence could offset this for the Dems. That makes "Wild and Wonderful" West Virginia a truly "Wild and Wonderful" toss-up. (5 electoral votes)

Wisconsin - Went to Gore in 2000 and Kerry in 2004, but by very close margins in both elections. Many believe that, much like neighboring Minnesota, the GOP has a good opportunity to snatch up this state. However, the state also is steeped in "Progressive" history, being the home state of Robert LaFollette. Also, the state has a largely Democratic delegation to Congress as well as within the state. That leaves this state as a Slight Democratic-Lean. (10 electoral votes)

Final Tally

Republicans - 148 safe + 94 Lean = 242 Electoral votes (Total States = 25)
Democrats - 211 safe + 43 Lean = 254 Electoral votes (Total States = 20 + DC)
Toss-Up = 42 Electoral votes (5 states)

This is where things get really interesting in this scenario...5 states decide the vote in a generic ballot. The Dems need 16 electoral votes to win, the Republicans need 28. 4 of the 5 states have voted for Bush most recently (or 32 of the 42 toss up electoral votes, if you look at it that way). Unless something drastic happens, this will be a very close election either way.

Looks like it's going to be a long, hot summer and a very brutal fall in the battleground states.


LP said...

For what it's worth, both the state House and Senate here in New Mexico have been solidly Democratic forever.

Phil Chroniger said...

Excellent point, that's one of the reasons why I keep it as a Dem lean...even though it has voted Republican in the past.