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05:02 PM on 02/14/2008
Ms. Breitweister:

Your history-based analysis is literally stuck in the past. Mr. Bush's approval ratings were still at a remarkable 45-50% throughout 2004, but now they are at 27%. (Google Bush historical approval ratings, and you'll get a nice graph.)

Plus, your history-based analysis ignores the fact that the current candidates are quite unique this time around, and "history-breaking". Mr. Gore & Mr. Kerry can't compare to Mr. Obama - they were not nearly as charismatic, and obviously not inspiring enough to double Dem voter turnout in primaries, get out the youth vote, OR inspire Republicans to become "Obama Republicans". And of course, nobody EVER compared Gore, Kerry, or Clinton to JFK.

For a post titled "swing state math", your post also seems to lack a lot of numbers. In your "Not a chance list", you list KS, SC, & LA. You say Kerry only got 38% in KS. In the KS caucus (a quasi-Obama home state) and the post-Katrina LA primary, Mr. Obama got +1.5X ALL the Republicans combined. In the SC primary, total Dems beat total Republicans by 90K votes. So it is safe to say that with Obama on the ticket, these states are potentially in play... be contd
05:12 PM on 02/14/2008

A simpler general formula would be to just calculate who does better with Independents, because ALL swing states have either 1) a sizeable % of Independents, or 2) roughly equal % of Dems and Reps, so that Indies carry the swing vote.

Currently, Americans who consider themselves Democrats = 38.7%, while Republicans = 33.1%, so 29% = Independents. (
So many people think it is 50-50 and that it is just between Dems and Repubs, but that is simply not true - Independents are absolutely CRUCIAL.

In the actual 23 state-Super Tuesday results, Obama beat Clinton by 23 points among Independents. And in polls, Obama beats McCain 48-36 among Independents, while McCain beats Clinton 49-39. Clinton supporters should face the reality that Ms. Clinton is not very popular outside a minority base within the Democratic party.

It should be clear to any objective observer that Mr. Obama is more electable than Ms. Clinton.

Democrats are making a BIG mistake if they are just comparing Mr. Obama to any other 'average' Dem candidate of the past. And to put Mr. Obama with a Ms. Clinton together on a so-called "unity ticket" would be a disaster, since any Obama positives would be effectively neutralized by Clinton negatives. Mixing honey with vinegar is not a good recipe for "change".
07:03 PM on 02/14/2008
I agree and would say to readers to segue over to Gary Hart's incredible post today written en pointe.
Blogger of Lefteous Indignation
11:59 PM on 02/14/2008
Wow, well put on all fronts. I stated this too, just not as articulately. People who make these sweeping generalizations based on history make the false underlying assumption that 2004 and 2008 are guided by immutable principles. Obviously, it couldn't be further from the truth. Independents are the key, and many do like McCain still, it's true, but many like Obama. Republicans, quite a lot of them, simply won't vote or might vote for Obama in the General. The turnouts are important--the numbers of the Republicans who voted were miniscule compared to the Dems; they're disaffected and saddened that their idiot administration has screwed up so badly. So that makes independents even more critical.

Great post.
04:44 PM on 02/14/2008
Kristen, please do some more studying and then get back to us. I like how you admit how naieve you were in '04. Well, it's only 3 1/2 years later, and now you want us to listen to you as if you're some sort of guru?

Some of us were way ahead of you in '04 and have understood all about electoral maps, etc. for some time. Therefore, we have experienced listening to conventional wisdom and then have seen that conventional wisdom proven false. So, now what you are doing is feeding us conventional wisdom which you've just recently learned and trying to sell it as some almighty truth that you've discovered that most of us don't know.

Look up how many states Ronald Reagan won in 1984 and then get back to me about which states are always red and which ones are always blue. The point is that things change every few elections. In '84 there were no such thing as guaranteed blue states, yet by '96 conventional wisdom had told us that certain states (NJ, NY, CA, MA, etc..) were always going to be blue. Well if they can change that much between '84 and '96 then why can't states change significantly between '96 and '08?

Think about that before you twist yourself into a pretzel to find someway to rationalize why Obama is not really a better candidate than Hillary.
06:55 PM on 02/14/2008
I agree with Chachi. While Mr. Henry's enormous help helped you write this post, columnists at the Huffpo shouldn't experiment outside their known expertise. This is a critical time to create accurate impressions. Yes, let's make sure we clean the WH whether it's Hillary, Obama, or the Dalai Lama.
04:28 PM on 02/14/2008
If Obama gets the nomination, you are wrong, and you are wrong for the same reason so many prognosticators get it wrong. The past does not reliably predict the future. The energy behind Obama's campaign will put the red states in play. The GOP will be forced to put time and effort into defending Kansas, Montana, Arizona, even South Carolina.
This is a different ball game and you don't even recognize which ball had been thrown onto the field. Is it a football? A baseball? A volleyball?
Start paying attention, because 2008 will be like nothing we have seen before.
04:23 PM on 02/14/2008
Wow, an excellent analysis of real-world election math, and the Obamaholics call it a 'spin for Hillary" and spout Gerbil-gibberish like 'let's think big, not small.'

I'll support Obama if he wins the Democratic nod, but he's the weaker, less experienced, more evasive, more soft-spined, and definitely the most centrist/corporate, of the two democratic front runners. And a ton of his supporters are clearly stupid, mindless sheep. No wonder Oprah's endorsement spiked his numbers so.

Obama may be on the right side, but if he wins, he'll win with exactly the same mechanism that Reagan and Dubyah did...empty sloganeering. Look for far more mindless election PR in the future, because clearly, having no significant accomplishments, taking no significant stands, and just smiling through the questions, works like a charm.
05:25 PM on 02/14/2008
I don't see how one can rationally say Obama is more centrist than Hillary.

There isn't an issue out there, that I can think of, where Obama isn't as far left as can be.

Iraq war: pull out within 60 days of reaching office

Abortion: any time, no restrictions

Healthcare: universal coverage, single payer

Taxes: raise em up
06:58 PM on 02/14/2008
which is exactly why he won't be turning any RED state BLUE and neither will Hillary.
05:45 PM on 02/14/2008
"empty sloganeering"

I don't know, I'm hearing a lot of great reasons to pursue a 50-state strategy. You're the one engaging in empty sloganeering -- which, in this case, translated to angry name-calling.
08:31 PM on 02/14/2008
"Empty sloganeering" isn't "name-calling." It's a valid criticism of the lack of content about policy in Obama's speeches.
04:10 PM on 02/14/2008
New rule. Each and every person blogging on the elections should declare up front which candidate he or she is supporting. Once they get that out of the way, we'll all still be happy to read their skewed versions of electoral logic.
04:43 PM on 02/14/2008
New Rule???

yeah, and they should also declare up front, THEIR INCOME TAX RETURNS.
NY State Young Dem LGBT Caucus Chair
05:29 PM on 02/14/2008
And who they bought and shared their Cocaine with.
07:00 PM on 02/14/2008
don't you think it is possible this blogger isn't supporting one over the other which is why she suggests comparing both against McCain in the 15 swing states? she didn't say therefore Hillary or therefore Obama. She said check the numbers, do the comparisons, then make a wise choice.
04:05 PM on 02/14/2008
You feel you got this all figured based on what has happened in the past. Mainly what happened when you were following Kerry. I feel there will be a big difference between the 08 elections and elections from the past.
The approval ratings for current administration is at a record low. We are in a war people don't approve of that the republican candidate supports. New voters are coming out to be heard. And the majority of them are supporting the democrats. I think this election has the makings of a historical election and not just based on the fact it will have either the first black or the first woman running for the democratic party. I talk with Republican friends that like Obama. These same friends will vote for Obama if he is running but will stick with their party if Clinton runs. Me and my mother (a republican) argue all the time about politics. She will vote Huckubee or Obama. You could have some valid points but I think there is a new factor that you didn't include in your research. And that is people are free to vote how they feel. For so many years I have voted the lesser of two evils.
NY State Young Dem LGBT Caucus Chair
04:53 PM on 02/14/2008
To share a personal story. My grandmother has been a Republican all her life but supports Hillary Clinton in NM because of SCHIP. Does Obama get GOP votes?..yes. Does Hillary get GOP votes?..yes.
05:11 PM on 02/14/2008
Here, here. Right on the money. I do not agree with this columnist's analysis. What if Obama was a Ronald Reagan in reverse? By that I mean a democrat able to take traditionally republican states just as Ronald Reagan took traditionally democratic states in the 80s after the "stagflation" years under Carter. Look at the 1984 election especially where I believe even Massachussets voted Republican.
In Canada we had an extremely unpopular government in the early 1990s that was responsible for record debt, a recession and a constitutional crisis. The result was a near landslide victory for the Liberal party (as close as we get to a party similar to the Dems) and the eventual political extinction of the incumbent party (it no longer exists today and its successor still barely manages to poll above 33%). Voters can feel that things have gotten so bad that a "throw the bums out" movement means all of the previous electoral history is meaningless. If this recession gets very serious between now and November, I think the whole red state, blue state thing will be passé. Never underestimate the ability of economic hard times to completely change the political landscape.
05:40 PM on 02/14/2008
Speaking in broad terms:
"Red" Americans may be an ignorant, overly-religious group who are easily mislead by liars in the right-wing media, but above that, they are a greedy, greedy group. It's the economy, stupid. Bush can wipe his bum with the Constitution, lie, cheat, steal, and kill, but dammit, if he makes my 401K shrink in value, they'll be hell to pay!
03:53 PM on 02/14/2008
I agree that money and effort must be played judiciously in clear red and blue states. That said, can we agree that John Kerry was not a particularly exciting candidate? Overall, he swung just 6% of Republicans to his side in 2004, while Bush rode the terror theme to get 11% of Dems. In 2004, 40% of presumably bitter blue-state Republicans voted for Obama.

Math removes emotion and likeability from the debate. But the one mathematical thing that I think throws a wrench into your argument is that the charismatic candidate wins 100% of the time. Bush v. Kerry; Bush v. Gore; Clinton v. Dole; Clinton v. Bush I; Bush I v. Dukakis; Reagan v. Mondale; Reagan v. Carter, etc.
03:53 PM on 02/14/2008
Sorry, but you're almost as naive as you were four years ago. Let me emphasize three points.

First, don't start with the 2004 electoral map. We must think bigger. We must put more states in play. Barack Obama's victory in Virginia on Tuesday demonstrates that he can transform the map and turn Red States to Blue. We need a mandate, not a 271 electoral vote squeaker.

Second, it isn't just about the presidential election. If that president is to successfully govern, s/he must have as many Democrats as possible to support them in US Congress. IT WILL MATTER if Democrats can add a House seat from Idaho. This is particularly true in the Red and Purple states where Obama has demonstrated such strength.

Third, it's not just about winning an election, it's about building a movement that can continue to win elections for years to come. With Obama's broad geographic appeal, we can get Democratic state and local officeholders elected up and down the ticket -- even in Red and Purple states. Obama is the perfect candidate for the top of the ticket to fully realize the objectives of Howard Dean's visionary 50 state strategy.

Let's not think small, LET'S THINK BIG!
03:51 PM on 02/14/2008
Kristen, thanks for the humor. Laughed my way through this spin for Hillary piece. Nice try, but logic dictates the intervention of reality. Obama can win Independents and Republican lites, Hillary cannot do this. This determines the swing state winners, not your "Who cares if Obama wins the Idaho primary" spin. Karl Rove would love nothing better than for the Democratic Party to nominate Hillary. I want to win this time, and could care less if they're a woman or an African-American. The Republican fascism must end, or our Democracy surely will.
03:42 PM on 02/14/2008
A UNITY ticket will be suicide for the Democratic Party.

The Republicans will simply focus their attacks on Clinton, and then all the divisiveness will arise and wipe out any crossover "unity" appeal that Obama has with Independents and Republicans (both blocs which adamantly oppose her). The "change" message will not succeed if there is a status-quo Clinton on the ticket. The Obama "movement" can't move forward if half the ticket (Clinton) is stuck with the baggage, scandals, and negativity of the past.

As an Independent (ex-Democrat), I will not vote for anything with a Clinton on it, however much I support Mr. Obama.
07:09 PM on 02/14/2008
And it will be Obama, it is so clear. If I have to hand count every vote, bring it on. I betcha millions of people feel the same way. Unification means honest politics.
03:37 PM on 02/14/2008
If you wanted to look at voter turnout Dem vs Rep that would provide useful information. Dems are turning out much larger numbers of raw voters in these swing states. The only way to screw this up is to run your unity ticket. Clinton and her baggage will drag down the hope of Obama and energize the consevatives thus insuring that even with a democratic president he/she will lack the majority in congress to get anything done.
03:36 PM on 02/14/2008
In California I believe Hillary Clinton lead has shrunk to 9.3% (400,000) with over 879,000 absentee ballots still to be counted. Not to mention all the problems they had in Los Angeles with the machines.

With all this talk about Hillary getting the big states like NY, CA, and NJ, I suspect once all the votes are counted, come the beginning of March, we are going to see a lot closer margin of victory. That's is why Hillary Clinton, is hoping to bury this, with wins in Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania. SMOKE AND MIRRORS FOLKS, SMOKE AND MIRRORS.
07:12 PM on 02/14/2008
Smoke and mirrors and dynasty candidates are like old farts. Open the windows and breathe the air. Hillary is stale.
03:32 PM on 02/14/2008
Well written and important information--running for President is hardball.
One thing is missing from the analysis, however. The Unknown Factor.
Two months ago, Hillary was The Nominee. Now look.
Two months ago, Obama was Too Black, or Not Black Enough. Now look.
Inspiration is indefinable. But people know it when they see it--and hear it. And people are hungry for it.
Yes, numbers need to be crunched. But, seriously--Barack Obama is not John Kerry. And he definitely isn't John McCain.
As someone wrote recently (my apologies for forgetting the author) "Listening to McCain speak after Obama is like Lawrence Welk going on after James Brown."
Predictions has been defied over and over again so far. What would happen in a series of debates between Obama and McCain? What would people see about inspiration, vision, commitment to global change? Once again, The Unknown. In any event, a major choice, and, barring a major gaffe, not one of which anyone could possibly predict the outcome.
By the way, endless thanks to Senator Kerry for personally selecting Obama to give the now famous keynote speech at the '04 convention. Once in a while, something electrifying happens in politics. By declaring that it is time to change the conversation about Red States and Blue States, Obama did not make that breakdown go away. What he did was tap into The Unknown, and in so doing, created (and is intensely still in the process) a new context for what this country could be.
03:29 PM on 02/14/2008
Basing the Dem 2008 electoral map focus on the failed Kerry strategy sounds like a recipe for another loss.

Good luck with that.

No wonder so many people like me are leaning even more heavily in favor of Obama. He just seems more and more like a candidate that destroys the conventional wisdom and the tired, old and, most importantly, failed Democratic calculus of the last 30+ years.

The most important variable that is left out of your equation is Obama's appeal to new voters, independents and even moderate/anti-war Republicans (Barack-e-feller Republicans [MSNBC] who have been alienated by the GOP). HRC has no chance of capturing this voting block. Nobody knows if OHB will bring enough of these swing voters to the Dem side, but given the failure of traditional Dem strategists to defeat Bush twice, I'll take my chances on the new and inspirational guy doing things very differently.
03:23 PM on 02/14/2008
Respectfully, you don't get it. This is 'politics as usual' thinking. If there wasn't a new paradigm in play now Obama would be long gone. The General is going to be about New vs Old, War vs Peace, Aspirations vs Fear, Bush vs Not Bush. These are not red/blue issues. Look at the interest. Look at the turnout. Look at the crossovers. McCain will lose.
03:46 PM on 02/14/2008
Excuse me, are we living in a different country? You cannot ignore your history, this ignorance will get us nowhere. One of Obama's speechwriters is Ted Sorensen, who also was a speechwriter for JFK. JFK did not win AL, CO, ID, KS, MO, ND, or UT (to name a few) for goodness sakes, even with all the "feel good" speeches. KS and ND (off the top of my head) did not even vote for FDR. You are utterly naive to ignore these facts. This is NOT cynical, this is reality and history. Obama is a politician, NOT a movement. He is held up by Wall Street and has a questionable rise to office and past. Do not be foolish, just think.
06:24 PM on 02/14/2008
I'm assuming you actually meant to respond to my post.

It's clear from your previous posts where your priorities are. You assumed I was talking about Obama (I sure hope I was, but your assumption is interesting). My post stands regardless of who gets the nomination. Those will be the issues. If Hillary gets it she would be worse than foolish to to not immediately adopt as much of Obama's rhetoric as she was able to pull off.

To me "utterly naive" would be thinking there's a shred of relevance to political campaigns run by people who've been dead longer than almost everyone on the planet has been alive.

07:50 PM on 02/14/2008
Yep yep yep. I'm not worried about it. It's OK not to worry about it. Yesterday's gone. The Dems will win. Those who see clearly don't stay pinned under a tire.