Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Can Either Democrat Win in November .. That Is The Question.

As expected, Barack Obama won the North Carolina Democratic Primary Election decisively while Hillary Clinton won an extremely close contest in Indiana.

The chief issue was the economy, of course. People think with their pocketbooks.

Has this changed anything in the democratic race to the nomination? Not really. This is still boiling down to a decision by the super-delegates.

Can either Clinton or Obama win either of these solidly red states in November? Now that's the real question, isn't it?

Just a reminder to anyone who has forgotten the 2004 Presidential Election here's a copy of that wonderful red state/blue state map courtesy of Michael Gastner, Cosma Shalizi, and Mark Newman of the University of Michigan

Note that both North Carolina and Indiana are red (Republican) states. In fact, look at just how many states were red states in 2004. Of course, as Gastner, Shalizi and Newman point out, the above map is slightly deceiving. The state count is not as significant as the state's populations.

"The cartogram ( above) reveals what we know already from the news: that the country was actually very evenly divided by the vote, rather than being dominated by one side or the other.

The presidential election is not decided on the basis of the number of people who vote each way, however, but on the basis of the electoral college. Each state contributes a certain number of electors to the electoral college, who vote according to the majority in their state. The candidate receiving a majority of the votes in the electoral college wins the election. The electoral votes are apportioned roughly according to states' populations, as measured by the census, but with a small but deliberate bias in favor of smaller states.

We can represent the effects of the electoral college by scaling the sizes of states to be proportional to their number of electoral votes, which gives a map that looks like this:

This was the political world ( circa Nov. 2004) based on population. Stunningly, different to say the least.

Why drag out these maps?

Because in order for the Democrats to win in November 2008 they have to win all of the blue states that they won in 2004 ( incl. Michigan) and win either Ohio and Florida.

Aaahhh, Florida. That large chunk of the above map in the southeastern corner.

Notorious Florida.

  • The state that many believe was stolen in 2000 by the Supreme Court.
  • The state that many believe was stolen by the use of caging techniques in 2004.
  • And now, the state that hasn't had it's votes counted in the Democratic Presidential Primary campaign because the Republican state officials moved up their primary and the DNC is punishing them for it.

Florida looms large again.

Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have to convince the super delegates that they can win in November. And both Democratic candidates have to convince the Democratic and Independent electorate to support them and turn out to the polls.

Obama can clearly make the case that he leads in the Democratic Primary popular and delegate vote count. He can also make the case that he has gained notable support from Independents and Republicans who voted in the Democratic primaries in solidly red states like North and South Carolina, Mississippi, and Alabama. But can he deliver these states in November. Will his strength in the African American community swing the vote in those Southern states? Will the Republicans who voted for Obama in the primaries vote for him in November or were they playing some kind of Limbaugh-esque political game to skew the primaries?

Clinton has clearly won the majority of the solidly blue states like New York, Pennsylvania and California. She also won in Ohio. But can she deliver Ohio in November and will the African American vote turn out to support her. And, can she garner any support from the Independents and Republicans who are ready for change?

And lest we forget, what will Michigan and Florida do?

The mainstream media pundits and the DNC are crying for Hillary Clinton to drop out of the race. Yet, if they're sure that the Democrats, as Bob Shrum would say, won't "find a way to lose the un-loseable election" then will someone please explain it to me.

I want to believe that America is not a nation of red states and blue states. There are certainly enough non-partisan issues that will demand the next President and Congress' attention. However, with a media that focuses thousands of hours on Rev. Jeremiah Wright and does its best to avoid covering the Pentagon Pundit scandal, I the American electorate being herded down the same red/blue path again.

In case you missed it here's a clip from Barack Obama's speech in NC

Hillary Clinton addresses a crowd in Indiana

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