29 April 2008

Which one can WIN for us?

Much attention has recently been given to a startling new AP-Ipsos poll showing Hillary Clinton defeating John McCain by the robust margin of 50%-41%, while Barack Obama beats him by a mere 46%-44% -- a statistical tie. Less attention has been given to a matter of vastly more practical significance: the geographical distribution of votes in each case, and the effects thereof upon the all-important Electoral College.

270 electoral votes are needed to attain the Presidency. In an Obama-McCain contest, Obama trails McCain by 243 electoral votes to 269, with 26 electoral votes (those of North Carolina and Indiana) too close to call. In a Clinton-McCain contest, Clinton crushes McCain, 291-247.

Of course I know that polls six months before election day are not predictive in detail. But these maps reveal an underlying reality which is highly unlikely to change. The demographic groups who strongly prefer Clinton over Obama include the white working-class voters who are heavily concentrated in large swing states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Missouri -- as well as Jewish and Hispanic voters, who are a major factor in Florida. Obama badly alienates these voters, many of whom would be open to the appeal of a candidate like McCain if Obama were the Democratic nominee. Obama's strongest supporters, by contrast, would reduce McCain's margin of victory in a number of red states, but this would have no practical effect in the Electoral College.

Look again at the AP-Ipsos poll. 21% of Obama supporters say they would vote for McCain over Clinton if she were nominated -- but 30% of Clinton supporters say that they would do the same if Obama were to be chosen. In reality, both of these figures would doubtless shrink in the real election; just as conservatives with severe misgivings about McCain rallied around him after the New York Times published an ill-considered hit piece focusing on his connections with lobbyists, so liberals would rally around the eventual Democratic nominee once he or she was chosen and came under concerted Republican attack. But Obama would have a more difficult task reunifying the party than Clinton would.

I've already detailed why I think Clinton would make the better President. Since then, Obama has been hobbled by the Wright issue and by his gaffe about working-class people "clinging" to their values out of despair (and who knows how many more such gaffes he might make in six months?). Clinton is now clearly emerging as more electable against McCain, while the Democratic popular vote is essentially tied. In every respect she is the superior candidate. This reality may be dawning on the party rank and file at last; this SUSA poll shows Obama's once-commanding lead over Clinton in North Carolina reduced to a mere five percentage points.

Let's hope our superdelegates prove equally wise.



Blogger handmaiden said...

Unlike you I don't feel capable of analyzing it all. So far you have been doing a good job of it. I'm just hoping in the long run voters realize which side their bread is buttered on after the Democrat nominee is decided upon.

I say that because of the crap I keep hearing about no matter who you vote for doesn't make any difference. One consolation I suppose is most of these people probably won't bother anyway.

01 May, 2008 09:12  

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