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Electoral College Strategy for 2008 Dirksen Congressional Center August 1, 2007 Thomas F. Schaller University of Maryland, Baltimore County Author, Whistling.

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Presentation on theme: "Electoral College Strategy for 2008 Dirksen Congressional Center August 1, 2007 Thomas F. Schaller University of Maryland, Baltimore County Author, Whistling."— Presentation transcript:

1 Electoral College Strategy for 2008 Dirksen Congressional Center August 1, 2007 Thomas F. Schaller University of Maryland, Baltimore County Author, Whistling Past Dixie

2 2004 Electoral Map


4 Electoral College Trends You just lived through the two most stable presidential elections in American history: Just three states (NH, IA, NM) flipped between 2000 and 2004the fewest since Washington ran the table back-to-back in 1788 & 1792. George W. Bushs electoral totals were 271 and 286. The map is highly bifurcated: In 1960, an election won by.2% in popular vote, there were 14 comfortable statewide wins (10%+), 6 of which were blowouts (20%+); by 2000, an election won by -.5%, there were 28 comfortable wins, of which 14 were blowouts. The Non-Southern calculus is here: Democrats won the popular vote in three of past four elections, and got 270 non- southern electoral votes in 92 and 96, and came within one state of doing so in 2000 and 2004.


6 Electoral College Snapshot, 2004 Democratic 14 states 183 electors Competitive 12 states 142 electors Republican 25 states 213 electors California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington Colorado Florida Iowa Michigan Minnesota Nevada New Hampshire New Mexico Ohio Oregon Pennsylvania Wisconsin Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming

7 Swing State Calculus Solid Republican South and Mountain West, plus solid Democratic Northeast, makes Midwest & Southwest pivotal Swing state income and employment rates have had particularly negative effects among white, working-class Rustbelt voters Growth of Hispanic voting-age population, surpassing African Americans in 2002 as nations largest minority Voter dissatisfaction with Iraq war Significance of white Catholic vote

8 Median Income Decline, 2000-2006 Source: Detroit Free Press





13 Simon & Schuster October 2006

14 The Non-Southern Strategy Makes sense no matter how you slice it: Ideology: Why would the more liberal and progressive of the two parties start to rebuild itself in the most conservative region of the country? Demography: Why would a female-led, multi-racial, union- oriented, urban/inner-suburban, more secular party rebuild itself in the least gender-gapped, most racially-polarized, least unionized, most rural and evangelized region? History: The Northeast and West outvoted the South from 1860-1932; the Northeast flipped and, along with the South, outvoted the West from 1932-1968; the South flipped and, along with the West, outvoted the Northeast from 1968 to today. The West is due to flip next, recreating the same map the GOP used to dominate politics from 1860-1932. Numerics: The South has basically cast the same share of electors for 13 decadesbetween 27 percent and 31 percent.


16 Democratic Presidential Electoral Margins Inside v. Outside the South, 1972-2004 YearNomineeSouthNon-SouthDifference 1972McGovern-40.6-18.8-21.8 1976Carter+9.4-0.1+9.5 1980Carter-6.9-10.6+3.7 1984Mondale-25.2-15.9-9.3 1988Dukakis-17.4-4.4-13.0 1992Clinton-1.4+8.1-9.5 1996Clinton+0.1+11.7-11.6 2000Gore-10.8+4.9-15.6 2004Kerry-14.4+2.3-16.7 All-11.2-2.0-9.2 Computed by author from data courtesy of

17 Countless factors complicate a Democratic revival in the South: In the South, the Democratic-advantageous gender gap is smallest among whites. South is most racially-polarized region, and Democratic-voting black populations are smaller in almost every southern state than they were in 1950. As it has been for four generations, the South is the least-unionized region in the country. It is the most rural region in America. The South is the most culturally-conservative and most religious-evangelized region of the country. Southerners dont take kindly to third-party and insurgent candidates.

18 How Republicans Keep White House Obviously, they could just win the same 31 states and 286 electors again! If they lose Florida (27) or Ohio (20), flip one or two Midwestern states (Michigan, Minnesota or Wisconsin), or maybe Pennsylvania? If they lose some Southwestern states, theyll need to do both. White, culture war and anti-terror voters will be crucial, particularly by suburban women and rural men for Midwest gains; while returning to 2004 levels among Hispanics is key to holding the Southwest.

19 How Democrats Take White House If they hold Kerrys 19 states and 252 electors, there are four routes: Single-shot Florida (27) Single-shot Ohio (20) Southwest route: Flip two to four among Arizona (10, least likely), Colorado (9), Nevada (5), or New Mexico (5, most likely) The 36 th parallel route: Turn either Virginia (13) + West Virginia (5), or Kentucky (8) + Missouri (11).

20 Candidate effects Republicans –John McCainlocks Arizona, but could create unrest elsewhere because of immigration position –Rudy GiulianiCould put some Northeast corridor states into play, including Metro 3 where Bush gained –Mitt RomneySimilar but weaker effect in Northeast, Mormonism could jeopardize white evangelical-led states –Fred ThompsonSecures southern base, effect elsewhere unclear Democrats –Hillary ClintonDefault Democrat who holds all Kerry- won states, but unclear which parts of map she opens up –Barack ObamaForget the non-FL South, might have traction in new West states –John EdwardsCould put some Border and Rim South states into play

21 Electoral College Strategy for 2008 Dirksen Congressional Center August 1, 2007 Thanks!





26 Top 10 States, by Share of American Indians or Alaskan Natives State19902003 Alaska15.615.9 New Mexico8.910.0 South Dakota7.38.4 Oklahoma8.0 Montana6.06.5 Arizona5.65.3 North Dakota4.14.9 Wyoming2.12.4 Washington1.71.6 Idaho1.41.5 U.S. Census Bureau data.

27 Asian Americans Asian Americans were 4.2 percent of the national population in 2000, and account for a higher- than-average share in nine states…only one of which is southern: –Hawaii (58.0 percent) –California (12.0 percent) –Washington (6.7 percent) –New Jersey (6.2 percent) –New York (6.2 percent) –Nevada (5.6 percent) –Alaska (5.2 percent) –Maryland (4.5 percent) –Virginia (4.3 percent)

28 Presidential Results, 2004 Democratic Margin among Women AllWhites Alabama-14-58 Arkansas-20 Florida-13 Georgia-12-52 Louisiana-9-49 Mississippi-19-79 North Carolina-8-44 South Carolina-10-56 Tennessee-13-29 Texas-26-52 Virginia0-29 United States+3-11


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