Friday, June 27, 2008

McCain's VP Picks

We have talked on and on about Obama's VP picks but we have barely mentioned possible VP picks for McCain. There are quite a few choices for McCain. Here is a list of people McCain may pick for VP.

Tim Pawlenty, the Republican Governer of Minniesota is a possibility. He is a young guy unlike McCain. That will help McCain to not be portrayed as an old and boring guy. Pawlenty is from Minniesota which will help McCain there but it is hard to tell whether Pawlenty will help McCain much there. He was reelected by 23,000 votes against Mike Hatch who was not the greatest candidate Democrats could find in that state. Pawlenty could help McCain connect to blue collar voters because of Pawlenty's blue collar background.

John Thune, the Republican Junior Senator from South Dakota is a good choice. He is young and energetic. In 2004, he defeated Tom Daschle who was the Senate minority leader at the time. Thune is popular with the party base so he could do get some conservatives who don't like McCain. If McCain needs someone who is not boring and tired like him, Thune would be the guy. Pawlenty may be a better choice because South Dakota would probably go for McCain without Thune on the ticket.

Tom Ridge, the former Republican governer of Pennsylvania and former Secreatary of Homeland Security would be a good pick for McCain. Although Ridge is not quite young and fresh by being in his early 60's, he is not quite old and tired. He will help McCain in Pennsylvania and that will be essential for McCain's plan to pick off states that Kerry won in 2004. Tom Ridge is pro choice so evangelicals will not like him. Although conventional wisdom suggests that McCain should pick someone popular with evangelicals so they will help him in the South, McCain needs someone who can help him with moderates.

Kay Bailey Hutchinson, the Republican Senior Senator of Texas. Although Texas is considered a McCain state, it may come into play and Hutchinson would stop that. She would appeal to women and she is also pro choice. The problem with her is that conservative men who do not like McCain would be too sexist to vote for her. That could be equaled out by moderate women voters.

Bobby Jindal, the Republican Governer of Louisiana is another good choice for McCain. We do not believe he will be the guy. He is very young (37) which will be a help to McCain. Jindal is from India which may worry some conservatives. Jindal was able to carry 54% of the vote in Louisiana in 2007 but when he ran for governer in 2002, he did poorly in the northern part of the state which is more conservative. He has been able to cross racial lines in Louisiana but we need to see if he can do the same in the rest of the country.

Mitt Romney, the former Republican Governer of Massachuttses and former presidential hopeful. He has been thoroughly vetted which will be important. If McCain picks someone who has not been vetted, some unexpected story about the VP could surface which would not be good for McCain. Also, Romney has appeal in the western rural states because he is a Mormon but that will not help with evangelicals. Romney could help with other conservatives but is viewed as a flip flopper which is one of the reasons he is not the nominee. One thing is that McCain and Romney may not like each other enough to work on the same campaign.

When it comes dowm to it, we believe Ridge is the best choice with Pawlenty and Romney tying for second place. Ridge has been vetted more, his location and solidness will be what McCain needs. Pawlenty has not been vetted and the vetting issue is very important in this election as McCain will not want to take risks. Romney and McCain may not like each other enough to be on the same ticket.
Please feel free to say who you think the VP should be by commenting on this post.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Senate Rankings

Here are the current rankings of where we think the Senate races currently stand. If you would like an analysis or want to learn more about the most competitive Senate races, look at our recent post about the Senate races most likely to switch. Seats that are currently held by Democrats are in blue while seats currently held by Republicans are in red. Well, here are the rankings.

Strong Dem(10 seats)
Arkansas(Pyror) Delaware(Biden) Illinois(Durbin) Iowa(Harkin) Massachuttses(Kerry) Michigan(Levin) Montana(Baucus) Rhode Island(Reed) South Dakota (Johnson) West Virginia(Rockerfeller)

Likely Dem(2 seats)
New Jersey(Lautenburg) Virginia Open(Warner)

Lean Dem(2 seats)
Louisiana(Landireu) New Hampshire(Sumunu)

Toss up(5 seats)
Alaska(Stevens) Colorado Open(Allard) Minniesota(Coleman) Mississippi(Wicker) New Mexico Open(Domeinichi)

Lean Rep(3 seats)
Maine(Collins) North Carolina(Dole) Oregon(Smith)

Likely Rep(2 seats)
Kentucky(McConnel) Texas(Cornyn)

Solid Rep(11 seats)
Alabama(Sessions) Georgia(Chambliss) Idaho Open(Craig) Kansas(Roberts) Mississippi(Cochran) Nebraska Open(Hagel) Oklahoma(Inhofe) South Carolina(Graham) Tennessee(Alexander) Wyoming(Enzi) Wyoming(Barrasso)

These are the rankings for the Senate races of 2008. Democrats will have to gain nine seats to reject a fillibuster and have total control of the Senate. That would require them to get every seat up to toss up and two of the seats leaning Republican. It will probably not happen but as we said recently, the Democrats will gain 5 to 6 seats.
If you have any thoughts, please feel free to comment this post.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Three More Possible VPs

The talk of Obama's VP has died down recently. We have not mentioned many new ones recently until now. Wesley Clark seems to be a great pick for Obama. He has been brought up a bit but not much. Clark seems to have everything necessary to be Obama's VP. Obama needs someone who is experienced and Wesley Clark is very experienced. He was a four star general for NATO. Also, Wesley Clark was a big Hillary supporter and that will help Obama with some disenchanted Hillary supporters although there are not many left in that group. Wesley Clark will help Obama with the military and he is someone who can respond to McCain's combat experience. Wesley Clark has never held public office before and that would help Obama as portraying himself as the change candidate. Clark is from Arkansas but he is not likely to help there. He can help in the military communities in Virginia and Colorado. Those are states that Bush won in 2004 and if Obama could hold onto the Democratic states and win those two, he would be president. We do not really see any horrible problems for Clark except that the Republicans may use the fact that Clark never held public office against him. We do believe that fact will probably be more of a help than a problem.

These are two other picks that we do not think are good picks for Obama but we wanted to just float these names in the air. Obama is probably considering the former Senator of Georgia Sam Nunn for VP. Nunn is experienced and may help Obama in Georgia where Obama hopes he can be competitive enough to win. There are more downsides to Nunn however. He will be 70 in September which is probably a bit too old. Nunn has not been in politics for twevle years so he may not be quite as skilled as needed. He is a very conservative Democrat and he supports school prayer and opposes gay rights which will help in the South but not with Liberals. Overall, we believe Nunn is too old for VP and too conservative.

We do not believe Senator Chuck Hagel from Nebraska would be the best VP for Obama but we wanted to float the name because there are some things Hagel would bring to the ticket to help Obama. Hagel has a good amount of experience and is a big opponent of the Iraq war. That would help Obama as the anti war candidate although he is doing a fantastic job being the anti war candidate by himself. Hagel probably cannot bring Nebraska into Obama's collum but Nebraska has a weird way of proportioning its electoral votes. The winner of a congressional district gets one electoral vote and the winner of the state gets an extra two electoral votes. Hagel could probably get Obama one electoral vote from Nebraska. Hagel is a Republican so he could get some Republicans to vote for Obama. That is a double edged sword though because that may not make some Liberals happy. Also, Hagel is conservative on almost everything else. This is why Hagel would not be the best choice for Obama's VP.

Out of these three, Clark is the best pick. We think that Clark is the best pick after Webb or maybe even as good as Webb. We definitely think there are a lot of great choices for Obama's VP. We have talked much about McCain's VP and we plan to make a post about that soon. Please feel free to share your thoughts about these VP picks.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Senate Races Most Likely to Switch

Even if McCain wins, the Democrats are still going to make gains in Congress. It is unlikely the Democrats will pick up nine seats to overturn a fillibuster. The Democrats will probably get about 5 to 6 seats. With this large majority, Harry Reid can move "Traitor" Joe to the other side of the aisle. The Democrats will have an easier time pushing their agenda. If McCain does become president, he will have a nightmare facing the heavily Democratic Congress. If Obama becomes president, the Democrats will steer the agenda for two years and 2010 will probably be a Republican year. We have a list of the seven Senate races that are most likely to switch parties. The Senate race with the 1 next to it is the Senate race that we believe has the best chance of switching parties. Enough chitter chatter, onto the list.

7. Louisiana (held by Democrat)
Mary Landrieu is up for reelection and she won 52%-48% in her last election. She will be facing state treasurer John Kennedy(R) who is a former Democrat. Landrieu will definitely be helped by Obama. He will probably bring large numbers of African Americans to the polls. The African American population of Louisiana was 32%. That number has probably dropped a bit after Katrina and it remains to be seen how many African Americans there are in Lousiana after Katrina. Currently we believe this race is slightly tilting Democratic.

6. Mississippi (held by a Republcan)
Although Thad Cochran is pretty safe, the new Senator Roger Wicker (R) is having a tough time holding onto his seat. The former governer of the state Ronnie Musgrove (D) is running against Wicker. Wicker has never held statewide office before. He was the Representative from the 1st Congressional district of Mississippi. Haley Barbour appointed Wicker to fill Trent Lott's open U.S Senate seat. Musgrove is a conservative white Democrat so he must get enough whites to vote for him so he can win along with the African American turnout Obama will bring. Currently, this race is a toss up.

5. Alaska (held by a Republican)
Although Ted Stevens has been a Senator from Alaska for 40 years, this may be the last term for the longest serving Senator from the Last Frontier. He is facing Democrat Mark Begich, the mayor of Anchorage and the son of former congressman Nick Begich. Stevens usually wins reelection by a wide margin but that will not happen this time. Recently, the FBI raided his house due to an ethics charge. Polls show Stevens and Begich attracting about the same percentage of their own party. The reason for this race being close is that Begich has a large lead of unaffiliated voters. Expect this race to be one of the closest of the cycle. This race is currently a toss up.

4. Colorado (held by a Republican)
Since 2004, Democrats have been making gains in Colorado. They control the Governership, the state Senate and state House along with one U.S Senate seat. Wayne Allard who holds the other U.S Senate seat is retiring. Rep. Mark Udall (D) from Boulder and former Rep. Bob Schaffer (R) from the 4th district which contains Fort Collins and the eastern part of the state are both running for the seat. Recent polls show Udall with a lead and Obama will be contesting Colorado. Those two factors may be enough for Udall to pull off a win. This race currently leans Democratic.

3. New Mexico (held by a Republican)
We were not sure whether to give this spot to New Hampshire or not but we decided to give this to New Mexico. Pete Domenichi (R) is retiring and Rep. Tom Udall (D) who is the cousin of Mark Udall who is running for Senate in Colorado won an easy primary. Rep. Steve Pearce (R) will be running for the seat too. Pearce barely won the primary 51%-49% against Rep. Heather Wilson. Pearce is heavily conservative which is why he won the primary but that will probably not play well into the general election. Udall also is the son of Stewart Udall who was the Secretary of the Interior when Johnson and Kennedy were president. Polls show Udall with a lead which is why we think this race currently leans Democratic.

2. New Hampshire (held by a Republican)
This is not the first contest between former Governer Jeanne Shaheen (D) and Senator John Sumunu (R). In 2002, they ran against each other and Sumunu won only 51%-47%. Now Shaheen is back and polls show she is leading Sumunu in the high single didgits and the low double didgits. Sumunu is a moderate to conservative Republican and McCain is on the top of the ticket which may help Sumunu. Democrats have been doing really well in New Hampshire. Since 2004, Democrats gained the governership, both of New Hampshire's U.S house seats, control of the State House and State Senate. It looks like this may be Sumunu's last term even if McCain does win New Hampshire. This race currently leans Democratic.

1. Virginia (held by a Republican)
This race is almost certain to fall into Democratic hands. John Warner (R) is retiring and former Governer Mark Warner (D) is running for the seat. Former Governer Jim Gilmore (R) is running too but it looks like there is no chance for him. A recent Rasmussen poll shows Warner leading in the high teens. Now that Warner said he will not run for VP, it is certain he will be the Junior Senator of Virginia next year.

These our the opinons we have of the Senate Races most likely to switch this cycle. We plan to soon post rankings of the Senate seats like the rankings for the states in the presidential. In the future, we will make make the list of the Senate races most likely to switch longer.
If you have any thoughts on this list, please feel free to comment it.

Friday, June 13, 2008

State Rankings

Since our last rankings, some states have changed their spots. Michigan was formerly lean Obama but we changed it to toss up. Minniesota will replace Michigan on the lean Obama list. Missouri is being moved from lean Republican to toss up. There will be a few more changes but we believe these are the most important ones. We do believe that the battlegrounds may move to the west and not be as centered on Ohio although the Rust Belt states Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and possibly Indiana will be competitive. Well, here are the rankings.

Solid Obama (154 electoral votes)
California (55) Hawaii (4) Illinois (21) Maryland (10) Massachuttses (12) New York (31) Rhode Island (4) Vermont (3) Washington (11) Washington D.C (3)

Likely Obama(14 electoral votes)
Conneticut (7) Delaware (3) Maine (4)

Leaning Obama (32 electoral votes)
Minniesota (10) New Jersey (15) Oregon (7)

Toss Up(122 electoral votes)
Colorado (9) Iowa (7) Michigan (17) Missouri (11) Nevada (5) New Hampshire (4) New Mexico (5) Ohio (20) Pennsylvania (21) Virginia (13) Wisconsin (10)

Leaning McCain(57 electoral votes)
Florida (27) Georgia (15) North Carolina (15)

Likely McCain(63 electoral votes)
Indiana (11) Louisiana (9) Mississippi (6) Montana (3) Texas (34)

Solid McCain(96 electoral votes)

Alabama (9) Alaska (3) Arizona (10) Arkansas (6) Idaho (4) Kansas (6) Kentucky (8) Nebraska (5) North Dakota (3) Oklahoma (7) South Carolina (8) South Dakota (3) Tennessee (11) Utah (5) West Virginia (5) Wyoming (3)

Total: Obama 200 McCain 216

Obama has managed to narrow the gap a bit but this is what is really important, the majority of the Obama states are solidly for him while the majority of the McCain states are not solidly for him. We moved many states that were formerly likely McCain because those states we believed could be competitive due to high African American populations but we believe they weren't high enough to give Obama those states. We moved Indiana because of the possibility of Evan Bayh being on the ticket (we will have a post about him soon) Texas just should not be ignored. We believe that even though there is a possibility of a high turnout of African Americans in Florida, we do not think it is quite enough to give Obama the state. If you want to test your electoral college scenarios, please go to We hope to have a post talking about the most competitive states.
If you have any thoughts about the state rankings or something else, please feel free to comment it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

African American Turnout in the Big Battlegrounds

The biggest states that are currently battlegrounds are Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan. The percentage of African Americans in these states are all smaller than the states we talked about in our last post. The percentage of African Americans in Florida is 16%, Pennsylvania 11%, Ohio 12%, Michigan 14%. They would have the largest influence in Florida because it has the largest population of African Americans out of these states and many African Americans did not vote in 2004 while African American turnout in Ohio and Pennsylvania was higher.
In 2004, about 900,000 African Americans in Florida which made up about 12% of the voters there voted 86%-13% for Kerry. There are about 2.6 million African Americans in Florida and about 800,000 elligable African Americans did not vote. If Obama wants to win Florida by only using high African American turnout he would probably need between 60%-70% of the African Americans who did not vote to go to the polls on election day. Although McCain will get a boost from turnout of elderly and Hispanics, there will probably not be many new voters in the districts with lots of elderly residents. The turnout in those districts was very high in the 2004 election. For example, in the Florida 5th district which has the highest percentage of elderly residents in the nation (a bit under 40%,) had about 370,000 people vote there. The good side for McCain is that districts like the 5th are growing very quickly so he could get the new voters there to the polls. The congressional districts with large populations of African Americans do not have very high turnout. In the Florida 23rd district which is 51% African American had about 210,000 people vote there in 2004. Assuming about half of the voters there are African American, there are about 100,000 elligable African Americans who did not vote in 2004. There are many new voters Obama can get to the polls but he must do well with Jews and get the 18-29 year olds to the polls.
In Pennsylvania, a large turnout of African Americans will not be as influential as one in Florida. There are about 1.3 million African Americans in Pennsylvania and about 700,000 of them voted in 2004 and Kerry won them 84%-16%. This means there are only 200,000 elligable African Americans who did not vote in 2004. Kerry won Pennsylvania by 145,000 votes so Obama needs to turnout enough African Americans to offset any gains in the working class by McCain. Since the potential number of new African American voters in Pennsylvania is low, they might not be the main factor in giving Obama a victory here but if the vote count is exceedlingly close, they will have made the difference.
In Ohio, 10% of the voters in 2004 were African American and they voted 84%-16% for Kerry. A bit under 600,000 African Americans out of the 1.4 million in Ohio voted in 2004. Subtracting the number of African Americans too young to vote leaves around 370,000 elligable African Americans who did not vote in 2004. Bush won Ohio by 119,000 votes and Obama's percentage among African Americans definitely would increase over Kerry's which means that a bit under 1/3 of the African Americans who did not vote in 2004 would have to vote in 2008. The African American turnout would probably be not as influential here as it would in Florida. Many of the African Americans here vote, for example, 290,000 people voted in the Ohio 11th congressional district which is 55% African American.
In Michigan, about 600,000 out of the 1.4 million African Americans voted in 2004. Kerry won them 89%-10%. This means that there are a bit under 400,000 elligable African Americans in Michigan who did not vote in 2004. Like Florida, the heavily African American congressional districts here do not have as high turnout as Ohio. The 14th congressional district of Michigan had 265,000 voters in 2004 and this district is 61% African American. The problem for the Democrats is that the population of this district declined by 44,000 in the past six years. Obama won Michigan by 166,000 votes and McCain will definitely try to make inroads among the independents and the working class. The African American turnout Obama brings may just be able to offset McCain's margins in other parts of the state.
We do belive that even though Obama can get the highest increase in African American turnout in Florida, we think it is the state Obama has the least chance of winning out of these four. The elderly in Florida will go to McCain more strongly than to Bush and there are not many evangelicals there. Pennsylvania and Michigan are tied for the state that Obama has the best chance of winning. Ohio is in the middle. The levels of African American turnout will probably be historic and if Obama wins, the turnout will have propelled him to victory.
If you have any thoughts about this post, please feel free to comment it.

Friday, June 6, 2008

A Look at Potential African American Turnout in the South

Now the Democratic nominee is certain. Obama as the first African American to be on a major party ticket will be taking on John McCain. The map will be different this year than in 2004. McCain will try to snatch Michigan, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Minniesota and New Jersey from the Democrats. Obama will try to take Iowa, Colorado, New Mexico, Ohio and Virginia from the Republicans. We believe that Obama will have more oppurtunities in the South than just Virginia. There has been talk about other states in the South being competitive but the pundits say there are simply not enough African Americans. We do believe that Obama can create a massive turnout and some unenthusiastic evangelicals might not come out and vote.
A few really moderate ones may be inclined to go to Obama if Ted Strickland who is a former minister is on the ticket. Now here is the math to see how many African Americans Obama could get to the polls.
Mississippi has almost 1.1 million African American who voted 90%-10% for Kerry against Bush. About 1.1 million people voted in that election and of those voters, around 380,000 of those voters were African American. 1/3 of the population of Mississippi is under 18 but we do not know the percentage for African Americans. We do estimate that about 300,000 African Americans elligable to vote did not cast ballots. Bush won Mississippi by about 167,000 votes. This does not exactly mean that half of the African Americans who did not vote in 2004 in Mississippi need to vote. Obama will probably win African Americans 95%-5% which will already make his percent of the vote go up at least one point. As we pointed out earlier, many evangelicals are not enthused by McCain and they made up 48% of the voters in 2004. Then some of them hate Obama because of his race. So Obama in order to win Mississippi would have to increase African American turnout by a bit under 50% It is not impossible because that turnout happened in some parts of the Mississippi 1st district during the special election. The reason is that the Republican candidate, Greg Davis tried to tie the Democrat, Travis Childers to Barack Obama. A recent Rasmussen poll showed McCain leading in Mississippi by 6 points. Obama definitely should try hard to win Mississippi.
Even though Mississippi definitely should not be overlooked, it only has 6 electoral votes. Obama should try harder to win a bigger state such as North Carolina with 15 electoral votes. There are 1.9 million African Americans there and they are 22% of the population. In 2004, 900,000 African Americans in North Carolina voted for president and Kerry won them 85%-14%. We believe that there are between 400,000 and 500,000 African Americans who did not vote in 2004. Bush won North Carolina by 436,000 votes but this does not mean Obama needs to get 436,000 more African Americans out than in 2004. Obama will probably win African Americans 95%-5% making his percent of the vote go up 2 points even without the massive turnout. Then North Carolina has Durham with Duke University and the research triangle with well educated whites which has been a strength of Obama's in the primaries. It seems that after we include the turnout in the Durham area along with the drop in the evangelical turnout, Obama will need a bit more than 200,000 African Americans who did not vote in 2004 to vote in 2008. This is not impossible and the RCP poll average shows McCain with a lead of only three points.
Obama has a better shot at winning North Carolina than Georgia and he especially would if he put Edwards on the ticket. Georgia definitely should not be overlooked, it has 15 electoral votes and African Americans are 30% of the population. They cast 25% of the votes in 2004 and Kerry won them 88%-12% They cast over 800,000 votes out of the population of about 2.7 million. A bit under one million of the African Americans are children. That means about 900,000 African Americans elligible to vote didn't. Bush won Georgia in 2004 by 558,000 votes. The evangelicals who do not like McCain may vote for Bob Barr, the Libertarian candidate for president who is from Georgia. We need to see how prominent Bob Barr becomes. If he does not become prominent, Obama will need 400,000 to 450,000 more African American voters to win Georgia. If Bob Barr does become prominent we estimate the winning number should over 200,000 African Americans. This is certainly possible for Obama.
Virginia and its 13 electoral votes is the state that Obama has the best chance of winning in the South. Yes, we believe Obama has a better chance here than in Florida. Virginia has about 1.5 million African Americans that are 20% of the population. The African American voting bloc here is not as influential here as in the other states we were talking about. In the 2004 presidential election, a bit over 600,000 African Americans voted and Kerry won them 87%-12% This means about 400,000 elligable African American voters did not vote in 2004. Bush won Virginia by 262,000 votes but this does not mean that Obama will have to get a bit over 200,000 African Americans who did not vote to the polls even counting the evangelicals who won't vote. McCain will probably get a boost of turnout from the military community but it might not be as stronlgy for McCain if Jim Webb is on the ticket. Then there is Northern Virginia which has been trending to the Democrats in recent years so Obama needs to do very well there. The way it looks is that Obama will need about 150,0000 more African Americans in 2004 to vote in the general. These factors make Virginia the most competitive state in the South. The RCP poll average has McCain up by only 1.3 points.
We could go on and on about other states in the South but we do not believe there are enough African Americans in Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee to tilt the state to Obama. Louisiana may be competitive but we do not think there are enough African Americans and South Carolina has some retirement communities where McCain could do very well. We will have another post soon about how African American turnout can affect the traditional battleground states.
If you have any thoughts on this post, please feel free to comment it.