Friday, February 15, 2008

McCain-Obama Race Highlights November Electoral Math

With Barack Obama's strength among African-Americans, and conservatives hedging in their support for likely GOP nominee John McCain, a McCain-Obama matchup in November promises to make for a less pre-determined Electoral College arithmetic this year:

In recent presidential elections, the electoral map largely has been fixed, with certain regions predictably loyal to one party or another and the competition narrowed to fewer than 20 battleground states.

But Barack Obama's success in rallying African-Americans and John McCain's difficulty with conservative evangelicals raise an intriguing question: Would a general election between the two put additional states -- particularly in the South -- into play?

Mr. Obama is still locked in a race with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. A general election between her and Mr. McCain could also draw lines in new ways, given Mrs. Clinton's strong appeal to women and Hispanics.

If Mr. Obama wins the nomination, it is far from certain that he could claim even a single Southern state. But even making the race there competitive would be a victory of sorts by forcing Mr. McCain to spend time and money defending states that other Republicans, including President Bush, were able to take for granted.

"It's certainly likely some of these Southern states are going to be much more competitive than before," said Merle Black, an expert on Southern politics at Emory University.
I don't think this analysis necessarily implies an Obama advantage.

McCain's alleged apostasies on issues such as immigration could make him all the more attractive in other parts of the country. For example, California might see the most competitive general election campaign in recent years. Here's more on that:
Mr. McCain might enter a race versus Mr. Obama with an advantage among Hispanic voters. During the primaries so far, Mr. McCain has done well with Hispanics, while Mr. Obama has not. That could change the calculations in the Rocky Mountain West, Republican territory where Democrats have seen an opening.
It's going to be a great contest!

See also my previous entry, "
McCain's General Election Advantage."