Obama Better get Busy, Because Clinton Had a Better Chance
by David Karlsruher
Posted on June 4, 2008
If you believe all the media hype this week you're surely counting Senator Hillary Clinton out as the Democratic nominee by now. Congratulations should go to Senator Barack Obama then ... right? The Democrats elected the right person ... right? Probably not.
If the Democrats were looking to advance the person most likely to succeed in the general election; I think they have made a mistake. Knowing what we now know about which states trend red (Republican) or blue (Democrat) it should have been a no-brainer to the Democratic Super Delegates to pick Clinton overwhelmingly. Don't believe me? Here's the breakdown.
The very first thing you should do is familiarize yourself with the 2004 Presidential Election results and the corresponding map. CNN has provided this information in a very easy to read format and you can find it HERE.
Notice which states went to President Bush and which states went to John Kerry. A little over three million votes and 34 electoral votes separated the candidates. I would venture the opinion that this election could be as close as the last one with one or two states making all the difference in the outcome.
The argument between Obama and Clinton supporters is one of quantity versus quality. Barack has won more states and more delegates, but Hillary has won bigger states and, depending on the count, owns the popular vote. What is more important?
In order for the Democrats to improve upon John Kerry's performance in 2004 they are going to have pick up a medium or large state. Two states that are most often described as "swing states" are Ohio and Florida. Election handicappers point out that both states are split right down the middle when it comes to Democrats and Republicans. Bush pulled out razor thin wins in 2004. If a democrat was to pick up just one of those states in the upcoming election with all other states staying their same color (red or blue) they'd win the presidency. So who has the best shot to win those states?
Clinton won both states' primaries even though neither candidate was to campaign in Florida. To see an easy to read map on which states Obama and Clinton won you can click HERE. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Democrats have picked the candidate who lost in both of these states to a candidate in his own party. Technically speaking the Democrats aren't putting their most popular candidate on the ballot in either of these swing states. I find that somewhat hard to explain away.
In fact, if you look at the five largest states minus each Senator's homes state (Illinois tied for number 5 and New York number 3) you'll see that Clinton takes three out of five with Barack not clearly winning one state, but instead splitting two with Clinton.
Top Five States by Number Electoral Votes and Democratic Primary Winner (minus Illinois and New York)
California - Clinton
Texas - split
Florida - split
Pennsylvania - Clinton
Ohio - Clinton
(Electoral College Information HERE)
I hate to diminish the role of other smaller states in this race, but the Democrats have reliably won most of the large electoral vote rich states in the past. In my opinion it's a bad strategy to pin all your hopes on a candidate who obtained most of his delegates by winning states that are likely to go Republican in the general election.
I must also admit that anything is possible and Obama may just win Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia making all of my arguments moot. Somehow, I doubt that is going to happen.
If you've done a little homework you're probably screaming by now. After all, Barack Obama has been shown to be leading McCain by more percentage points than Hillary Clinton is in most national head to head polls. If Obama does better than Clinton in national polls against McCain then Obama should be nominee, right? Well, you're right, but you are wrong.
(Note: right now Obama supporters are feverishly searching the internet for proof that polls are more often than not correct and reflect what will actually happen in the upcoming election)
National polls that measure the will of just over 1,500 or so likely voters isn't the best way to examine the likely result of the upcoming election. Remember, our president is chosen by the electoral college and not the popular vote. The best way to handicap the upcoming race is measure the polling results from each respective state. Good thing I have that information handy for you.
The links below will show you how both Obama and Clinton are polling against McCain in a state by state breakdown with a history of polling results.
Looks like both candidates at this moment are projected to beat McCain, but one Democrat looks quite a bit stronger than the other. Their math has Clinton scoring 327 electoral votes against McCain and Obama racking up only 276 electoral votes. The threshold for victory is 270 electoral votes.
Notice that Clinton beats McCain in both Florida and Ohio where as Obama only defeats McCain in Ohio. Presidential insurance of the best kind comes in a package that includes Florida and Ohio victories. Clinton leads McCain by ten percentage points in Florida while McCain leads Obama by the same margin in that state. Both candidates are leading McCain in Ohio.
As you compare the two maps you may notice that Clinton is actually beating McCain in North Carolina, Arkansas, West Virginia and Kentucky. Do you remember that blood red map from above? Refresh your memory - Blood Red Map From Above. Taking any one of those states would be devastating for the Republicans. Obama isn't beating McCain in any of those states. In fact, Obama's map looks a little like the one from 2004 where the Democrats lost.
(Note: right now Obama supporters are feverishly searching the internet for proof that polls are actually always wrong and do not reflect what will actually happen in the upcoming election)
All of this polling data leaves me wondering under what parameters are the Democrats picking the candidate. Are they picking the candidate whose politics they like the most or the one with the best chance to win?
On one hand a purist would not leave his or her political ideals just to say that someone with the Democratic label is in power. On the other hand a person loyal to the party brand would set aside any policy disputes to support someone wearing the home team's jersey. The Republicans obviously picked the latter over the former.
I'm sure that Barack Obama is an amazing inspirer of people, but the numbers just don't reflect that he's the most popular. The fact is that Hillary Clinton has collected more votes than her opponent, depending on the count. Somehow those votes just weren't cast in the right places to advance their respective candidacies.
Delegates and Electoral Colleges seem to complicate what should be straight forward. In this case the delegate process created by the Democratic Party leaders have delivered them the weaker candidate... at least on paper.
Will there be a lesson for the Democrats to learn in this election? I would forward the guess that there is a very big lesson for them to learn. Winning the most delegates in your party's contest doesn't always make you the best candidate to go out and beat the other party's best.
They may find that a successful run for president is dictated by the right combination of strategy and popularity.
There's a variation of a quote attributed to President Abraham Lincon that says, "You can please all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot please all the people all the time." My advice to Senator Barack Obama is to please the people in the swing states before the first Tuesday in November because he's going to need them.
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