Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008
The new heart of darkness

Barack Obama won 29 states in the November election, but he won something more important: he improved Democrats' performance in all but 22 counties nationwide, among white voters, urban and suburban voters, Catholics, low income and high income voters, and among more educated voters all over the U.S. His remarkable success among a coalition of better educated white voters, Hispanics, African-Americans and young voters not only propelled him to victory, and helped secure 2012 (the demographics are moving even more his way,) his successful campaign marginalized and isolated a region of the country that used to rule it electorally: the American south. The New York Times reports today:
What may have ended on Election Day, though, is the centrality of the South to national politics. By voting so emphatically for Senator John McCain over Mr. Obama — supporting him in some areas in even greater numbers than they did President Bush — voters from Texas to South Carolina and Kentucky may have marginalized their region for some time to come, political experts say.

The region’s absence from Mr. Obama’s winning formula means it “is becoming distinctly less important,” said Wayne Parent, a political scientist at Louisiana State University. “The South has moved from being the center of the political universe to being an outside player in presidential politics.”

Why is that so?

One reason for that is that the South is no longer a solid voting bloc. Along the Atlantic Coast, parts of the “suburban South,” notably Virginia and North Carolina, made history last week in breaking from their Confederate past and supporting Mr. Obama. Those states have experienced an influx of better educated and more prosperous voters in recent years, pointing them in a different political direction than states farther west, like Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, and Appalachian sections of Kentucky and Tennessee.

Southern counties that voted more heavily Republican this year than in 2004 tended to be poorer, less educated and whiter, a statistical analysis by The New York Times shows. Mr. Obama won in only 44 counties in the Appalachian belt, a stretch of 410 counties that runs from New York to Mississippi. Many of those counties, rural and isolated, have been less exposed to the diversity, educational achievement and economic progress experienced by more prosperous areas.
Many people in these more rural, less educated and less progressive parts of the South and Appalachia remain deeply suspicious of Obama (they form the core of what I call the Palinites -- anti-Washington, anti-government, anti-big city and anti-intellectual, not to mention anti-not-white...) people like this guy, for instance ... (sorry, Lee County. Just try not to get pulled over if you're a Democrat... or if you have a Middle Eastern sounding name...) But for them, and for the country, that doesn't really matter much anymore, at least not electorally or in terms of the exercise of federal power:

Less than a third of Southern whites voted for Mr. Obama, compared with 43 percent of whites nationally. By leaving the mainstream so decisively, the Deep South and Appalachia will no longer be able to dictate that winning Democrats have Southern accents or adhere to conservative policies on issues like welfare and tax policy, experts say.

That could spell the end of the so-called Southern strategy, the doctrine that took shape under President Richard M. Nixon in which national elections were won by co-opting Southern whites on racial issues. And the Southernization of American politics — which reached its apogee in the 1990s when many Congressional leaders and President Bill Clinton were from the South — appears to have ended.
Florida (along with Virginia and North Carolina, and very nearly Georgia,) managed to escape the hold of the old Confederacy, and emerged as a shaky in parts, but fairly solid, part of the New, Suburban South. That's a good thing for Florida, which along with the North Carolina research triangle, is fighting to be a part of the high tech future, and to gain a foothold as a tech hub for Latin America. It's also good news for moderate Republicans like FL Gov. Charlie Crist, who is no Palinite, and who needs a progressive, moderate coalition to beat back what will surely be an aggressive Democratic challenge for his seat in 2010.


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posted by JReid @ 12:15 PM  
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Shwing! Western polls favor Obama
Maybe the reason John McCain was so testy with TIME Magazine's reporters was that he'd read these polls:
An exclusive TIME/CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll reveals that Barack Obama leads John McCain by several percentage points in three crucial battleground states—Nevada, New Mexico and Pennsylvania—while McCain tops Obama by 1% in Colorado.

Obama's widest margin is in New Mexico, where 53% of registered voters said they prefer the Democrat to 40% who favor McCain. Obama also holds a five-point advantage in Nevada (49% to 44%). Both states went narrowly to George W. Bush in the 2004 election.

In Pennsylvania, Obama leads 48% to 43, while McCain topped Obama in Colorado 47% to 46%. In all state polls, the margin of error is plus-or-minus 4%.


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posted by JReid @ 4:16 PM  
Thursday, July 31, 2008
My take on the new Quinnipiac poll, including Florida results, is up at Fla Politics.

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posted by JReid @ 11:03 AM  
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Schwing! New electoral math edition
Four more positive poll results for Barack Obama, courtesy of Quinnipiac University's polling outfit today:
An emerging Democratic coalition of women, minorities and younger voters is propelling Illinois Sen. Barack Obama to leads of five to 17 percentage points over Arizona Sen. John McCain among likely voters in the battleground states of Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, according to four simultaneous Quinnipiac University polls, conducted in partnership with The Wall Street Journal and and released today.

Sen. McCain's lead among white voters in Colorado and Michigan cuts the gap to single digits, but doesn't offset Sen. Obama's strength among other groups. The Democrat also leads by eight to 21 percentage points among independent voters in each state. Overall results show:
  • Colorado: Obama leads McCain 49 - 44 percent, including 51 - 39 percent among independent voters;
  • Michigan: Obama tops McCain 48 - 42 percent, with 46 - 38 percent among independents;
  • Minnesota: Obama buries McCain 54 - 37 percent, and 54 - 33 percent with independents;
  • Wisconsin: Obama leads McCain 52 - 39 percent, and 50 - 37 percent with independents.
Obama is losing white men by just 5 points in Colorado, and splitting whites 46 to McCain's 47 in my former state, while creaming McCain with Hispanics, 62-36.

He's winning all age groups in Michigan, including a 3-point edge with voters over 55 (he's down by 6 points with white men. Meanwhile,
Obama tops McCain 58 - 32 percent with women and 49 - 42 percent among men. White voters support Obama 51 - 39 percent. The Democrat leads 63 - 33 percent among voters 18 to 34 years old, 52 - 39 percent among voters 35 to 54 and 49 - 38 percent with voters over 55.

Obama gets a 59 - 22 percent favorability, to 46 - 32 percent for McCain.
Meanwhile in Minnesota, there's good news for Barack, bad news for Al Franken, and Tim Pawlenty news for John McCain:
"Sen. Obama sweeps nearly every demographic group in Minnesota, including whites and blue collar workers, to lead by 17 points, the biggest lead in the four states surveyed. At the same time, Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, with overwhelming support among men and a tie among women, has a 10-point overall lead over comedian Al Franken, the Democratic challenger," said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

"Most voters say it would not make any difference in their vote if Gov. Tim Pawlenty is McCain's running mate," Richards added. Wisconsin

Not what the McCain team wants to hear, I suspect.

Last but not least:
Wisconsin women likely voters back Obama 53 - 37 percent while men back the Democrat 51 - 40 percent. White voters back Obama 49 - 42 percent. He leads 61 - 35 percent among voters 18 to 34 years old, 52 - 39 percent among voters 35 to 54 years old and 47 - 41 percent among voters over 55.

Obama's favorability is 54 - 27 percent, with 48 - 30 percent for McCain.

And the main issue for all comers: the economy, stupid. It's no wonder that:
"November can't get here soon enough for Sen. Barack Obama. He has a lead everywhere, and if nothing changes between now and November he will make history," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
With those numbers? Hell yes. Now, for the very early, and very theoretical, Electoral College count:

Electoral votes:
Colorado - 9
Michigan - 17
Minnesota - 10
Wisconsin - 10
Total - 46

Give all 46 of those EVs to Obama, and he's got 221 electoral votes, without including Florida, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Nevada, New Mexico, Missouri, Virginia, Iowa, North Carolina or Virginia. He would need another 49 EVs, McCain would need 96. That leaves Obama a number of combinations to win it. Give him the three previous QPac swing states that he's winning: Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania, and Obama is at 289, enough to win it all. Add Iowa and New Mexico -- two states he will almost certainly win -- and he's over 300. It's a tantalizing possibility, but again, it's still early, and we don't know what the Bushies' "October surprise" will be yet...

To have fun with the delegate math your damn self, go to Just look busy so your boss thinks you're working...


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posted by JReid @ 1:40 PM  
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
The latest Quinnipiac swing state polls have bad news for Pat Buchanan and other political analysts who have created a mini cottage industry out of Barack Obama's supposed inability to win over women and blue collar voters in the traditional battleground states, the way Hillary Clinton did.

Not only does Barack Obama lead John McCain in three crucial battleground states -- Ohio, Pennsylvania, and for the first time this political season, Florida -- his lead in PA is the largest of them all. I guess those "real Americans" in Appalachia are closet Adlai Stevenson fans? The numbers:
  • Florida: Obama edges McCain 47 - 43 percent;
  • Ohio: Obama tops McCain 48 - 42 percent;
  • Pennsylvania: Obama leads McCain 52 - 40 percen
The poll also reveals ongoing demographic challenges for John McCain:
In the three states, Obama leads McCain 10 to 23 percentage points among women, while men are too close to call. The Democrat trails among white voters in Florida and Ohio, but gets more than 90 percent of black voters in each state. He also has double-digit leads among young voters in each state.
And as to the idea of Hillary Clinton on the ticket, even in Clinton Country (Florida and Pennsylvania,) the idea leaves crucial independent voters cold:
  • Florida: Democrats want Clinton on the ticket 57 - 33 percent while Republicans are opposed 59 - 17 percent and independents oppose it 46 - 37 percent;
  • Ohio: Democrats want Clinton for Vice President 58 - 31 percent, but Republicans say no 60 - 19 percent and independents turn thumbs down 47 - 31 percent;
  • Pennsylvania: Democrats say yes to Clinton 60 - 31 percent, while Republicans say no 63 - 20 percent and independents nix the idea 49 - 36 percent.
"If Sen. Obama seriously is thinking about picking Sen. Clinton as his running mate, these numbers might cause him to reconsider. The people who really matter come November - independent voters - turn thumbs down on the idea. And, many say they are less likely to vote for him if he puts her on the ticket," Brown added.
The crucial finding here is that women are quickly consolidating behind the Obama candidacy, or against McCain, however you choose to spin it. As McCain's views become more widely known, he will become even more difficult to market to women, and to younger voters, for whom issues like the environment, ending the Iraq war, holding the Supreme Court and ridding the country of Bush era policies are paramount, and for whom McCain's very real sacrifices in war, frankly, age him all the more because they stem from a war younger voters only know as the father of unnecessary wars like Iraq. Add McCain's newfound zeal for offshore drilling, and you can imagine his stance helping him close the gap somewhat in Pennsylvania, but widening it in the Sunshine State.

By the way, the other problem with McDrilling is that the notion of despoiling Florida's coastline will, as Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun Times put it on MSNBC this morning, instantly activate a legion of environmental groups like the League of Conservation Voters, who might otherwise have been less exercised by the McCain candidacy. These groups have lists, and they consist of mainly older, supervoters. If McCain's new stance touches off a very real push for drilling in Florida, his stance could fuel increased coordination by environmental groups and perhaps elements of the tourism industry, not only against his candidacy, but against other vulnerable Republicans in November.

I dig deeper into the Florida numbers on the Flapolitics blog, here.


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posted by JReid @ 9:13 AM  
ReidBlog: The Obama Interview
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