Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Electoral Math favors Clinton?

Everyone is freaking out about superdelegates, credentials, brokered conventions, Youtube, "hope" and so forth. Once again, people are so fixated on vote totals, about who is two points ahead against McCain this week, they are missing some very fundamental points.

The web site Electoral-vote.com has just gone live with a set of projected electoral maps that is fascinating. While Senator Obama is once again winnning the projected popular vote vs. Senator McCain by a larger margin than Senator Clinton, when you look at the projected electoral college, the situation is very different: Clinton beats McCain by a substantial electoral margin, and Obama loses, by about the same margin.

The interesting thing is that Obama puts a lot more states into play than Clinton, who lives up to her reputation as a polarizing figure. So Obama swings a lot of small states into the weakly democrat category and a lot of solid Republican states become weak Republican states. Good for him. BUT Senator Clinton flips Florida to the blue, and that is what makes the difference. No wonder she's hanging in there. I would too.

As many other people have noticed, Senator Clinton's natural strategy will be a traditional democratic "big state" strategy such as we have seen from John Kerry and Al Gore before him. Senator Obama on the other hand is better suited to a Howard Dean-style 50-state strategy, where a passel of little states could bleed the Republicans to death despite their taking Florida.

All this has serious practical consequences. McCain is financially weaker than either Clinton or Obama is likely to be, and cannot afford to make any wrong bets. Consequently, his campaign must be in a panic trying to decide which of two *very* different opponents to prepare for. If he invests money now to defend (the Midwest against Obama, he may lose Florida to Clinton. If he ignores the Midwest too long, winning Florida may be a poor consolation for a loss to Obama.

Running a campaign means getting expensive people on the ground *now*, which both democratic campaigns have already. You should see what they're doing in Texas! Senator McCain may find himself way behind the 8-ball in states where he would normally enjoy a big advantage. There must be some people tearing their hair about about this protracted democratic navel-gaze. I think it's good for the Democrats!

Now, these projections have to be taken with a grain or two tons of salt, but it's the electoral vote that counts, as we all know, and not what's a "big state", who's got momentum, or what my pastor's hairdresser said on youtube.

No comments: