PJ Media

It's All Coming Down to a Few Key States ...

“We like to think our political choices are rational responses to issues of today. The numbers suggest otherwise.”

Michael Barone, August 2008

It is indeed wishful thinking on both sides, and superfluous fodder for the media, to believe more than seven states will ultimately decide the 2008 election.

I’ve explored all lower 48 extensively, most of them recently.

Last month, I gave Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin — all close in 2004 — to Obama. In prior columns, I predicted Ohio and Indiana would go to McCain, as have other experts. About 35-40 states are obvious, leaving roughly a dozen for our insolent mainstream media, both campaigns, and Karl Rove to argue about being “in play.”

Let’s take one more look:

Obama believes West Virginia can go blue. Yet he was demolished in this “wild and wonderful” state by Hillary, and those “bitter folks” in northern Appalachia are hard-working people who will not suddenly embrace his platitudes, murky politics, and stances antithetical to their morals. As PJM’s Jennifer Rubin said, “Obama is a pure academic elitist, who lived in Hyde Park after years of Ivy League education. If he understood working-class people (let alone was one of them), we wouldn’t have had Bittergate.”

Though Democrats historically won Bob Byrd’s state in the past, times have changed, with President Bush winning in 2004 by a whopping 13 points. To knowledgeable pundits, it’s all but conceded that the Mountaineer State is going to the GOP for the third consecutive presidential election. (The last time that occurred was prior to the FDR administration and the New Deal: 1920-28.)

Colorado is not just “The People’s Republic of Boulder,” metro Denver, and assorted ski areas. Though the state could be closer than in 2004 when Bush won by nearly six points, Coloradoans are just not that radical outside of Boulder. Cult-like conventions and energetic crowds bring ephemeral momentum, but Colorado Springs, the state’s next largest city, is conservative (unlike most other second cities). The Springs sits about an hour south of the moderate Denver suburbs and is home to major military bases including the U.S. Air Force Academy and Focus on the Family’s headquarters. Some liberal groups call it “the most conservative place in America.”

Ranchers in the state’s eastern plains are predominantly Republican and have been that way for nearly 40 years. They drive GMC Yukons with their daughter’s softball number on the window, not Subarus with their bikes affixed to roof racks. It’s therefore shortsighted for anyone to speculate a major switch here. Not everyone in the Centennial State is a laggard or Ward Churchill. Don’t forget, McCain also hails from a bordering state and the politics, including social views, of folks in Colorado’s Western Slope run nearly as conservative as those in Utah and Arizona.

As Rubin noted, among much else, on the morning of the Sarah Palin selection, “expect to hear a lot about the ‘western’ governor. I would imagine they would send her frequently to Colorado … and the mountain states thought to be in play.”

The South is not in play, much to the chagrin of the Obama campaign, who, though it has backtracked recently, continuously insists some of these states can go blue. This is not to portray the south as “racist” — capriciously urged by the left, but shown to be a non-issue when one thinks deeply — but since 1964, when the Democrat establishment convinced blacks to vote for them despite their ignominious southern history, the South is solidly Republican. Religion is also paramount. And Obama is a far-left candidate who, despite claiming to be a churchgoer, is most beloved by the secular masses.

Simple math destroys Obama’s southern strategy:

Even the states (Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina) with black populations of over 30% would have to go 100% Obama and have nearly perfect turnout to offset the 80-90% of white southerners, who are the majority and will vote for the “architect of the Surge,” en masse. The “upper south” of Tennessee, Arkansas, and North Carolina is less than 20% black, so they’re safely Republican. And the “deepest south” of Northern Florida is very pro-military and pro-McCain/Palin.

Consider also the putative “Katrina factor.” New Orleans, Southern Mississippi, and other Gulf Coast locales lost a great many to death or relocation in 2005 and 2006. Those who uprooted to Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma were predominantly black and few returned. And despite what the New York Times says, thanks to heroic rescue/relocation efforts like we also saw during Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, many are now enjoying a better, safer life away from the loutish “Big Easy.” As a friend in New Orleans told me, “The South will be even more Republican for 2008, since many Democrat votes are gone.”

The media deduces that because Obama won big sky states in the primaries, he might triumph there in November as well. That’s very quixotic, considering these are the most conservative states in America, with Bush easily winning all of them in 2000 and 2004. If North Dakota and Montana are in play as we’re told, then certainly Maine and Oregon, both much closer in 2004, would be as well. See how silly that sounds? Not that the media has been listening much this past summer.

Bush won North Dakota and Montana by nearly 30 points, so exactly how would the most liberal senator in America win over a man and his running mate respected by both sides for his “originality”? The aggregate total of Democrats in places like Utah, Wyoming, the Dakotas, Idaho, Nebraska, Montana, non-Vegas Nevada, and Kansas is as stunningly low as their ethnic diversity. North Dakota has roughly 6,000 African-Americans. So, though “minorities” may help decide the election, they won’t influence these red states very much. Certainly Michelle Obama’s rhetoric won’t help here either, nor will embracing Jimmy Carter’s bilious views.

As for Sen. McCain’s dreams of winning northeastern states, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a realistic chance — certainly as much as Obama winning Colorado — since the Keystone State contains conservative areas outside the two major cities. Obama angered the “bitter folks,” plenty of them Democrats, with his April San Francisco speech, and 95% of Pennsylvania’s interior counties went to Bush in 2004. Kerry only won by two points; outside of Philly and parts of Pittsburgh, Obama will have to win over many blue-collar social conservatives, including “Reagan Democrats,” who are less than happy with his aberrant views on abortion. Hillary demolished him here in April, so watch the “bitter/cling factor” and watch the Keystone State .

New York is also worth a look, as it’s truly an odd animal. Hillary thumped Barack by more than 17 points in her adopted home state in February, and though Obama should still be able to claim a win here, he’s slipping each day. New York will not be nearly as easy as it was in 2004, when Kerry also won by 17 points.

New York City has more Jews than any city in the world and most polls also show that close to 40% of Jews, a pre-9/11 lock for Democrats, don’t support Obama. That is compared to just 26% and 19% who supported Bush in 2004 and 2000, respectively, and the paltry 11% who voted for Bob Dole in 1996.

I have 12 close friends in the New York City area from ages 24 to 31, who work in various fields, from accounting to advertising. All are registered Democrats from similar backgrounds and all voted for Kerry last election. Eleven of them, in response to a recent email, told me they are voting for John McCain. The one who’s not, an erstwhile supporter of  John Edwards, is undecided.

Why would none of them support Obama? All gave similar answers: they are moderate Democrats, fiscally conservative, but who, more importantly, saw the horrors of 9/11 up close. As one man said, “We lived it; others watched and read about it.” Others wrote me along the lines of “McCain is the more centrist candidate,” and “Obama’s sketchy foreign policy will not keep us safe from a terrorist attack.” Readers of the Wall Street Journal, they know McCain, for better or worse, is anything but a third term for Bush. That is telling, and worth watching.

These New Yorkers confirm that it’s not a bunch of mossbacks who are preempting the coronation of our first (half) black president; it’s more likely politics, inexperience, naiveté, empty rhetoric, European vacations , out-of-touch elitism, PUMAs, socialist tendencies, or his relationships with nefarious folks.

That said, the McCain camp, despite his obvious advantage in experience, would need to be extremely sanguine to anticipate coloring New York red on November 4. Though recently they have run a brilliant campaign and despite upstate NY being conservative, New York City comprises nearly half the state’s population and the area is tailor-made for Obama, especially Manhattan: diverse, wealthy, young, fawning media, counter-culture, oblivious to serious issues like infanticide, and, outside of Staten Island, not as many working-class, culturally conservative “Jacksonian Democrats” (cops, firefighters, et al.) as you’d see in Pennsylvania or Ohio.

And of course, the rest of America is pretty well-settled in terms of red and blue. Though most state’s physical area is red, the urban areas, their immediate suburbs, and college towns go blue. You can plant Rhode Island, Vermont, and Massachusetts for Obama just as easily as planting Oklahoma , Wyoming, and Texas for McCain. And though California voted for Hillary, in a state where Kerry won by nearly 10% and a GOP senator’s death is celebrated, it will be hard for a Republican not named Reagan to win there for a while.

An analogy worth noting is that, like “Barry” Obama, George McGovern and Barry Goldwater drew enormous crowds and excitement. The former captured just one state, while the latter managed six. Youths working and standing in long lines for tickets may look good on television, but it’s also transparent and exudes ignorance. It is in fact those “dotards” over 65, voting in larger blocks, that regularly have the final say.

Bottom line: unless he wins Ohio and Florida , Obama is still searching for three or four Bush states to turn his way in order to gain his expected victory. I have not seen them. The 2008 map will be similar to 2004, which is amazing, considering the low opinion of the current president and the baseless claims of McCain filling a third Bush term.

PJM’s Victor Davis Hanson summed everything up best back in a June column here:

In a year that for historical and contemporary reasons should be a Democratic shoo-in, the Democrats have nominated about the only candidate who can lose in November, the Republicans the only one of their own who can still win it.

Is there any argument that has been made to counter this or similar salient logic? Not yet, and it’s getting awfully late.