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.