Diatribes of Jay

This is a blog of essays on public policy. It shuns ideology and applies facts, logic and math to economic, social and political problems. It has a subject-matter index, a list of recent posts, and permalinks at the ends of posts. Comments are moderated and may take time to appear. Note: Profile updated 4/7/12

12 February 2008

Another Red State, and What a Victory!

Today Senator Obama swept the so-called Potomac Primary. He beat Senator Clinton by double digits in Delaware (53% to 42%), by more than 3 to 1 in the District of Columbia (75% to 24%), by 26% in Maryland (61% to 35%) and by 29% in Virginia (64% to 35%). The last three wins were not just victories; they were routs.

In this post we focus only on red states, at least some of which a Democrat must win to become president. So Delaware, D.C., and Maryland, which were blue in 2004, don’t count. With the electoral tide turning strongly Democratic, any Democrat is likely to win them.

But Virginia is another story. It was a red state and part of the Old South. Richmond, Virginia, was the capital of the Confederacy.

Obama’s stunning victory there suggests that Richard Nixon’s so-called “Southern Strategy”—using race to divide and confuse us, the people— is dead and buried. According to the Washington Post, Obama beat Clinton in Virginia by double digits among women and Latinos, ran even with Clinton among white voters, and beat her by nearly 9 to 1 among African-Americans. Like the rest of us, Southerners of all kinds today want honesty, open government, good judgment, non-ideological problem solving, unity, and hope.

Obama’s landslide in Virginia is momentous for another reason. The most densely populated parts of Virginia are bedroom suburbs for people who work in our nation’s capital. What we call national and international news is local news to them. They know politics and politicians. They are an affluent, well-educated and well-informed group. Their overwhelming vote for Obama should tell us something about the two candidates’ relative merits and prospects for the general election.

Obama’s landslide in Virginia also added to his long list of victories in red states. Here’s an updated version of my red-state table, arranged in descending order of the decisiveness of Obama’s wins. As before, the blue rows show Obama’s wins, the pink Clinton’s, and the darker shades of each color wins by a margin of 2-to-1 or greater.

Red StateObama/Clinton
Vote (percent)
Idaho80/17 - >4 to 1 4
Alaska74/25 - 3 to 1 3
Kansas74/26 - >2.5 to 1 9
Nebraska68/32 - >2 to 1 5
Colorado67/32 - >2 to 1 9
Georgia66/31 2 >2 to 1 15
South Carolina55/27 18 2 to 1 8
Virginia64/35 1 >1.8 to 1 13
North Dakota61/37 1 >1.5 to 1 3
Louisiana57/36 - >1.5 to 1 9
Utah57/39 3 1.5 to 1 5
Alabama 56/42 1 1.3 to 1 9
Iowa38/29 30 1.3 to 1 7
Missouri 49/48 2 1 to 1 11
New Mexico48/49 2 1 to 1 5
Nevada45/51 4 1 to 1 5
Arizona42/51 5 1 to 1.2510
Tennessee41/54 4 < 1 to 1.25 11
Oklahoma31/55 10 <1 to 1.7 7
Arkansas27/69 2 <1 to 2.5 6

Here is an updated version of the second table comparing the electoral votes of the red states that Obama has won with those of the red states that Clinton has won. The second line compares the totals of electoral votes of red states won by a 2-to-1 or greater margin. The third column shows Clinton’s deficits in electoral votes.
Clinton EV Deficit
All red states won1104466
Won by 2-to-1 or greater53647

As explained in my previous post, this analysis suggests that Obama will do far better than Clinton in winning red states, which any Democrat must do to win the presidency. As time goes on even nominally pledged Super Delegates will come to understand who can win.


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