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The Top Ten States than McCain can ‘turn red’.

March 17, 2008

Where should the Senator from Arizona try to target first?

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As the article above speculates, McCain is going to try to target a lot of states that Kerry won in 2004. However, given that McCain doesn’t know who the Democratic nominee will be, McCain should give priority to states where both candidates are weak and ones which carry significant numbers of electoral votes. Of course this doesn’t mean that McCain is limited to these states, as Obama’s nomination could conceivably see McCain attacking solidly blue states such as California in pursuit of a fifty state blow-out (though I would predict that McCain would win between forty and forty-five states in a matchup with Obama). However, it makes sense to given some profiles of the ten best states for him to focus on.

Pennsylvania – This state should be one of McCain’s prime targets. It’s one of the six swing states and one of the few states that he is projected to take from both Obama and Clinton on my crude match-ups. This blue-collar state has traditionally been extremely receptive to National Security issues, especially since one the 9/11 planes crashed in the state. It’s 21 electoral votes are extremely important while Governor Tom Ridge’s success proves that Republicans can do well here.

Michigan – This is another swing state that is rich in electoral votes. However, although McCain crushed Bush in the 2000 primary, Mitt Romney’s victory in January shows he cannot take the state for granted, especially if the campaign is dominated by the economy and healthcare rather than foreign policy. The Iraqi population in Detroit might be a fertile source of votes in a foreign policy dominated election. My crude projections have this a marginal state (irrespective of who is the nominee).

Wisconsin – As mentioned by visitors to this site, Wisconsin is a generally more dovish state. However, its size and marginality make it a worthwhile target. It has the distinction of being one of the few states where the Republicans did better in the 2006 congressional elections than those two years later. Indeed, the Republican congressional vote was higher than that of the Democrats in 2006, indicating a strong state party.

Illinois – Obviously, this state will not be a target if Obama is the Democrat’s choice. However, if Hillary snatches the nomination (and I would put her as a slight favourite) it’s twenty-one electoral votes will be fully up for grabs. At the very worst, targeting such a state would force Hillary to spend time and resources defending it, giving McCain a psychological boost.

New York – This may seem a surprising choice since the Empire State has not gone Republican since 1984. However, Obama’s association with Jeremiah Wright has made this a possible target if the Senator from Illinois limps to the nomination. What could be better for a Republican than standing on the steps of Ground Zero flanked by policemen and firemen while ‘God Bless America’ plays in the background? The fact that the New York and New Jersey media markets overlap is also a bonus, while New York’s 34 electoral votes won’t come amiss. McCain will have to make sure though that Giuliani’s role as a surrogate doesn’t alienate the support of first responders, who endorsed him in the primary.

New Jersey – It is a more realistic target than New York and can be flipped relatively easily if Obama is McCain’s opponent. Indeed, McCain has a realistic shot at winning it even if Hillary Clinton is on the Democratic ticket. Its fifteen electoral votes are very important to McCain’s chances of winning the White House.

Oregon – Oregon has only seven electoral college votes. However, it will be a target whoever the Democratic nominee is. It’s marginality should compensate for its small size in the electoral college, although it probably won’t be a very top priority.

Maryland – This state has traditionally been seen as solidly blue, especially because of the large African-American populations in Baltimore and the outflow from Washington DC. Against Obama, McCain stands little chance. However, if Clinton is the nominee then McCain may be able to capitalise on the support of disillusioned Obama supporters. After all, this state is technically (according to the census bureau) a Southern state and its ten electoral votes cannot be sniffed at.

Massachusetts – The polls indicate that this state could be in play if Obama is the nominee. Not only is it worth twelve electoral votes but what could be more audacious than trying to steal the very symbol of Democratic liberalism from the Donkey? Rumour has it that the current Senator, one Mr John Kerry, may be facing a tough challenge this year.

New Hampshire – This is another state where Obama and Clinton are currently vulnerable in. It is also a state where McCain won primary victories in both 2000 and 2008. However, it is worth only four electoral college votes, making it poor value for money and time. Unfortunately, as Joe Lieberman will probably tell McCain, you can’t afford to write off any marginal state.

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4 comments

  1. For whatever reason, Mr. McCain does better against Mrs. Clinton in some states and better against Mr. Obama in others. However, there are a few states that will very difficult for Mr. McCain to win no matter who he faces in the General. MA, NY, MD and even IL are very difficult states to win under any senario. Oregon is at least winable for Mr. McCain, like the the of Washington, the interior region of the state is very Conservative and Republican.


  2. […] "As the article above speculates, McCain is going to try to target a lot of states that Kerry won in 2004. However, given that McCain doesn’t know who the Democratic nominee will be, McCain should give priority to states where both candidates are weak and ones which carry significant numbers of electoral votes. Of course this doesn’t mean that McCain is limited to these states, as Obama’s nomination could conceivably see McCain attacking solidly blue states such as California in pursuit of a fifty state blow-out (though I would predict that McCain would win between forty and forty-five states in a matchup with Obama). However, it makes sense to given some profiles of the ten best states for him to focus on."The Top Ten States than McCain can ‘turn red’. « The Political Tipster […]


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  4. If anyone is left here who thinks you have a grip on American politics, they are on their way out the door now.

    Illinois, New York, and Massachusetts? Just the inclusion of Massachusetts in this list should be enough to tip anyone off to the fact that you are 100% clueless. Mass?



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