Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Red Northeast?: Guiliani as Nominee (Why Hillary Must Win)

See below (10/2/07) for an analysis of the absurdity of Rudy Guiliani's memo claiming that he is a lock for 210 electoral votes were he to be the GOP nominee, versus Hillary Clinton's lock on MA and VT in a hypothetical "subway series" Guiliani - Clinton matchup. So they claim. It's rediculous in a number of ways, outlined in that previous post.

However, there is a certain peril presented to the Democratic party if Guiliani is ultimately the GOP nominee. It is simple: certain states that are reliably blue will be in play if he is the GOP nominee and Hillary Clinton is not the Democratic nominee. Guiliani, a New Yorker, cuts into the Democratic base in New York / New England in a way that, for example, Mitt Romney from Massachusetts does not appear to do. If he were to be nominated, the electoral map and the strategy that the Democratic nominee would have to employ would be radically different from any recent election.

Look at New York. I believe strongly that in a head-to-head matchup, Hillary Clinton would win the home state she shares with Guiliani. All of the one year out (roughly) polling supports this. As evidence, I offer Quinnipac's NY poll released today. That poll asked the central question that I am exploring here. Answer: she beats Guiliani in NY by 11 points. Obama would tie Rudy. Edwards would lose NY to Guiliani. A Democrat cannot, by any reasonable calculus, win the Presidency having lost New York. Hillary Clinton is the only Democrat who can win NY against Republican Guiliani. (Also, see SUSA on this point. Recent poll, Clinton 22 points over Guiliani in New York. This survey is another example of Hillary winning New York against Rudy, while Obama and Edwards lose to him.) The 31 electoral votes that NY brings to the Democrats should not be lightly treated by those who would support another Democratic candidate.

New England, generally, follows the same trend as New York in this Clinton vs. Guiliani scenario. Massachusetts, the most populus state in the New England region, is not competitive if Romney is the Republican nominee. In spite of his one-term stint as governor of that commonweath, Romney loses handily to all potential Democratic nominees. (Example: yesterday's SUSA poll of MA likely voters. Obama vs. Romney: Obama wins handily, as do Clinton and Edwards.) But if Guiliani were the GOP nominee, the numbers change a bit. According to SUSA (the most recent polling data from MA), Clinton beats Guiliani by 24 points, which is roughly the norm for a Democratic presidential nominee in MA. With Edwards and Obama, a race against Guiliani are too close for comfort. The Obama and Edwards leads are not large enough to put Massachusetts' 12 crucial electoral votes in their pocket and move onto more traditional battlegrounds. Interestingly, this is a point where Guiliani's memo was correct. He is not competitive in Massachusetts against Hillary Clinton. He is competitive against the other two.

Connecticut offers the same scenario. Clinton and Guiliani are competitive-ish, but Clinton would probably win. Obama and Edwards would probably lose. Rhode Island is probably much the same, though polling is scarce. Polling data for a general election is equally scant in upper New England, but assuming that the same conundrum faces Democrats other than Hillary Clinton, the seven electoral votes held by those two states are electoral votes that I would like to see remain in the Democratic column. New Hampshire is an anomoly in the region. NH voted for Bill Clinton twice, Bush in 2000 and Kerry in 2004. It is a close purple state that both Republican and Democratic candidates are going to have to spend money to win, no matter who the nominees are.

The 61 electoral votes that New York and the New England states (excepting NH) reliably offer to the Democrats are crucial. Without them, neither Gore nor Kerry would have been close to the Presidency. We should consider the impact of a possible Guiliani nomination on these votes, and what we can do to keep them in our column.

The outcome of elections is often a function of resources. New York and Boston are incredibly expensive media markets. The less money a candidate has to spend there, the more they can spend (and get greater bang for their buck) in places like Denver and Cincinatti and Sarasota. Hillary would have the luxury of spending the money elsewhere, playing offense in previously red states, and winning some of them. The other Dems would have to play massive defense in the expensive Northeast markets, and would likely lose some or most of these states in the end. This would be a disaster.

President Bush's cruel and strange veto of the SCHIP bill today illustrates the immediate importance of a Democratic president. It amuses me that so many Democrats are concerned about electability, which is valid, but then use that point as an warrant for nominating Obama or Edwards. That line of argumentation flies in the face of reason or current facts on the ground. Regardless of whom the Republicans choose, I believe that Sen. Clinton is the best choice because of her principles, demonstrated leadership, proven record of winning by beating the Republican filth machine, and her electability. If someone other than Guiliani is nominated, maybe another Democratic candidate could win. It would be closer and messy. Hillary would be the best choice in that circumstance, as well. But, if Guiliani is the Republicans' standard bearer, only the Senator from New York can win that competition. Democrats who are concerned with electability should with that consideration very carefully when casting their primary ballots.

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