Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Obama's electoral math?

Many, many folks are all aflutter over Barack Obama's announcement that he will create an exploratory committee for 2008 and almost certainly declare for the presidency sometime in February.

Now, I'm big on Obama as a man. I saw the 2004 convention. The only speech worth listening to was his. Obama has held his own with conservatives who believe the church is only for Republicans. He is basing his campaign in Chicago, Illinois with a bunch of people that were not on either Gore's or Kerry's teams. I view the first as a drawback, but the second as a plus.

However, I do have my concerns. The first is what is in his closet? In 2003, Obama was a little known state senator in Illinois. His 2004 race was a cakewalk, so no one has dug the dirt on him. He may be clean as a whistle. I just don't know. I'd be more comfortable with a guy that has been through the ringer once or twice already. I don't want to be surprised with a 'banging the mistress on the side' allegation in October 2008.

My second concern is how does Obama change the electoral map? Will he do so on his persuasive speech alone? Assuming you'd like something more than that, let's take a look at which states, if any, he can move into the Democratic column.

2004 Electoral Map

Looking back at the 2004 campaign, Obama needs to capture all the states Kerry did and get either one big state or two smaller ones to switch from red to blue.

It is probably safe to assume that the southern states, already leaning or solidly Republican will not back a black candidate. It is also probably safe to say that the Democrats will take all the states they took in 2004 again, with the possible exception of Minnesota and/or Wisconsin.

The less populated plains states will stay solidly Republican, with the exception of Missouri, which could go either way. Of course, Ohio is back in play. I see 3 western states available - CO, NM, AZ (unless McCain is the Republican nominee)

The fight could come down to Ohio again (it certainly would with a Hillary campaign), but from the looks of it, if Obama can convince midwesterners he is worth backing, he could probably win the presidency. Playing on the fact that his mother is from Kansas and that he represents a good midwestern state of Illinois, he might be able to get the votes he needs. He'll need to keep MN and WI, plus pick up Missouri. He'll need to pick up one of the western states as well, if he doesn't get Ohio. Considering his pretty liberal views and his opposition to guns, that could be a tough call.

While not the horse I'll be backing in the primaries, if Obama is the nominee it won't be easy for him to win the presidency, but it wouldn't be impossible either.

What do you think? Is my analysis correct? Does the road to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave run through the Great Plains for Obama?