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September 30, 2007

State-by-State Electability Roundup

by Nicholas Beaudrot of Electoral Math

Survey USA now has lots of head-to-heads. I'm going to do a condensed table, where each entry gives the margin of victory of Clinton/Obama/Edwards against Giuliani/Romney/Thompson for each candidate:

AL -11/-1/-13 -27/-17/-26 -10/+6/-12
CA +20/+33/+26 +4/+15/+16 +2/+31/+28
IA +8/+7/+6 +8/+10/+10 +14/+16/+17
KS -12/+1/-13 -11/+6/-10 -10/+14/-7
KY -10/0/-5 -18/-2/-17 -8/+10/+1
MN +11/+23/+13 +4/+20/+8 +8/+27/+16
MO -3/+11/+3 +2/+11/+3 +5/+23/+10
NM +8/+15/+11 0/+19/+11 +4/+20/+15
OH -1/+10/+1 -13/-1/-8 -1/+20/+9
OR +2/+13/+7 0/+18/+5 +3/+18/+15
VA +6/+15/+7 +1/+12/-1 +5/+19/+10
WA 0/+14/+10 +11/+12/+14 +1/+14/+15
WI +4/+9/+2 +3/+15/+5 -1/+18/+9

First off, we should all be praying for an John Edwards-Mitt Romney matchup, which at first blush would appear to put the entire country into play, though that may be partially due to Romney's low name recognition.

Second, Rudy Giuliani is far and away the most electable Republican.

Third, Barack Obama's "Mississippi will become competitive" argument does not seem to be born out. Increasing black turnout in the South is certainly salutary, but to overcome Obama's disadvantage among whites in the Deep South, African-American turnout would have to increase at least fifty percent.

Fourth, Edwards has a significant advantage over Clinton against both Romney and Fred Thompson in a number of states (AL, IA, KS, KY, MO, NM, OH, OR, WA).

Finally, against Giuliani, Clinton has an advantage of more than 2% in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and New Mexico [I'm handwaving over the California result], while Edwards has an advantage in Iowa and Missouri. With polls showing Clinton faring best in Florida, I think this means the current balance of poll results favors Clinton against Rudy, but Edwards against the rest of field. A certain chunk of the public is undecided but at the moment does not want to vote for Clinton.

September 30, 2007 | Permalink


I still believe Giuliani isn't nearly as electable as people believe. If Clinton is beating him by at least 10-11 points in New York, with the Sienna poll showing her destroying him by 21 points, what are we supposed to infer other than the notion that the rest of the country will soon realize what we New Yorkers realize? And while there's almost certainly a higher percentage of people not willing to vote for Clinton as opposed to Obama or Edwards, there's a certain portion of the electorate that won't vote for any Democrat, ever. I'd guess there's a pretty big overlap between the two, so it doesn't make sense to say she's particularly unelectable. This portion of the country isn't the slice we will be going after. The portion that may be slightly hostile to the Clinton they think they know will probably be surprised that she's not a fire-breathing monster, like the Republicans want everyone to believe.

Posted by: Brian | Oct 1, 2007 12:24:19 AM

How can Edwards and Obama only be beating Giuliani in California by 2 and 4 percent? I know the interior can be pretty red, but that just seems way wierd. And what, those same people love Hillary so she beats rudi by 20 percent? Naaaaah. Did you leave a digit off for Obama and Edwards or somehow did we get a 15% plus name recognition boost for giuliani over the other two dems at this point? Still seems crazy to me. Real crazy.

Posted by: greg | Oct 1, 2007 12:32:13 AM

Three notes for you:

"First off, we should all be praying for an John Edwards-Mitt Romney matchup"

Quite true, but worth noting that since Edwards performs best against all three Republican candidates, we should all be praying for an Edwards nomination no matter who the GOP puts up.


This is a general election rundown from earlier this week, so it's missing the latest SUSA polls.

But it's well worth a look for it's hilarious and comprehensive presentation. If you ever want to know what the matchup situation looks like on acid, here ya go.


This is an excellent example of the flip side of Clinton's general election problems - the fact that she might drag the Party down in House and Senate races.

The LATimes talked to Mountain West Congressional Dems who see problems for themselves if Clinton is the nominee.

Posted by: Petey | Oct 1, 2007 12:40:25 AM

This is quite encouraging - Edwards appears in better shape than those rascally liberal media would have me believe.

Edwards/Obama vs Giuliani/Satan in '08!

Posted by: craigie | Oct 1, 2007 12:54:23 AM

craigie - If Giuliani picks Satan for VP, Edwards better go with Kali.

Posted by: muldoon | Oct 1, 2007 4:31:09 AM

I still think the most useful thing this dataset tells us is the amazing overall strength of the Dems - except for Thompson, all three could take Kansas, just to point to one. That's pretty remarkable at this stage. I still don't think you can draw a lot of conclusions about which Dem vs. which GOPer would be the most wonderful matchup - it's still early, and many people are nowhere near paying attention enough to know all these people and their relative similarities and differences. And given a lot of the discussion over this weekend, I think something we all need to reiterate is that first and foremost, we'd rather have a Democrat than a Republican. The specifics of which Democrat is something to sort out in the primaries, and I think given the strength in the whole field, we should realize that winning the Presidency remains a realistic expectation, whoever we nominate, and act accordingly.

Posted by: weboy | Oct 1, 2007 6:42:29 AM

On the other hand, a Kucinich / Keyes matchup would be very interesting.

Posted by: El_Cid | Oct 1, 2007 8:06:33 AM

Well, sure, El Cid... who would dispute that? :)

Posted by: weboy | Oct 1, 2007 8:07:45 AM

Well, I just realized, that in a Kucinich / Keyes matchup, no one could just buy bumper stickers or window stickers that said "K".

Or they could, and be making an ironic in-joke.

Posted by: El_Cid | Oct 1, 2007 8:25:32 AM

Hmmm, I wish these covered more states.

Posted by: North | Oct 1, 2007 9:28:45 AM

This electability meme really needs to be put to bed.
First, it’s a bloody thirteen months before the general election. Given that fifteen to twenty-five percent of voters make their minds up less than a month before an election polls this early have about as much predictive power as the prophecies of Nostradamus. We simply have no idea how events in the next year will effect voters’ perceptions.
Second, one of the lessons few people appear to grasp is a candidate’s political skills and the effectiveness of the campaign organization really matters. A good candidate with a strong organization will almost always beat an ineffective candidate with a weak organization. Just look at the last five presidential elections, particularly 1988 and 1996. Dukakis of course lost a double digit lead during the fall, and Dole was somehow unable to mobilize the vast numbers of Republican votes who supposedly would walk over broken glass in their bare feet to defeat a Clinton.
Which leads to my third point, which is that we all have a very poor understanding of the electorate. Take the widely held assertion that if Hillary wins the nomination it will generate an enormous anti-Clinton vote that will swamp Democrats along the line. Given the frequency and vehemence of Hillary hating comments on most blog sites there might be something to this. I do have one question though. So far, why has this never happened in a real election? If Hillary is such a flawed candidate and such a repugnant personality how come the Republicans weren’t able to come up with a half way decent candidate to run against her in 2000 and 2006? For God’s sakes she got nearly 67% of the vote in her last election. Franklin Roosevelt never got more than 58% running state wide in New York. And yes , New York is a strong Democratic state, but it’s not that strong.
Finally, considering how terribly weak the GOP candidates are this election, I think we really ought to focus on which of our candidates will do the best job as President. Major political realignments occur when a new administration manages to solve, or at least make a convincing effort at solving, major national problems. Rove-Bush’s fatal mistake was assuming that they could create a lasting governing majority solely through political manipulations. In the final analysis it’s results that matter. We should be very wary of supporting a candidate simply because of eloquence, personal comfort or ideological agreement. Instead, we ought to ask which candidate has the hard-headed realism, historical perspective, grasp of detail, intellectual discipline, communication skills and understanding of how to create and implement public policy. And if there’s a candidate with in depth knowledge and direct experience how both Congress and the Presidency actually works , then to me the choice is very obvious. That this candidate is one of the most progressive running is all the better. You doubt this? Look at two analysis of Congressional voting records:
Name Overall Score Rank in Senate House
Biden 84.43 31/100
Clinton 91.88 14/100
Dodd 86.96 26/100
Kucinich 87.41 119/433
Obama 90.60 20/100
Progressive Punch (http://progressivepunch.com) gives a progressive score for all current members of Congress based on votes on 160 different categories of issues.
By Charles Green
National Journal
© National Journal Group Inc.
Monday, Aug. 30, 2004
Life Time Averages
1. Mark Dayton, D-Minn. (2000) 90.3
2. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md. (1976) 89.4
3. Jack Reed, D-R.I. (1996) 89.3
4. Jon Corzine, D-N.J. (2000) 88.8
5. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. (1962) 88.6
6. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. (1992) 88.5
7. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa (1984) 87.6
8. Richard Durbin, D-Ill. (1996) 87.3
9. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. (1982) 86.2
10. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. (1974) 86.0
11. John Kerry, D-Mass. (1984) 85.7
12. Carl Levin, D-Mich. (1978) 85.5
13. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. (2000) 83.9
14. Patty Murray, D-Wash. (1992) 83.8
14. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. (2000) 83.8
16. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. (1986) 82.4
16. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. (1998) 82.4
18. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii (1990) 82.0
19. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. (2000) 81.0
20. Russell Feingold, D-Wis. (1992) 80.0
21. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. (1996) 79.8
22. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn. (1980) 78.9
23. Tom Daschle, D-S.D. (1986) 78.8
24. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va. (1984) 77.3
25. Joseph Biden, D-Del. (1972) 76.6
25. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii (1962) 76.6
27. John Edwards, D-N.C. (1998) 75.7

Posted by: Ben F | Oct 1, 2007 10:24:07 AM

The problem with the Progressive Punch indexing is that for the past 12 years all it really shows is loyalty as opposition. We haven't seen much real progressive legislation offered by our current slate of Democratic candidates which is disappointing and even more disappointing now that they are on the campaign trail.

Posted by: Ricky | Oct 1, 2007 11:20:36 AM

Finally, considering how terribly weak the GOP candidates are this election, I think we really ought to focus on which of our candidates will do the best job as President.

I agree and see that as an argument for nominating Edwards. Your 'data' support the opposite conculsion is rather weak.

Posted by: jonnybutter | Oct 1, 2007 12:43:34 PM

Electability is one of my least favorite forms of expediency. There are times when I feel I'm comprimising my real beliefs just voting dem (as opposed to a more progressive 3rd party.) So there's no way in hell that I'm going to further comprimise myself by using the primaries to determine not which Dem has the best policies, but who I think most American's would want to go with on a fishing trip or however other nonsensical way we define "electability." The reality is, "electability" is too often synonymous with who is the most middle or the road (which is my biggest objection to the Dems anyways.) I don't see any justification for someone who calls themselves a true progressive prioritizing electability over, or even anywhere near policy.

Having said that, its good to see that Edwards (who I think clearly has the best policy for any real progressive) is actually very electable because hopefully that persuades the masses who care about electability to vote for the guy, even if its for the wrong reason. I never udnerstood why people think Edwards would have electability issues. Sure he won't be able to spend as much money as Hilary or Obama, but his style is very broadly appealing. Frankly, the front-runner, Hilary, has the most electability issues.

Posted by: Matt | Oct 1, 2007 3:57:03 PM

John Edwards is indeed the most electable candidate among the top three. However, this doesn't matter to me because I think all of them are electable against any of the Republicans. I'll go further and say that the issue of electability in the 2008 election is basically a canard. It's impossible to make those predictions with confidence and invariably the arguments will turn on which candidate one happens to like or dislike.

I personally am making my choice purely based on who I think will be the best President.

Posted by: Korha | Oct 1, 2007 9:23:07 PM

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