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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Focus: Swing States and Electoral Votes

In long range terms, true blue Dems should be all about the 50 State Strategy, though we may differ on shorter range strategy options. With this in mind, we kick off the New Year — and campaign ’08 — with a look at margins of victory in key swing states in ’04. Swing State Project’s, DavidNYC has a post listing states that voted for Kerry or Bush in ’04 by a margin of less than 10 percentage points. The list includes 21 swing states, here broken down into subcategories (- denotes voting margins for Bush):
Squeekers (0 to 1% margin): WI (0.38); IA (-0.67); and NM (-0.79)
Nail-biters (1 to 3% margin): NH (1.37); OH (-2.10); PA (2.50); and NV (-2.59)
Swingers (3 to 5% margin): MI (3.42); MN (3.48); OR (4.16); and CO (4.67)
Winnables (5 to 8% margin): FL (-5.01); NJ (6.68); WA (7.8); MO (-7.2); DE (7.6)
Do-ables (8 to 10% margin): VA (-8.20); HI (8.75); ME (8.99); AR (-9.76;) and CA (9.95);
Any of these 21 states could provide the pivot in a close election. Nail-biters OH and PA merit heightened concern because they rank 6th and tied for 5th, respectively in electoral votes among all states. Winnables FL and NJ also rank among the top ten of all states in electoral votes. The good news is Dems did extremely-well in ’06 state-wide races in top ten electoral vote states, and demographic trends generally favor Dems in all of them.
Democratic candidates and campaigners will have to navigate the complex demographics, political geography, polls and candidate profiles of the swing states, with an eye focused on building support among swing constituencies and independent voters. Meanwhile, Dem strategists should read the Swing State article and comment thread, which contains some interesting tips for different states.