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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Teixeira: Rustbelt Vs. Sunbelt, Take 3

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis, is cross-posted from his blog:

The Cook Political Report (CPR) released their initial state electoral college ratings a little while ago and now Sabato’s Crystal Ball (CB) has done the same. It’s interesting to compare the two.

Start with their toss-up categories. CPR had 86 tossup EVs: AZ, FL, MI, PA and WI. CB has only 46 toss-up EVs: since they move MI into lean D and move FL into lean R, while adding only NH and NE-2 into their toss-up category, There are three common toss-up states: AZ, PA and WI.

At the other end of the spectrum, CPR and CB are almost identical. They have the same 125 EVs in their solid/safe (same idea, slightly different term) Republican category, while differing by only one state in their solid/safe Democratic category. CPR has 188 solid D EVs, while CB has 183, since they slot NM into their lean D category.

Probably the most interesting difference is that CB puts 123 EVs into their lean R category, compared to just 39 EVs for CPR. CB puts the following states into the lean R category: FL, GA, IA, ME-2, NC, OH and TX. White CB rates the overall election as a toss-up at this point, that’s a lot of targets for the Democrats that might be within reach.

From CB’s writeup:

“These states will help determine whether the election gets away from Trump or not; put another way, if a Democrat wins any of them, the election is likely over.

This category includes five of the nine most populous states: Texas, Florida, Ohio, Georgia, and North Carolina. Of these states, the Sunshine State is the one that is most arguably a Toss-up. After all, Trump only won the state by about a point in 2016, and Barack Obama carried it twice, including by about a point in 2012. And yet, we’ve seen Republicans, again and again, eke out very close victories in the state, including for Senate and governor in 2018. While we don’t want to put much weight on the midterm results — they just aren’t historically all that predictive of what’s to come in the presidential — we have to say that the fact that the Republicans won both statewide elections, including defeating incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D), was eye-opening to us…..

This decade, Florida has featured two presidential contests, three gubernatorial races, and one Senate race each decided by a margin of 1.2 points or less. The Republicans won all but one of those races. Are the Democrats just unlucky, or does the GOP have a very small but steady edge in Florida?

To start this cycle, we’re going to assume the latter in our ratings.

The other electoral votes in this category can be divided into two groups: growing Sun Belt states that typically are more Republican than the national average that may be becoming less reliably Republican (Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas) and Northern locales that may be getting more Republican, thanks in part to Trump’s appeal among white voters who do not have a four-year college degree (Iowa, Ohio, and Maine’s Second Congressional District, which covers much of the state’s land area). Again, we suspect that a Democratic win in any of these places would be part of a Democratic national victory. The question then becomes how the Democratic nominee opts to use his or her resources: In a state like Iowa or Ohio, which has more recent history voting Democratic but may be trending the other way, or in states like Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas, which may eventually be part of the Democratic coalition but may be difficult for the Democrats to pry away from Trump in the short term. Different Democratic nominees will have different opinions about these strategic questions.”

Worth reading in its entirety.

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