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Obama 304   McCain 221   Ties 13
Senate: Dem 58   GOP 42  
House: Dem 238   GOP 197  

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News from the Votemaster

Tuesday and yesterday we looked at all the previous Veep nominees over the past 60 years. More of them were senators than any other category, although with a senator at the head of the ticket, the nominee might not want another senator. Still, who is swimming in the Veep pool? Let's start with the Democrats and do the Republicans in a few days.

A key decision Barack Obama (or more like, the brain behind his campaign, David Axelrod) has to make is what they want to do with the Veep nomination. Go after a particular state? Go after a particular demographic? Find someone to shore up Obama's weaknesses? One of the possibilities is to try to bind women to the ticket. There are more female voters than male voters and some of them are angry about Hillary Clinton losing, although it is hard for them to blame Obama. All he did was get more delegates. He wasn't really nasty to her, although some other people were. One potential strategy Axelrod could decide on is to try to win based on women, black men, young men, college-educated men, upscale men, and liberal men, and not focus on blue-collar men. Just let them cling to their guns and religion. This would be a major break with the FDR coalition, but it is not inconceivable.

Here are some statistics from the census bureau.

      - 51% of the population is female
      - 16% of the population is 18-29 years of age
      - 24% of the population has a college degree
      - 13% of the population is black
      - 57% of the population makes $50,000 or more.

We can't just add these up to see the size of Obama's pool because then a 29-year-old black man with a college degree making $80,000 would be counted four times. Still, 51% women and 8% young men we are almost at 60% even ignoring the other factors (if someone can find a an orthogona; breakdown with all the categories, e.g. number of white men over 29 without a college degree making under $50,000, please let me know).

In any event, a strategy based on targeting the above five categories (women plus young, educated, black, liberal, or upscale men) is at least plausible. How would he go about that? Since women are by far the biggest group, that argues for putting a woman on the ticket. An obvious candidate is Hillary Clinton, but she has a lot of cons as well as a lot of pros, as discussed here June 6. For argument's sake, suppose he decides that she is too divisive and would bring out every last Clinton hater to vote (when they might otherwise stay at home on election day). What other women are there? As discussed yesterday, many senators have been vice presidential nominees, so let us look at who is in the pool.

Excluding Hillary Clinton, there are 10 female Democratic senators as follows.

  • Barbara Boxer (D-CA) as Veep would make the progressives within the Democratic party jump for joy. She is a real firebrand, but the Republicans would instantly attack the ticket as a couple of left-wing crazies. Furthermore she is from California, a state the Democrats don't need any help with. One state where she might help is Florida. Would all the little old (Jewish) ladies in Broward county who are basically Democrats but lukewarm to Obama vote against a ticket with a Jewish woman on it? She could help in Florida, but she is too easy to caricature as a leftist.

  • Maria Cantwell (D-WA) is a young (49) second-term senator with a progressive record from a state the Democrats normally win anyway. She is Catholic, which may help a little in the rust belt. Her biggest drawback is that she has never been married. The ideal woman is one still on her first husband and with a couple of picture-perfect kids. This is probably a deal breaker. In state politics being single probably doesn't matter, but the national spotlight shines brighter and not all voters nationwide are as progressive as those in Washington. For men, marital status is less important. Double standard? Yeah, but that's life. If she is looking for never-married guy at her achievement level and her age, there is Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), but he's a Republican. Stranger things have happened in politics though: James Carville is married to Mary Matalin.

  • Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is like Boxer, but much more moderate and centrist. She has a long history of being pro business. Like Boxer, having a Jewish woman on the ticket could help in Florida, but probably not in other swing states. Risky, especially since she is 74--older than John McCain.

  • Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) is another young (48) progressive woman like Cantwell, but this one with a husband and a 13-year-old daughter. However she has only been in the Senate 2 years, so the Republicans will attack an Obama/Klobuchar ticket as Mr. and Mrs. Inexperience.

  • Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has her hands full trying to get reelected to the Senate. If she runs for Veep, the Democrats will lose a Senate seat, something that will happen only over DSCC chairman Chuck Schumer's dead body. A nonstarter.

  • Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) is yet another young woman (47) who is considered a moderate and from a state the Democrats might carry with her help, albeit only worth 6 electoral votes. Arkansas is more Democratic than most people think. The governor and both senators are Democrats and the Democrats control three of the four House seats and both houses of the state legislature. She'd be a surprise pick, but not totally impossible.

  • Claire McCaskill (D-MO) has only been in the Senate 2 years but has a long history in state politics. At 54 she brings experience to the ticket. Her biggest assest is being from the mother of all swing states, Missouri, with its 11 electoral votes. Furthermore, Missouri's northern neighbor, Iowa has 7 electoral votes and went for Bush in 2004. If she could bring in those 18 electoral votes, when added to the 252 Kerry got, we have 270 and she becomes Vice President of the United States. This calculation has surely not escaped Axelrod's attention. She's also a Catholic, which helps with a demographic where Obama has had problems. Definitely a sleeper.

  • Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), like Barbara Boxer, is also a strong progressive from a state the Democrats always win no matter what. She is a Polish-American and a Catholic, which could help in the rust belt though. However, she'll hit 72 this summer a month before John McCain, though, which eliminates one of the Democrats' lines of attack--McCain is too old.

  • Patty Murray (D-WA) is 57, Catholic and has been in the Senate 16 years. She voted against going to war with Iraq, which makes her ideologically compatible with Obama on this score. She refers to herself as a mom in tennis shoes. A drawback is that Washington is not a swing state.

  • Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) is a 58-year-old senator from Michigan, a state the Democrats normally win and must win this time. It has been very hard hit economically. Her presence on the ticket would be a clear signal to both women and blue-collar workers that Obama has heard them. On the downside, she is on her second husband, and he was caught in a prostitution sting.

By coincidence, the Washingon Post is also focusing on women today and has a story saying that both parties believe that women may be the key demographic group in 2008. John McCain is actively trying to court all the Hillary Clinton supporters who are so upset that Clinton lost that they promised to vote for McCain. Of course converting a one-time statement of outrage into a vote five months later won't be as easy as he thinks. His chief outreach official is Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard--until she was fired by HP's board of directors for incompetence.

Clearly Barack Obama has his work cut out for him trying to unify the Democratic party after a long and bitter primary. But he is not the only one with this problem. The Hill reports today that at least 14 Republican members of Congress have refused to endorse John McCain, for a variety of reasons and another dozen have refused to say what their position on him is.

CQ Politics has a long article on voting machines and procedures. Executive summary: between partisan election officials and general incompetence up and down the line, it could be a real mess again, for the third straight presidential election.

The Republicans are having enormous trouble recruiting good candidates for the Senate. In states like Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia, where Republicans normally do OK, they have complete nobodies. Politico has a story on this. The best of the bunch is Bob Kelleher, Republican candidate against Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT). Kelleher favors socialized medicine, nationalizing the oil industry, and raising taxes appreciably. Baucus is probably sweating bullets.

New polls in Indiana, Massachusetts, and Michigan today. The Indiana poll puts McCain safely ahead, as expected in this red state. In Michigan, a state Obama cannot afford to lose, it is a statistical tie, with Obama leading 45% to 42%.

State Obama McCain Start End Pollster
Indiana 38% 47% May 27 Jun 01 Ind. Legis. Insight
Michigan 45% 42% Jun 09 Jun 09 Rasmussen
Massachusetts 53% 30% Jun 08 Jun 10 Suffolk U.

In New Jersey a new Senate poll from Quinnipiac University puts Frank Lautenberg ahead of Richard Zimmer 47% to 38%. Zimmer's post nomination bounce lasted one day.

-- The Votemaster
WWW www.electoral-vote.com