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Clinton vs. Obama: Who Is Winning the Battleground States?

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On Wednesday, Smart Politics broke down the race for the Democratic nomination utilizing the math of the Electoral College vote (to date, Hillary Clinton has won states with 267 Electoral College votes, including Florida, compared to just 202 for Barack Obama).

Obviously, and by no means, did that entry imply that such a method was a predictor of a general election matchup between John McCain and Clinton or McCain and Obama. Nor did it even mean to suggest that Clinton would perform better than Obama in the key battleground states she has won in the battle for the nomination.

However, Smart Politics does stand by its stance that it would behoove the Clinton campaign to utilize this scoring method as a way to further the general point it is trying to make in the media that the New York Senator is, in fact, winning the big battleground states that Democrats will have to win in November to take back the White House.

But it must first be established that the general argument being made by the Clinton campaign is specious—and it is. There are several reasons why it could very well be the case that Obama is better suited to win some of the battleground states that Clinton has carried throughout the Democratic primary contests.

For one, Obama has largely outperformed Clinton among both independents and Republicans. In matchup polls with McCain, Obama is generally drawing about 5 percentage points more than Clinton among both Republican and non-affiliated voters (though there are several exceptions, especially in GOP-leaning border states).

Secondly, the reason Clinton has been winning some of these battleground and Republican-leaning primary states is because these contests were closed to only registered Democratic voters. Such states include Ohio, Florida, New Jersey, and Arizona. Clinton was also helped to rack up victories in solid Democratic states like Connecticut, New York, California, and Rhode Island because they were closed or semi-closed primaries—preventing a chunk of Obama supporters from participating in the process.

That said, the Clinton campaign could easily blur these points by pointing to the larger argument that she is nonetheless winning the battleground states with bigger Electoral College votes.

Clinton has won 10 true battleground or Republican-leaning states that are crucial puzzle pieces to a Democratic victory in November: Florida (27 Electoral College votes), Pennsylvania (21), Ohio (20), New Jersey (15), Tennessee (11), Arizona (10), Arkansas (5), Nevada (5), New Mexico (5), and New Hampshire (4). These states total 124 Electoral College votes.

Obama has won 8 battleground or Republican-leaning states, but with much smaller prizes—totaling just 80 Electoral College votes: Virginia (13), Washington (11), Missouri (11), Minnesota (10), Wisconsin (10), Colorado (9), Louisiana (9), and Iowa (7).

Whether or not Clinton is actually performing better than Obama in these battleground states in head-to-head matchups with McCain is not the issue for the Clinton media campaign, but this query will be analyzed in an upcoming entry here at Smart Politics.

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1 Comment


  • I want mrs clinton to win. I am a black woman and I think mrs clinton would do a very nice job. track record is what I am going by. I want her to win. The Obma concept is nice but I dont know if he is ready for the things to come woman power I say.

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    Remains of the Data

    Who Has Won the Most Votes in US Senate Electoral History?

    Only three of the Top 10 and nine of the Top 50 vote-getters of all time are currently serving in the chamber.

    Political Crumbs

    Six for Thirteen

    Collin Peterson remarked last month that he is leaning to run for reelection to Minnesota's 7th Congressional District in 2016. If he does and is victorious, he will creep even closer to the top of the list of the longest-serving U.S. Representatives in Minnesota history. The DFL congressman is only the sixth Minnesotan to win at least 13 terms to the U.S. House of the 135 elected to the chamber in state history. Peterson trails 18-term DFLer Jim Oberstar (1975-2011), 16-term Republicans Harold Knutson (1917-1949) and August Andresen (1925-1933; 1935-1958), and 14-term DFLers Martin Sabo (1979-2007) and John Blatnik (1947-1974). Andresen died in office, Sabo and Blatnik retired, and Knutson and Oberstar were defeated at the ballot box in 1948 and 2010 respectively. At 70 years, 7 months, 11 days through Monday, Peterson is currently the ninth oldest Gopher State U.S. Representative in history. DFLer Rick Nolan of the 8th CD is the seventh oldest at 71 years, 1 month, 23 days.


    Seeing Red

    Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


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