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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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