Electoral math

There’s a reason why the GOP has won two-thirds of the presidential elections held since LBJ left office. By the late 1960s, the electoral map that defined the New Deal coalition was in tatters; once Nixon (and then Reagan) coaxed the sunbelt/southern states out of the Democratic orbit, a political realignment toward the GOP took place that endures today. Even now, for all the talk of 2008 being a potential “realigning” election, Obama has yet to fundamentally redraw the electoral map, though he has come closer to doing so than any other Democrat since Bill Clinton.

Nonetheless, by way of perspective, consider this: if the situation were reversed, and the Democrats had presided over a collapsing economy and a relentless quagmire of a war, they wouldn’t be looking at electoral totals in the three-digits.  (McCain is at about 150 right now, and will probably rack up a lot more than that).  They’d be looking at being on the wrong end of yet another blowout a la 1980, or even 1984 or 1972.  Again, that’s because of the electoral math.  The worst-case scenario for the GOP in any election is to win most of the south and midwest.  The GOP could run Bugs Bunny, and he’d still pick up those states (“he’s a friend to small-towns . . .he’s a true American”).  But (as the 1972/1984 elections show), the worst case scenario for the Democrats involves them picking up D.C., and maybe the candidate’s home state.  It’s not that Obama can’t turn this election into a blowout; it’s just that Democratic blowouts look very different than Republican ones. But if he becomes president-elect next Tuesday, he won’t be complaining.


5 Responses to “Electoral math”

  1. meesh Says:

    i won’t believe anything until next tuesday….

  2. Jeff Eaton Says:

    I wonder if this is reversible; Republican gains over the past couple of decades have come via increasingly strident “they be demons” othering attacks. This election cycle seems to be (at least to me) an indication of that tactic hitting the end of its useful political lifespan. I mean, the Democrats ran a black guy with a Muslim name who wants to give everyone health insurance… and he’s actually winning.

    On the other hand, conventional wisdom dictates that Republican victories are an indication of the country moving right, while Democratic victories are an indication of the democrats moving right. Curious to see how what sort of narrative will emerge from an Obama blowout.

    Picked up Mirrored Heavens on a whim last week and loved it, by the way. Glad to have discovered an interesting blog in the process, too…

  3. David J. Williams » Blog Archive » President Who??? Says:

    […] David J. Williams Autumn Rain 2110 « Electoral math […]

  4. David Williams Says:

    @Meesh . . . I’m with ya. : )

    @Jeff . . .well, firstly, thanks a ton for the kudos on MIRRORED HEAVENS. And second, I’d like to think you’re right, that the next stop for the They Be Demons strategy (I love the way you put it btw) is that it gets turned in upon itself in the wake of a GOP loss, after which we’ll witness an intraparty battle so savage you’d have to go back to the Democrats in 1968 to find a parallel. But the GOP would rather feast on Democrats than each other. . . and in the event of a disputed election, the dogs are going to be unleashed with a savagery that will make the campaign trail rhetoric look tame.

  5. David J. Williams » Blog Archive » Election Eve Says:

    […] incredible that the GOP is even remotely competitive in such a year as this, though (as I’ve noted before) a lot of that is due to the underlying electoral map.  But credit also goes to John McCain. The […]