Mississippi River States: Win 'em, Win the WH?

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I have a pet theory about electability that holds true for all presidential elections reaching back to 1900: whoever wins a majority of the 10 states bordering the Mississippi River wins the election.

Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi.

Will it hold true this year? I have no idea. So many of these traditional rules no longer apply -- e.g., to win the presidency you have to win the New Hampshire primary. This year we're hearing a lot about the importance of West Virginia to Democratic nominees for president. In prior years we've heard a similar admonition about the importance of Ohio to Republican nominees.

Recently I read Kevin Hayden's "electability analysis" that considered the most recent polls in each state. Let's use that yardstick to analyze the Mississippi River basin states. Caution: we're so far out from November (or even August) that the polls today might be meaningless.

That said...

  • Of those 10 states, Obama is ahead by double digits in two: Illinois and Minnesota.
  • McCain is ahead by double digits in five: Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky and Tennessee.
  • Obama is ahead by single digits in one: Iowa

  • McCain is ahead by single digits in two: Missouri and Wisconsin
So, as it stands now, the region breaks for McCain, 7-3. Clearly, Obama has his work cut out for him.

Which states can Obama pick off to at least get to 6-4?

  • Well, Missouri and Wisconsin are the obvious targets. And how about them Razorbacks? Can Arkansas be convinced to vote for Obama (with or without Hillary on the ticket?)
  • Kentucky is probably a lost cause but Tennessee is doable -- and Gov. Phil Bredesen has been my stealth pick for VP from the get-go.
  • Louisiana and Mississippi have been in the news recently (with the election of Childers and my new Congressman, Cazayoux) but I seriously doubt either state votes for Obama in the end.

In summary: Obama needs three of the following four states -- AR, TN, MO, WI -- to make it to the White House. Can Obama pull it off? Or is this, at least, the year when the region breaks for the loser?

What's your take on it?

UPDATE: The notion of Bill Clinton tooling around the back roads of Arkansas making speeches off the bed of a pickup truck, begging for absolution, appeals to me at this point. How about you? Think he'd do it? Nah. Me neither.


EricM Author Profile Page said:

"AR, TN, MO, WI"

AR, no way. The fool Huckabee will be more influential than the nonexistent Bill Clinton.

TN, East TN will slaughter Obama (read WV racists).

MO, maybe. A total coin-flip.

WI, most likely an Obama win.

P.S. - Can your site keep me logged in longer than 20 minutes even when I request that it do so for 2 weeks? Moveable Type is a dreadful addition to the internets.

Ara Rubyan Author Profile Page said:

Yeah, I get that too now. Typekey didn't used to log people off so fast.

What do you think of Phil Bredesen as a stealth VP pick?

EricM Author Profile Page said:

I haven't followed the Veep stakes too closely so far, so this may not be worth the time it takes to read it (you've been warned).

After this week, I think it begins and end with Edwards. Unlike 2004, he doesn't look better than the Presidential candidate, yet can kinda, sorta be worked into the "change you can believe in" brand that Obama is utilizing. Plus, it likely won't occur to McCain's people to point out that he ran for president in 04 because he couldn't get re-elected to the Senate. Four years is a long time to remember when you're McCain's age.

As for Bredesen specifically, if he wanted national office this would have been a perfect year for him to have run on his own. I understand the centrist angle that he could bring to the ticket, but I think his unwillingness to run on his own says pretty much everything about his intentions. Plus, TN still has TennCare, which would be a drag for either Democrat in this election.

Ara Rubyan Author Profile Page said:

I liked SNL's take on Edwards:

On Wednesday, John Edwards officially endorsed himself for Vice-President. It's believed that Edwards endorsement of Sen. Obama will help him nail down the critical handsome millionaire vote.

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