On Sunday mornings, I have the great joy and honor of appearing on Mario Solis Marich's show on KTALK in Los Angeles. It works out fine for me because while it's 7:15 out west, in cold Boston, it's a more appropriate 10:15.
Yesterday, we broached what I think will be the most interesting issue of the fall, whether Obamania will sweep Barack to a huge popular vote victory but another narrow defeat in the Electoral College.
Before everyone starts screaming foul, this same scenario is true, to an extent, for Senator Clinton but I don't think her margins would be as large in some of the coastal states - meaning the chance of an overwhelming victory in popular vote and crushing loss in the Electoral College is lower.
Here are the facts that set it up. And let me be clear - my purpose of this post is when our nominee is decided, we all have a tremendous amount of work ahead of us, collectively, to have A CHANCE in November. Hear me out, my friends, hear me out.
First, click here a second and look at the Electoral College map from 2004 and 2000. All the folks arguing about the Superdelegates now? Hah, wait till they start focusing on this little issue. We live in a country with the right to vote and a democracy but as the Electoral College proves - it is not a pure democracy - it is better described as a representative democracy.
The simple core fact is that John Kerry lost to George Bush by 34 electoral college votes so to win, Barack Obama has to swing 18 votes his way. Al Gore, of course, won the popular vote but lost the election.
Barack Obama will win California and New York and all the blue coastal states by huge margins - he will be millions of votes ahead on the basis of New York, California, Illinois and Massachusetts alone. Barack could be as much as 5,000,000 votes ahead out of those four states and what will prevent it from being even larger is minimum focus on those states by the nominee in the fall. But remember, you win by one, you win by a million, you still are limited in your electoral college votes.
He will win these states by margins that may well give him a popular vote victory. He also will get more votes in states where Kerry was non-existent, like Alabama, but he won't win those states, or their Electoral College votes.
So if Obama wins the popular vote by five or ten million votes, he wins the White House right? Well, no. Because he hasn't picked up the needed 18 Electoral College votes.
If the Republican duo is McCain-Romney or McCain-Huckabee with Romney hustling it for a cabinet post, there are two real problem states - one is New Hampshire where McCain is very strong, and Obama lost to Hillary. Romney would add another layer of problem here for us, he considers it one of his many home states and also remember: Gore lost New Hampshire to Bush.
New Hampshire appears to be more blue than it used to be, but it has not one but two Republican Senators, so I think it could go red this year.
So if New Hampshire flips back red, Obama can win the oh-so-precious Ohio and still not be President. He has to win some other states. Could he bring Iowa or New Mexico back to the Democrats? States Gore won that Kerry lost? Well within the realm of possibility. Especially New Mexico with a Bill Richardson on the ticket.
In fact, I see Bill Richardson as potentially being key to the White House. He could swing New Mexico, assist greatly in other states with sizable Latino populations and he would bring international expertise and real experience to the ticket. (Disclosure: I was New Media Consultant to the Governor's campaign this past fall.)
Before we go on more, I see another issue looming - and in 2004, everyone looked back to Florida and the key state was Ohio. Now, everyone is looking at Ohio and I think the key state is Michigan.
Especially if it is McCain-Romney, will the Democrats hold Michigan? A state in terrible financial shape with leading Democrats. The state where Romney announced? It could be problematic.
Oh, and by the way, Michigan just happens to be the state where Obama pulled his name off and has not campaigned and whose delegates may not be seated at the convention, not exactly how you empower people to help you out.
If New Hampshire and Michigan go red, we are in trouble. If they stay blue, let's look at the best chance scenario - what single state can Obama win and make up Kerry's deficit? Ohio, yes, a definite possibility but far from a sure thing. In 2004, the Kerry Campaign and DNC and Democratic Groups threw tens of millions of dollars and man hours at Florida, and went backwards when compared to Gore in 2004.
Texas, not much chance.
Indiana, not much chance.
Florida, hard to think we have a real chance right now. (And like Michigan, there is the little issue of the DNC dismissing their delegates.)
Hmm, what if he wins both Iowa and New Mexico but not Ohio? He's still not President.
What if he wins Iowa, and New Mexico and Nevada? If my math skills are correct, then it's a tie. Seriously, an electoral college tie which makes winning the Senate hands down pretty important because that's where they break the tie.
There are two huge factors that will make the situation more fluid than I, or anyone else doing early guessing, will talk about right now.
One is Iraq.
A calm fall and some timely dog wagging (when was the last time the terror alert network went red? I'm betting soon) and McCain looks very very good on Iraq. He will have support of groups like Freedom's Watch and the man who still has the pulpit, George Bush.
The second is when the right turns its guns on Barack. He has been allowed to coast so far, he hasn't had any real shots come his way, but you see the battlelines forming. They will pound him for his 'rhetoric' and for the 'plagiarism' charge. They will pound him on Rezko and on his inexperience. They will mock and belittle him for months.
It won't make a difference on the coasts but it will hold the middle of the country red.
It will make it hard to flip states and easy to lose Michigan and New Hampshire.
I remember after 2004, everyone kept asking, 'how did you guys lose?" We lost because they managed to destroy an authentic war hero's record and glorify the toy soldier. We lost because in some counties in the middle of the country, 85% of the people voted for Bush.
Barack will inspire and unite the coasts. I can clearly see the path to a huge popular vote victory.
The path to victory on the Electoral College, I fear, is a little cloudy right now.