Well, a reminder of my final question from last post:
Now, in the next few days, we get to see who blinks first- does Obama give in to Clinton blackmail, or does the Democratic Party finally, at long, long last, tell its two problem children to take a hike?
And less than a day after I typed that- hell, less than twelve hours after I typed it- the answer came. Clinton's superdelegate supporters finally gave her the come-to-Jesus talk she's needed for at least the past month, letting her know they were about to defect en masse. Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell said point-blank that the vice-presidential slot cannot be negotiated for- much less extorted as it appeared Clinton was going to attempt Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Representative Charlie Rangel- Clinton's sponsor in the world of New York politics- led a group of over twenty Clinton-endorsing Congresspersons to warn her that she had until today, Friday, to endorse Obama before they bolted.
Tomorrow Clinton will make it official, and in the interim she's already been backpedaling wildly from anything that hinted of an attempt to extort the VP slot on the ticket. She'll still try to negotiate concessions from Obama, but now she will come not as someone holding power over him, but as a supplicant- important, but a supplicant all the same.
So, with that the drama of the Democratic nomination cycle appears to be over. Now comes the time to look ahead to Obama v. McCain.
The famous Chuck Todd has a list of which states favor whom in a recent MSNBC.com First Look column. I disagree with several states' placement, though. I prefer the statistical analysis of FiveThirtyEight.com, which I'm going to break down thusly:
SOLID STATES (20/51). These states currently show a greater than 10% advantage for one candidate or the other in 538's estimates (demographic analysis adjusted by state polls), with a couple of exceptions based on circumstances 538 hasn't taken into account. These states will be set aside and NEVER CONSIDERED AGAIN, because nothing short of disaster on one side or the other is going to swing the nation or any one state by more than one voter out of ten.
(Electoral votes by state in parenthesis.)
SOLID FOR OBAMA: California (55), District of Columbia (3), Delaware (3), Hawaii (4), Illinois (21), Maryland (10), New York (31), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), Washington (11) - 145 EV
SOLID FOR MCCAIN: Alabama (9), Arkansas (6), Arizona (10), Idaho (4), Kentucky (8), Mississippi (6), Oklahoma (7), Tennessee (11), Utah (5), Wyoming (3) - 69 EV
WOBBLY STATES (19/51). These states show between 5% and 10% advantage for one candidate or another at 538, or are states where Bob Barr's candidacy or known bad polls may throw off 538's estimate by enough to bring the margin within 5% to 10%. These states probably will go to the named candidate, but still bear watching.
WOBBLY FOR OBAMA: Connecticut (7), Iowa (7), Massachusetts (12), Maine (4)*, Minnesota (10), New Jersey (15), Oregon (7) - 62 EV
WOBBLY FOR MCCAIN: Alaska (3), Florida (27), Georgia (15), Kansas (6), Louisiana (9), Montana (3), North Carolina (15), Nebraska (5)*, South Carolina (8), South Dakota (3), Texas (34), West Virginia (5) - 133 EV
* Maine and Nebraska award two statewide electoral votes, and award their remaining electoral votes based on results in each congressional district. This leaves the potential for those two states to split their electoral votes.
So, that's 214 electoral votes to Obama, 202 to McCain, barring some pretty large shifts.
That leaves the balance with:
TOSSUP STATES (12/51): These states currently show an advantage of less than 5% at 538. This is doable. We'll break this down into Leaning Obama, Leaning McCain, and True Tossup- those states with a difference of less than 2%.
LEANING OBAMA: Colorado (9), Pennsylvania (21), Wisconsin (10) - 40 EV
LEANING MCCAIN: Indiana (11), Missouri (11), North Dakota (3), Virginia (12) - 37 EV
TRUE TOSSUP: Michigan (17), New Hampshire (4), New Mexico (5), Nevada (5), Ohio (20) - 51 EV
There's your true battleground- those twelve states.
As for the wobblies... we'll watch them for a while, see if they narrow or widen from now until the end of July. If they widen beyond 10%, they'll be bumped up to Solid status; below 5%, and they'll go into the Leaning/Tossup category. We'll try to ignore the polls during convention season, since party conventions usually give candidates bumps in the polls that don't last long. Come October 1, anything that's still in the Wobbly category will be listed as Solid, since it'll be too late (barring disaster) for the candidates to make more than a 5% shift.