Could Obama Really Win a State in the South?

(promoted by Soren)

If Barack Obama wins any of the states in the former Confederacy, it’ll probably be Virginia or North Carolina. But a few analysts have suggested that he could boost African-African turnout across the rest of the south — the Deep South, mind you — to the point where he makes some really red states competitive. Chuck Todd and Marc Ambinder, who were both my editors at The Hotline and who are two of brightest political minds I know, have hinted that Obama could make Georgia and Mississippi interesting.

Chuck wrote in March that “Mississippi's one of those rare Southern states that might be in play in the general election if Obama becomes the nominee. One Dem statistician tells First Read that there are three red states that could swing if African-American turnout was ever maximized (both in registration and in actual turnout): Georgia, Louisiana and, yes, Mississippi. So don’t assume this is just one of those untouchable red states.”

Marc took it a step further in May and broke down the actual numbers, asking, “Did you know that a half a million African Americans in Georgia are eligible to vote but haven’t registered? The Obama campaign knows this. And they plan to register these voters by November, campaign folks say.”  And the Southern Political Report noted on Tuesday that the DCCC and DSCC have already registered 70,000 new voters in some Louisiana parishes.

Stateline also took a look at it on Tuesday and noted that “Some Democrats hold out hope that Obama could actually win one of the six Southern states that he won so convincingly during the primary season — Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina — all of which have voted strongly Republican in recent presidential elections.” But the key phrase from that observation might have been that Dems are “holding out hope,” because after all, it’ll be a long shot.

Tom Schaller, another superb political analyst, actually crunched the numbers (something that no one else has done), and found that Obama is facing steep odds. In a conversation about white voters posted on Salon, Schaller presented his data: 

“I did a correlation between the black share of statewide population in the 11 Confederate states and the share of Bush’s support among white voters, and it correlates at .76 with all 11 confederate states and if you take Texas out, which Bush obviously did well in, though it has a relatively low black population, with a data set of just 10 data points, it correlates at .9. Human height and weight doesn’t correlate at .9. With 10 data points, it’s ridiculous. I don’t even think this is an empirical matter of dispute.”

 Schaller has a point and his numbers are tough to argue with.  But if Obama’s campaign is really about redrawing the electoral map and scrapping the old Clinton-Bush model, then he should leave no stone unturned and leave no county uncontested.


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My hunch is no

Give Obama a 2-3 points for astronomical black turnout. I can see that. But 1) black turnout as already within the national average, so there might not be a lot of excess to squeeze out, and 2) the black vote for Democrats is already above average in racially polarized southern states. Again, not so sure how much more Obama can get out of them, particularly in states where he'd need to make up a 15-20 point gap.

Does anyone seriously believe that given his performance in the primaries that Obama would be able to improve upon Democratic performance with white voters? Kerry got, IIRC, 14% of the white vote in Mississippi. Under any plausible scenario, Obama would need 20%.

These are states that the "first black President" who, like his wife, also had considerable blue-collar white support, lost by a few points when he ran in an extremely favorable political environment.

I Agree

The Obama campaign likes to spin this that this new black vote will make them invincible, but it's really not going to be much of a factor in this election.

African-Americans are heavily concentrated in the South, and these states went for Bush by close to 20 points.  If anything, I would predict that the margins for McCain will be even higher in these states, as there are still alot of  "Good Ol' Boy" Dixiecrats  Democrats that aren't going to vote for Obama.

So about three-fourths of America's black population is in deep-red Southern states that Obama has no chance in carrying.  The other large concentrations of blacks are in states like California  and New York, which were states that were never in contention anyway.  90% of African-Americans already vote Democrat, so they aren't tapping into a new source of votes, just a little more of the same.

I don't see this as a game-changer, and could actually see it hurting Obama if it looks like he's overplaying his hand getting the black vote.

"It Depends"

How strong will McCain's gop Vote be? I can see a 10% loss of the gop Vote to barr as reasonable. If its larger then that it makes a whole lot more states questionable. Will gop turnout be down. If you listen to the McCain strategy brief they put online they seem to have no intrest in pushing our turnout up so that could be another factor.

Completely Unrealistic

10% of Republicans aren't going to vote Libertarian.  That's complete lunacy, the Libertarian Presidential ticket averages around 1%.  The Libertarians will get about the same amount of votes as the Green Party, about 1%.

10% is the High end

I think 10% voting Libertarian, constitution, and not voting is more likely


I live in Jackson, Mississippi. Trust me. The only way Obama will carry Mississippi is if John McCain pulls a Larry Craig.

Polls show McCain leading MS by 11.

I am curious as to why Obama does so well in North Carolina. Virginia I can understand given that many libs from D.C, PA, and MD might have moved to the Washington burbs. But what is up with N.C.?

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