Hillary Probably Won’t Expand The 2016 Map

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Nov 23, 2014 1:00 PM
Hillary Probably Won’t Expand The 2016 Map

Earlier this week, Noah Rothman wrote over at Hot Air that Team Hillary thinks they can net 386 electoral votes if she decided to run in 2016. The folks that could become Clinton’s campaign staff think it’s possible since Clinton can reach the voters Democrats have struggle with in past election cycles: working class whites.

Their targets: Arizona, Indiana, Arkansas, Missouri, and Georgia

White working class appeal and demographics trending toward the Democrats are the reasons why Hillary’s potential campaign team is eyeing these states. Yet, before conservatives start hyperventilating, Harry Enten over at FiveThirtyEight said flipping these states is highly unlikely. For starters, voter registration is comfortably Republican–and these voters flocking toward the GOP aren’t just anti-Obama; they’re anti-Democrat:

If anything, the first three states have become less sympathetic to Democrats in recent years. And there’s no evidence that Clinton is the exception. Georgia and Arizona have become more diverse, but they’ve yet to become more Democratic.  [...]

In all five states, the Republican lead in party identification is at least 5 percentage points greater in the past two years than it was nationwide. It’s not just that voters in these states dislike Obama. They dislike Democrats.

In the first “bucket” Clinton targets — Arkansas, Indiana and Missouri — voters were about as Democratic-leaning as the nation in 2009. Since then, however, voters there have shifted away from the Democratic brand. The Republican lead in party identification among Arkansans, Hoosiers and Missourians is now about 10 percentage points greater than it is nationwide.

Republicans hold more than 60 percent of the seats in both houses of the state legislatures in these states. And the GOP majorities in all three states increased after the 2014 elections. So, it’s not like Clinton can localize these races. These states are solidly Republican from the top down.

Arizona and Georgia have long been listed by Democrats as potential pickup opportunities because of each state’s growing racial diversity. And it’s possible they’ll become presidential battlegrounds. But there isn’t any sign that will happen in the next two years.

So, what about her ability to connect with working class whites?

With the exception of Georgia, 2008 exit polls from those states during the Democratic primaries (I couldn’t find exit polls for Arizona and Arkansas), showed that Clinton won working class voters.

Indiana

  • Under $50k 52/47 (Clinton)
  • Over $50k 53/47 (Clinton)
  • Under $100k 52/47 (Clinton)
  • High School graduates 52/48 Clinton
  • Some college 58/41 Clinton

Georgia

  • Under $50k 64/34 Obama
  • Over $50k 67/32 Obama
  • Under $100k 65/34 Obama
  • High school graduates 60/37 Obama
  • Some college 68/32 Obama

Missouri

  • Under $50k 49/42 Clinton
  • Over $50k 52/40 Obama
  • Under $100k 47/44 Clinton
  • High School graduates 53/36 Clinton
  • Some college 48/45 Clinton

With Georgia, Clinton fared poorly with these voters, but it could shift in the opposite way since Obama isn’t on the ticket.

Then again, 2008 was supposed to be Hillary’s year; it ended up being about then-Sen. Obama’s Hope and Change. She’s a bad campaigner, her book tour was marred by torpid sales, and she’s a highly polarizing figure. It seems the more she’s in the spotlight, the more unpopular she becomes.

Even Obama admitted that after he’s gone, voters are going to be looking for “that new car smell;” Hillary isn’t any of that.

It’s politics; anything can happen. But as Enten noted, even if she manages to win all five states, she probably already clinched the 270 electoral votes to win making this a rather “superfluous” exercise.  Team Hillary is just posturing.

The 2016 map will look different. Voter attitudes toward the Democrats will probably not be as appealing after eight years of Obama, Barack himself will be gone, and the field is potentially open to anyone, Democratic or Republican.

At the same time, Ohio and Florida will be front-and-center as always.