Monday, June 9, 2008

Rothenberg Sees Few Changes in Electoral Map

The other day, I wrote that historical voting trends suggest to me that there won't be many changes in the electoral map this year. This morning, Stuart Rothenberg is expressing a similar opinion.

Rothenberg writes, in the Rothenberg Political Report, that he isn't expecting major changes, either.

"There will be changes," he writes, "but don’t expect the 2008 presidential map to look wildly different from those of 2000 and 2004."

The last two elections were exceedingly close -- by historical standards -- in the Electoral College, so a shift by any state, large or small, is viewed as important -- even though it may not turn out to be when all the votes have been counted.

In 2004, for example, network analysts spent a lot of time in the early evening hours discussing the ramifications of New Hampshire's shift to the Democrats. Because of a handful of later shifts in the Republicans' favor, New Hampshire's change of heart ended up meaning nothing.

This year, Rothenberg points out, "Three states that were once competitive -- Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee -- no longer seem so."

And he says that voting trends refute another claim that Democrats have made.

"[S]o far there is no evidence that red states in the Deep South are potentially winnable for Obama because of their large black population," Rothenberg writes.

He also makes what could be a worrisome observation for anyone -- Republican or Democrat -- who remembers 2000.

"A close electoral map invariably raises the specter of a possible split decision -- with one nominee winning the popular vote and the other winning an Electoral College majority," Rothenberg writes.

"As in 2000, this seems like a serious possibility."

I don't think anyone wants to revisit that.

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