A similar pattern has emerged in a handful of Rust Belt and border states. With the exception of 1972 and 1984, West Virginia also voted for the Democratic presidential nominee from 1932 to 1996, and it hasn’t elected a GOP senator for generations. Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas and Ohio all went for Jimmy Carter in 1976 and for Bill Clinton twice. All but Ohio have been dominated by Democrats at the congressional and gubernatorial levels for decades. But all five went for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004.
The reason: Casey Democrats. “Democrats’ difficulties with this group surely have a great deal to do with these voters’ sense of cultural alienation from the national Democratic Party and its relatively cosmopolitan values around religion, family, guns and other social institutions/practices,” blogged Democratic strategist Ruy Teixeira after the 2004 election. Just two years earlier, in their book, “The Emerging Democratic Majority,” Teixeira and John Judis had predicted that the party’s economic liberalism would bear the Democratic nominee to victory in such states. ~Mark Stricherz
For obvious reasons, I was very interested to read this article, since it ties together several of the states I have been discussing in recent weeks where there seems to be particularly strong resistance to Obama, and where there also seems to be significantly less resistance to Clinton. When a Democratic candidate wins these states, as they should by all rights given the strong Democratic local and state presence in all of them, he wins the White House. Without them, he fails.
Put simply, if all of the states (minus Pennsylvania) mentioned in this article go against Obama and Colorado and Virginia continue in their general post-1968 pattern of voting for the Republican, it would be extremely difficult for him to win the election. If Pennsylvania were lost it would be nearly impossible. If the GOP took all these “Casey Democrat” states, not including Pennsylvania, and also won New Mexico (while holding Colorado), the Democrats would still lose even if they won in Virginia. Likewise, Colorado alone wouldn’t be enough. Dem wins in Colorado and New Mexico wouldn’t be enough for an outright win, either, though in that latter scenario would result in a 269-269 tie and throw it to the House, resulting in a Dem win. Bottom line: based on how these “Casey Democrat” states are leaning right now, some combination of two of those three states have to turn “blue” for Obama if he is going to win. Of course, if you include Pennsylvania in the Republican column, Democrats could carry Colorado, New Mexico and Virginia and it still wouldn’t matter. For Obama to win, it seems likely that at least one of these three states will have to vote in a way that it hasn’t voted in either 44 years (VA) or 16 years (CO), and possibly two of the three will have to do this. For McCain to win, he needs Virginia and Colorado to vote as they have done for four decades, and then it doesn’t matter what happens in New Mexico. If McCain continues to lead in places such as Wisconsin and Michigan, all of this won’t matter anyway, but the Democrats have chosen a good spot for their convention, since Colorado is going to become a more crucial and more hotly contested swing state than most.