In 2012, Oregon will be a battleground state, says Gallup

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Writing in the Los Angeles Times, David Lauter notes that the latest state-by-state presidential approval polls from Gallup outline the likely electoral map for 2012.

Lauter notes that Obama's approval is over 50% in 16 states - despite a national approval rating that is at its lowest point ever, 39%. Those sixteen states, plus DC, combine for 215 electoral votes. (Remember, 270 to win.) That's Obama's base.

22 states, combined for 169 electoral votes, constitute the GOP base:

At the other end of the scale, there were 22 states where Obama’s approval was below 43% during the spring. Those states, plus Mississippi, where his approval was 45%, but which he stands virtually no chance of carrying, constitute the GOP base, with 168 electoral votes. (Mississippi is a special case because of the racial polarization in its voting; Obama is extremely popular among blacks, who make up almost 40% of the state’s electorate, and very unpopular among whites in the state).

In between, there are just 12 states where Obama's approval is between 43% and 50%. Oregon is one of them. Those 12 states combine for 155 electoral votes, and Obama would need 55.

Obama approvals state-by-state, Gallup

In fact, Obama's approval rating in Oregon - 44% - is the lowest of the twelve battleground states. That means that Obama's approvals are higher in such traditional battlegrounds as Ohio, Florida, New Mexico, and Georgia.

Lauter argues that there are at least three states that may move into battleground status:

Although some states may drop off the list, it’s unlikely that many will move onto it. One exception could be New Hampshire – a state that Obama carried in 2008 but in which he is currently quite unpopular. It could become competitive again, depending on the GOP nominee. There are also a few states in Obama’s base that moved sharply toward the GOP in the 2010 election, notably Wisconsin and Minnesota, which the White House still has to worry about.

Oregon, of course, has long been a state that appears on early battleground lists, always to drop off the list as the election nears. We'll see what happens in 2012.

Back in 2008, 538's Nate Silver noted that Oregon is unique in that it has the most conservative conservatives and the most liberal liberals of any state in the country. Which may explain the low approval rating -- lots of angry conservatives, and yes, lots of cranky progressives.

What do you think? Will Oregon come home to President Obama - as it has for every Democratic presidential candidate since 1984? Or will it be competitive all the way to the end?

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      Unless, of course, there's a third-party candidate from the left - ala Ralph Nader, who made the 2000 election between Gore and Bush very close in Oregon.

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        Very true, Kari. The grumbling on the left is pretty loud down here. I cannot imagine why.

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          If Romney wins the Republican nomination there it is likely that there will be a right wing 3rd party appeal. If it is Perry or Bachmann it will scare the independents and the remaining Hatfield Republicans.

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            Unlikely that the right-wing third party candidate would be a GOP primary loser. In most states (including Oregon), primary losers can't turn around and run as independents. (Of course, that assumes that we're talking about someone who actually lost in the primary - as opposed to dropping out before the votes take place.)

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            So I take it the left is somehow not anti-American? Come on man you don't believe in the phony paradigm do you Maurer? Please tell us what is American?

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              To follow up do you know why you want to change it? What will it do and what outcome do you perceive will take place if you get your way? Are you ok if the exact opposite outcome happens? Do you still support the idea if the exact opposite of what you want happens? I am asking to what ends, not just methodology here.

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    Oregon will end up being a comfortable win for Obama, much as "battleground Georgia" will end up being a comfortable win for whatever Republican gets picked.

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    I think Michigan might be one that you have marked as a blue state that is probably a unknown state at this point ( I also think Wisconsin is an unknown state at the moment as well (especially given what we saw in the recalls).

    I cant imagine that Georgia will not go republican currently. Oregon and Nevada and New Mexico will probably go to Obama. While the republican will likely pick up Arizona.

    That leaves Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan the biggest swing states. I count 208 for Obama and 194 for the republican so far. Going to be a very close race.

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      I don't think campaigns run to the middle as much as is often suggested in media discussion. Candidates appeal to whom they see as their majority. At the end of the campaign, messaging is targeted to undecided voters, a large number of whom are often non-ideological independents. Efforts with strong supporters switches to GOTV.

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        Well, that depends.

        In some races, polling clearly shows that a candidate needs to grab undecided voters at the end.

        In other races, the polling will clearly show that the candidate needs to boost turnout from their base at the end.

        All depends on the dynamics.

        More often than not, especially in Oregon, we win races by boosting turnout from the base.

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    Perry is 1st choice of 29% of GOP voters in a new poll by Rasmussen. Apparently Bachman's 15 minutes are up.Will Perry's 15 minutes be up soon?

    Oregon will go to Obama if every Democratic County organization gets into the game in a big way. Voter ID will be critical to winning.

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    Until Sat. I thought Romney would be the R nominee, and that as the corporatist it'll be hard to tell him apart from corporatist Obama. But if it's Perry, things are different. Would he not start out with the South and Southwest states, Mississippi and Ohio valley states, Great Plains states and some border states? But it's said that his vanity can cause him to self-destruct, and then there is possible historical discontinuity such as a food supply emergency or nuclear radiation crisis, etc. that could remind voters that federal intervention is not always bad. Other than that, he looks like a winner to me, but no, not in the 3 Pacific states.

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    Good news if there is really going to be an honest debate and the voters in Oregon can know their vote will make a difference.

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    The poll, and most comments conced the dependent variable as Obama being the party nominee. In the past,asitting president with this level of issues and lack of public support could expect a healthy run from within their own party. Does everyone truly discount the probability that some other democrat (Hillary Clinton comes to mind)may challenge Obama for the party nomination?

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    In 2012, The National Popular Vote bill could guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. There would no longer be 'battleground' states where voters and policies are more important than those of other states.

    When the bill is enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes-- enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538), all the electoral votes from the enacting states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC.

    The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for president. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action.

    The bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers in 21 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in AR, CT, DE, DC, ME, MI, NV, NM, NY, NC, and Oregon, and both houses in CA, CO, HI, IL, NJ, MD, MA ,RI, VT, and WA. The bill has been enacted by DC, HI, IL,CA, NJ, MD, MA, VT, and WA. These 9 jurisdictions possess 132 electoral votes-- 49% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

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      A survey of 800 Oregon voters conducted on December 16-17, 2008 showed 76% overall support for a national popular vote for President.

      Support was 82% among Democrats, 70% among Republicans, and 72% among independents.

      By age, support was 67% among 18-29 year olds, 68% among 30-45 year olds, 82% among 46-65 year olds, and 76% for those older than 65.

      By gender, support was 81% among women and 71% among men.

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        Do you know why it is not a poplar vote now? Why is the electoral college system set up the way it is? Its important to understand why things exist before we dismantle them. Do you know why it is, the way it is now?

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          The presidential election system we have today is not in the Constitution. State-by-state winner-take-all laws to award Electoral College votes, are an example of state laws eventually enacted by states, using their exclusive power to do so, AFTER the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, Now our current system can be changed by state laws again.

          Unable to agree on any particular method, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method for selecting presidential electors exclusively to the states by adopting the language contained in section 1 of Article II of the U.S. Constitution-- "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . ." The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as "plenary" and "exclusive."

          The constitution does not prohibit any of the methods that were debated and rejected. Indeed, a majority of the states appointed their presidential electors using two of the rejected methods in the nation's first presidential election in 1789 (i.e., appointment by the legislature and by the governor and his cabinet). Presidential electors were appointed by state legislatures for almost a century.

          Neither of the two most important features of the current system of electing the President (namely, universal suffrage, and the 48 state-by-state winner-take-all method) are in the U.S. Constitution. Neither was the choice of the Founders when they went back to their states to organize the nation's first presidential election.

          In 1789, in the nation's first election, the people had no vote for President in most states, only men who owned a substantial amount of property could vote, and only three states used the state-by-state winner-take-all method to award electoral votes.

          The current 48 state-by-state winner-take-all method (i.e., awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in a particular state) is not entitled to any special deference based on history or the historical meaning of the words in the U.S. Constitution. It is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, the debates of the Constitutional Convention, or the Federalist Papers. The actions taken by the Founding Fathers make it clear that they never gave their imprimatur to the winner-take-all method.

          The constitutional wording does not encourage, discourage, require, or prohibit the use of any particular method for awarding the state's electoral votes.

          As a result of changes in state laws enacted since 1789, the people have the right to vote for presidential electors in 100% of the states, there are no property requirements for voting in any state, and the state-by-state winner-take-all method is used by 48 of the 50 states. States can, and frequently have, changed their method of awarding electoral votes over the years.

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          The current system of electing the president ensures that the candidates, after the primaries, do not reach out to all of the states and their voters. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. The reason for this is the state-by-state winner-take-all method (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but since enacted by 48 states), under which all of a state's electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who gets the most votes in each separate state.

          Presidential candidates concentrate their attention on only the current handful of closely divided "battleground" states and their voters. There is no incentive for them to bother to care about the majority of states where they are hopelessly behind or safely ahead to win. In the 2012 election, pundits and campaign operatives agree already, that, at most, only 14 states and their voters will matter. None of the 10 most rural states will matter, as usual. Almost 75% of the country will be ignored --including 19 of the 22 lowest population and medium-small states, and 17 medium and big states like CA, GA, NY, and TX. This will be more obscene than the 2008 campaign, when candidates concentrated over 2/3rds of their campaign events and ad money in just 6 states, and 98% in just 15 states (CO, FL, IN, IA, MI, MN, MO, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, PA, VA, and WI). Over half (57%) of the events were in just 4 states (OH, FL, PA, and VA). In 2004, candidates concentrated over 2/3rds of their money and campaign visits in 5 states; over 80% in 9 states; and over 99% of their money in 16 states.

          2/3rds of the states and people have been merely spectators to the presidential election. That's more than 85 million voters ignored.

          Voter turnout in the "battleground" states has been 67%, while turnout in the "spectator" states was 61%.

          Policies important to the citizens of ‘flyover’ states are not as highly prioritized as policies important to ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing.

          Because of the state-by-state winner-take-all electoral votes laws in 48 states, a candidate has won the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide in 4 of the nation's 56 (1 in 14 = 7%) presidential elections.

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          Why do we have the Electoral College now? Because the founders didn't believe that the general public was smart enough to elect a president.

          Sometimes I agree with that. ;)

          If you want to go down the road of arguing about the small states vs. the large states, that hasn't been a factor in over a hundred years. It's all about demographics within the states. How much power does North Dakota or Vermont have in choosing the president? Compare that to New Hampshire. and compare that to Ohio. The issues of concern to North Dakotans and Vermonters are totally ignored by presidential campaigns. If the small vs. large state thing was true, then that wouldn't be the case.

          The Electoral College was a neat idea at the time, but times have changed.

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    "What do you think? Will Oregon come home to President Obama - as it has for every Democratic presidential candidate since 1984? Or will it be competitive all the way to the end?"

    I will vote c. Doesn't matter as Oregon's primaries are too late and too small to matter even the slightest in the national scene. Sorry to say it, but it's true. Oregon just doesn't matter.

    Honestly, I think there is merit in a system that arranges primaries by the population of the states.. the smallest go first. But the abolshment of the electoral system is an even better idea (though I shudder to think about recounts on that scale...)

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      I certainly agree that there are systemic issues with our nominating process, and election process in general.

      However, the question at hand here is whether or not Oregon will be a battleground state for the general election.

      I may be wrong, but I don't know if there is a correlation between a state's primary election date and its relevance during the general election.

      Indiana and North Carolina will not have their respective primary elections until one week before Oregon's primary election. New Mexico comes one week after Oregon. I tend to think that each of those states will be hotly contested in the general election, despite their late primary election dates.

      Our late primary date certainly makes us close to irrelevent in almost every nominating contest, but it is more likely our party registration disparity that makes us less relevent in general elections.

      Although, most will remember Gore besting Bush by less than half a percentage point in Oregon in 2000.

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      I wasn't asking about the primaries.

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    It's these kinds of discussions that make me love blueoregon. Informed, reasoned and, well, just plain fun.

    Two points: 1. It's been said before, but the threat to Obama isn't that progressives and Indies will vote for the R, it's that they will stay home. I worry at how effective GOTV efforts will be among the '08 "first timers" who feel they were taken for a ride the last go 'round.

    1. Indies seem to me to respond to emotional considerations more than policy ones. If someone truly can't distinguish enough difference between Conservative and Progressive philosophies to choose which they believe is more valid, it stands to reason that they are in fact basing their decision on other factors. I think it's a sense of leadership they crave. If you look at the swing votes "the middle" has cast for President over the last couple of decades the ideologies are all over the place but the winner always had that "American Leader Mojo".
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    I'm not sure how part of this evolved into a discussion re: NPV. The efforts referred to above could be a problematic. While the Electoral College may be imperfect, State Legislatures agreeing to "just go along with popular vote" is not necessarily a cure. Close elections could prove to be not simply controversial, but tied in a Gordian knot of litigation as ballot irregularities in every state are scrutinized by every state. Ultimately, because this is simply a get-around of the Constitutional mandate of the EC, it doesn't eliminate problems, it just changes them.

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