2016 A Close, Noncompetitive Election?

Once again, only six or seven states are likely to matter.

electoral-college-sabato

The late humorist Lewis Grizzard said of the NBA that they play a 82-game regular season just to eliminate the Sacramento Kings from the playoffs. Increasingly, because of the vagaries of the Electoral College, our presidential elections are the opposite.

Larry Sabato and friends argue that only seven states (Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, Nevada, Iowa, and New Hampshire) are toss-up states at the outset of this contest. And, frankly, that’s using an extremely conservative approach:

[W]e considered starting Pennsylvania and Wisconsin as Toss-ups to reflect how close they could be in a tight national election. However, given that both states have voted Democratic even in years when the Democratic nominee has lost (2000 and 2004), and because neither state has shown a clear pro-Republican trend in recent presidential elections, we could not justify portraying either state as a coin-flip to start.

We also debated what to do with Arizona, Georgia, and Missouri, states that have consistently voted Republican presidentially since 2000 yet have yielded very close results (Missouri) or have demographic trends favoring the Democrats (Arizona and Georgia). They are certainly not Safe R — or not the way they used to be, at least in the case of the latter two — but if the GOP nominee is losing any of them, he is almost certainly on his way to a large national loss. Therefore, Likely R is the logical place for them.

Indiana was easier. Barack Obama’s 2008 win was something of a fluke; it was only the second time since the end of the World War II that the state voted Democratic, and Mitt Romney strongly restored it to the GOP column in 2012. So we’ve started it as Safe R.

Finally, after a vicious argument that resulted in bloodletting, New Hampshire was designated Toss-up instead of Leans Democratic, for reasons we explain more fully below.

While New Hampshire was a reliably Republican state during the same time that was true for California, they’ve voted for the Democratic nominee in 1992, 1996, 2004, 2008, and 2012. They 2000 contest was the lone recentish exception, and they went 48% Republican, 47% Democrat, with most of the remaining 5% going to Ralph Nader. If New Hampshire goes Republican, the GOP is going to win the election in a landslide.

As Sabato and company note,

[T]he Electoral College has been very stable over the past four presidential elections. Remarkably, 40 of 50 states have backed the same party from 2000 to 2012, a whopping 80%. Of the other 10 states, five have gone with one party 75% of the time and the other five have split their results evenly between the two parties in that period. We’ve discussed how much more rigid this map appears compared to previous periods.

The last time we were this polarized was the aftermath of the Civil War:

From 1876 to 1888 — four bitterly contested elections — 30 of 38 the states that existed at that time (79%) backed one party in all four elections, as shown in Map 3. Six others supported the same party in three of four elections, while just two were 50%/50% states. And the number of 100% same-party states would be higher if not for the 1876 race, when Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina backed Republican Rutherford B. Hayes in that disputed election; with the end of Reconstruction, Democrats regained hegemony in those final ex-Confederate states to produce what became known as the “Solid South.”

The rest of their longish post goes through various gyrations as to pathways to 270 Electoral Votes for both parties. While they maintain that we should view the race as a toss-up this far out, the fact of the matter is that it’s going to be next to impossible for Republicans to win without both Ohio and Florida–and taking back Virginia and North Carolina, too. Indeed, they see Virginia as the key state:

In 2008 and 2012, Virginia’s presidential result was closest to the national outcome. Virginia’s 52.63% for Obama in 2008 was 0.23 points less than Obama’s national percentage of 52.86%, and its 2012 percentage of 51.16% for Obama was 0.15 points greater than Obama’s 51.01% nationally. While traditional big-time swing states Florida and Ohio are slightly more Republican than the nation as a whole, Virginia has been precisely where the country has landed the last two presidential cycles.

However, 2012 marked the first time since 1944, FDR’s final reelection, that Virginia’s result was more Democratic than the nation’s as a whole. On top of this, Virginia Democrats won every statewide election in 2012, 2013, and 2014, though Sen. Mark Warner had an extremely close call that few saw coming in 2014’s low-turnout midterm. Nonetheless, Warner won despite a poor environment that saw Democrats lose Senate seats in swing states like Colorado and Iowa, the former having another Democratic incumbent who entered office at the same time as Warner (now ex-Sen. Mark Udall). Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s (D) 2013 victory broke a run dating back to 1977 of the president’s party losing a gubernatorial race in Virginia. The “presidential curse” was a somewhat coincidental streak that would eventually be broken; what’s important is that, on the whole, Democrats have been very successful in recent elections in the Commonwealth. The demographic shifts and massive growth in Northern Virginia have been almost the sole driver of the state’s move to the left, though improved Democratic performance in the entire “Urban Crescent” — Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads, and Greater Richmond — has made Democrats the stronger party in recent statewide contests.

The machinations through which the authors go—whether Republicans can carve out enough white voters to take back the Midwest or Democrats can somehow make inroads in Appalachia—further my longstanding view that the Electoral College is not only an undemocratic anachronism but unhealthy. Aside from the fact that we’re likely to have yet another relatively close contest and face the danger of the popular vote winner again losing the election, we’re essentially relegating citizens of most states as bystanders in the election.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    Eighteen months before the November 2014 election did Dr. Sabato predict that a Republican would be elected governor of Illinois? I don’t recall that.

    My point is not that California will go anything but Democratic but that the November 2016 elections are a long way away and a lot can still happen. There are some states which don’t look competitive now that may turn out to be so a year and a half from now and that includes both Red and Blue states.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    we’re essentially relegating citizens of most states as bystanders in the election.

    Hence the sentiment (incorrect I might add) that “My vote doesn’t count.”

    MO is a funny state with nearly every state wide office going Dem in both ’08 and ’12 despite the fact that the Presidential vote went GOP both times. I fully expect MO will go for the GOP Pres candidate in ’16 but if the Dems put up anybody reasonably competent*** Blunt is going to have to pull out all the stops to prevail.

    *** before Ferguson I would have thought Nixon to be the favorite to run against Blunt but his performance in that situation was disastrous for his career as he pi$$ed off everyone on both sides with his fence straddling.

  3. Hal_10000 says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    My point is not that California will go anything but Democratic but that the November 2016 elections are a long way away and a lot can still happen. There are some states which don’t look competitive now that may turn out to be so a year and a half from now and that includes both Red and Blue states.

    THIS. The point of the last four elections is that the pattern is unusual. To claim that this pattern is permanent is … well, it’s like claiming you’ve achieved a “Permanent Republican Majority”.

  4. Ron Beasley says:

    It all is dependent on the Republicans. The so called “top tier ‘ are running into problems. Jeb Bush can’t seem to distance himself from his brother’s failed policies. Chris Christy is toast. Marco Rubio is showing he is little more than a petulant child who simply repeats Republican talking points. Scott Walker is not ready for prime time on a national scale. That leaves us with the candidates in the back seat of the clown car and with the possible exception of Kasich none of them can win a national election.

  5. James Joyner says:

    @Dave Schuler: @Hal_10000: Sure. But the only way the 40 states who have gone in the same direction the last four elections become competitive is if the overall election becomes a blowout. That’s possible. What Sabato is saying is that, in a reasonably close contest (one in which the popular vote is separated by fewer than 4-5 percentage points), the same few states will be all that matter yet again.

    @Ron Beasley: It’s really too early to say on that front. Hillary is the only candidate in the race with substantial national political experience. Jeb has become the odds-on frontrunner for the Republican nomination but he’s been out of the spotlight a long time and has only run statewide races in Florida. That’s not a bad background but he’ll stumble around for a few months before getting his footing—presuming he ever does. And, if he doesn’t, he won’t be the nominee.

  6. Ron Beasley says:

    @James Joyner: Jeb will go no where if he can’t distance himself from W’s failed policies. He can’t win the primaries much less the general election.

  7. DrDaveT says:

    we’re essentially relegating citizens of most states as bystanders in the election

    This is pretty much the same ‘logic’ as Yogi Berra’s famous comment “Nobody goes to that restaurant any more; it’s too crowded.”

    The majority of voters in those ‘safe’ states are certainly not being ineffectual bystanders — they are generating large numbers of electoral votes for their preferred candidates. And that only happens because they do, in fact, go out and vote, rather than sitting at home bemoaning their irrelevance. The restaurant remains crowded.

  8. Dave Schuler says:

    @James Joyner:

    That’s not supported by the evidence. Were the gubernatorial elections in Illinois or Maryland “blowouts”? Or were they closely contested elections that defied the analysis that Dr. Sabato is making?

  9. Ben Wolf says:

    @Ron Beasley: Democrats are facing growing pressures against the fault-line running between its corporate-controlled leadership, the “progressives” that professionally run interference for it and a rapidly strengthening populist wing. For the first time in my life I’m watching the Overton window shift left with Republican supply-side blather on the defensive. This is a Bad Situation for Hillary — she never takes a politically unpopular position but cannot change to reflect the public mood as doing so would cost her support from the financial and tech sector elites.

  10. michael reynolds says:

    Elections are a choice between A and B. We know A, but until we know B we won’t start to have decent head-to-head polling except on essentially the likability or underlying appeal of a given candidate.

    Hillary will have no real problem with her left. Sanders is a gift – he’s irrelevant as a candidate and he’s too far left so he basically helps set Hillary up as the responsible, rational grown-up. Republicans on the far right, Sanders on the far left, Hillary in the middle? I like that positioning.

    We’ve got a whole lot of GOP debates and pandering and gaffes ahead of us. The character of that race will either make it a bit easier or a bit harder for Hillary. But I’m having a hard time imagining the campaign that will change many minds except in a negative direction. I don’t see the star who will suddenly emerge from the Republican field. Jeb’s old news, Walker’s an a-hole and Rubio comes off as a child who’s lost his mommy. I could certainly be wrong, but right now I’m not seeing an Obama type star among the GOP candidates.

  11. ElizaJane says:

    A couple of thoughts. First, Jeb Bush. It’s not just his brother. The Terri Schiavo case was a whopping mess that could be played very effectively by the Democrats. People have forgotten it but they could be made to remember. In fact, Jeb’s baggage is massive. He’d be a gift to the Dems because on the “baggage” question he could make Hillary look like a carry-on-only traveler.

    Second, Hillary. I think that she can, and will, shift somewhat leftward. She’s already doing so. Most of her donors are not going to hold her back from positions that are (carefully) popular.

  12. gVOR08 says:

    @michael reynolds: Re Sanders, the Dems are planning six debates, and they’d look pretty silly with Hillary up there alone. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a little understanding that Bernie, God love him, can push his point of view, enhance his influence a little, as @Ben Wolf: said move the Overton window a bit, and help ensure Hillary gets elected rather than some GOP.

  13. wr says:

    @Ben Wolf: “This is a Bad Situation for Hillary — she never takes a politically unpopular position but cannot change to reflect the public mood as doing so would cost her support from the financial and tech sector elites.”

    This is Rock Solid conventional wisdom, happily parroted by people who are paying no attention to what HRC is actually doing. Despite the mantra that she’s all about the triangulation, she’s been taking some aggressively progressive positions lately — on policing issues and immigration, to start. So let’s let the Republicans and the press keep running against Hillary 2008 while the rest of us actually pay attention to the real world.

  14. AshleyE says:

    we’re essentially relegating citizens of most states as bystanders in the election

    Say it’s Yankees v. Red Sox game, and the scores is 2-3 against the Yankees in the bottom of the ninth. One out to go, one man on base, final Yankee comes up and smacks in a home run, winning the game 4-3 Yankees.

    Now, you can say that hitter won the game by himself, and that the runs run in before him were meaningless bystanders. But, within those runs already in the bag, he could have hit the same home run and still lost the game 2-3.

    In the same way, the citizens of the noncompetitive states aren’t bystanders — they’re the ones running up the score in the early innings so the final at bat can bring it home.

  15. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner:

    But the only way the 40 states who have gone in the same direction the last four elections become competitive is if the overall election becomes a blowout. That’s possible.

    A lot of them haven’t gone that far in the same direction, if that makes sense. Local issues can predominate. If Rubio explains to the people of Pennsylvania that a Cuban sandwich is better than a Philly Cheesesteak, and then goes out of his way to get his staffers to distribute enough Cuban Sandwiches that people realize he is right… He could pull a win out there.

  16. michael reynolds says:

    @wr:

    I thought the same thing. Hillary actually has moved left.

  17. michael reynolds says:

    I just watched the morning shows and I have a suspicion that punditry will be worse than usual in this go-round because men are not going to get what Hillary is up to.

    She’s pushing daycare, equal pay, parental leave and all these issues are essentially invisible to the male punditocracy. Hillary is going to run as Mom. That’s not going to register on the rather limited minds of male pundits.

    No one, but no one, doubts Hillary has some steel in her spine. So she’s got the “tough guy” angle covered. She can run as tough-but-fair Mom. And where does leave Jeb and the rest? Still playing tough Dad. But does anyone believe Marco Rubio is tougher than Hillary? How about Jeb, who is evidently either so stupid or so spineless that he is now endorsing his idiot brother’s invasion of Iraq?

    We’ll get Republicans trying to out-testosterone each other, while Hillary brings plenty of tough guy but wraps it up in Mommy.

  18. James Joyner says:

    @DrDaveT:

    The majority of voters in those ‘safe’ states are certainly not being ineffectual bystanders — they are generating large numbers of electoral votes for their preferred candidates. And that only happens because they do, in fact, go out and vote, rather than sitting at home bemoaning their irrelevance. The restaurant remains crowded.

    Sure. But millions of people in those states might as well not vote. There’s next to no chance of their vote being meaningful.

    In a national popular vote, every vote counts. If our current system, Democrats in Alabama have their votes cast for the Republican candidate and vice versa for Republicans in Massachusetts. It’s just bizarre.

    @Dave Schuler: I didn’t follow either statewide race closely enough to have an opinion. But local races are much different. An Illinois and Maryland Republican nominee for governor isn’t meaningfully a Republican and can win if the Democrat is particularly inept. Democrats win governorships in the Deep South all the time for the same reason.

  19. superdestroyer says:

    @James Joyner:

    The Democrats in Alabama and the Republicans In Massachusetts also do not matter because the real election occurred during the Democratic Primary where the Democrats settled on a candidate due to the outcome of Iowa, New Hampshire and a few other states.

    If people really cared about letting more people have a real say in who was going to be president, they would not be speaking so much about national popular election and speaking much more about removing the out-sized influence of Iowa in New Hampshire have on who the candidates are during the general election.

  20. teve tory says:

    George W. Bush won the popular vote once, after the country rallied behind him after 9/11. Aside from that, to find a republican for president winning the popular vote, you have to go back to 1988.

    in 2008 Barack Obama won by 9,550,193 votes. I have a heard time thinking my vote would have counted in that election, electoral college or no.

  21. DrDaveT says:

    @James Joyner:

    Sure. But millions of people in those states might as well not vote.

    And if you had phrased your initial article that way, I probably wouldn’t have felt the need to respond. After all, the assertion that the votes on the losing side don’t have any lasting effect is true, if fatuous.

    But you implied that NONE of the votes in ‘safe’ states matter — that all voters in those states are essentially ‘bystanders’ to the real election. I’m just pointing out that this is not merely misleading, it’s outright false.

  22. James Joyner says:

    @DrDaveT:

    But you implied that NONE of the votes in ‘safe’ states matter — that all voters in those states are essentially ‘bystanders’ to the real election. I’m just pointing out that this is not merely misleading, it’s outright false.

    Obviously, the outcome of each state’s vote matters. But in the 40-ish completely noncompetitive states, the voting is pro forma.

    In 2012, Obama won California in a landslide. But the 4,839,958 people who voted for Romney–more people than voted, period, in most states—not only didn’t matter but their votes, in effect, went to Obama. That’s unjust.

    In 2000, New Hampshire’s electoral votes all went to Bush, who barely got more votes than Gore and got less than a majority. Ditto, of course, Florida. In a just contest, those states would have been toss-ups and their votes divided essentially equally between the two candidates. Or, more logically, simply not counted in the category of “state” at all but simply “citizen.”

  23. DrDaveT says:

    @James Joyner:

    their votes, in effect, went to Obama

    No, they didn’t. For that to be true, Obama would have had to receive more (electoral) votes than if those Romney voters had simply stayed home and not voted. He didn’t.

    I understand that you have a bee up your butt about this, but you should resist the impulse to stretch the facts in your outrage.

    (You might also consider prioritizing your energies toward the many more pressing things wrong with America that wouldn’t require a constitutional amendment to fix.)

  24. anjin-san says:

    @James Joyner:

    In 2012, Obama won California in a landslide. But the 4,839,958 people who voted for Romney–more people than voted, period, in most states—not only didn’t matter but their votes, in effect, went to Obama.

    I’m sorry, but that’s nonsense. We had an election in California, and Obama won. It’s that simple. If the GOP wants some CA electoral votes, you should put forth better candidates.

  25. PJ says:

    @James Joyner:

    In 2012, Obama won California in a landslide. But the 4,839,958 people who voted for Romney–more people than voted, period, in most states—not only didn’t matter but their votes, in effect, went to Obama. That’s unjust.

    In 2000, New Hampshire’s electoral votes all went to Bush, who barely got more votes than Gore and got less than a majority. Ditto, of course, Florida. In a just contest, those states would have been toss-ups and their votes divided essentially equally between the two candidates. Or, more logically, simply not counted in the category of “state” at all but simply “citizen.”

    It would have been unjust if Obama won more electoral votes but not the popular vote. And the same would have been true if Kerry had won Ohio in 2004 and lost the popular vote by three million votes). In the end Obama got five million votes more than Romney.

    11.9 million voters voted for Obama in states that he would have still won without their votes, is that unjust too, that their votes” really didn’t matter”?

    And what’s your view on Republicans governors in blue states trying to split the electoral votes? (For a reason that is blatantly obvious…)

  26. Ben Wolf says:

    @wr:

    Despite the mantra that she’s all about the triangulation, she’s been taking some aggressively progressive positions lately — on policing issues and immigration, to start. So let’s let the Republicans and the press keep running against Hillary 2008 while the rest of us actually pay attention to the real world.

    Wishful thinking. Hillary has not shifted at all beyond bland talk of helping “everyday Americans.” Suggesting otherwise is bizarre. She can’t even adopt a public position on TPP. Hillary always choses the safest ground and now is unable to do so.

    Wisdom is judging by one’s actions, not their words. When Hillary brings in a heterodox economic team, submits a plan for breakup of the largest banks and proposes full-employment policies we can reconsider.

  27. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Ron Beasley: Kasich is about the only one for whom I could consider voting. I cringe at the thought of having to make a choice between Jeb and Hillary.

  28. stonetools says:

    @SC_Birdflyte:

    To ease your mind on this, think of it as making a choice between the party of sane policy and party of insane policy. Like HRC or not, at least she will be a leader of a party whose political programme is sane and realistic, whereas whoever wins the Republican Party nomination ( even if it is Kasich) will have to carry out a political programme set by a party that believes the federal government might invade Texas, who believes that Obamacare is a disaster that needs to be abolished, who thinks that we should go to war with Iran, and which denies global warming.
    Put this way, making the right choice should be easy and not really cringeworthy. Making the best, most intelligent choice should always be satisfying, if only because it elevates you above the millions who will be making the wrong choices for the wrong reasons.

  29. gVOR08 says:

    @SC_Birdflyte: I live in OH. Why on Earth would you consider voting for Kasich? He’s Scott Walker with ten more IQ points and without the far away eyes.

  30. stonetools says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    Look, I appreciate your passion on this. But don’t be a useful idiot for the conservatives. The choice is not between Ye Perfect Liberal and Clinton, it’s between Clinton and whover wins the nomination of the Party that wants to go back to 1912. If you don’t appreciate that, you are are an idiot, politically speaking ( and I mean that in the nicest way).
    Frankly, you sound like the folks in 2000 that refused to vote for the Democrats because their political programme wasn’t the best, and who saw “no difference” between Al Gore and GWB.*
    We know now that there was a huge difference. Don’t repeat that moronic mistake.

    *I was going to make a reference to 1933 Germany, but refrained to do so because Godwin’s Law. But the comparision is not wholly inappropriate.

  31. James Joyner says:

    @DrDaveT: @anjin-san: Currently, we have 50 state elections plus DC’s rather than a single, national election. Given that POTUS is a national office, I much prefer the latter. Winning Florida by a handful of votes, as Bush did in 2000, shouldn’t mean getting all of that state’s votes. But that’s how we’re set up–for reasons that are now totally anachronistic.

    @PJ: I prefer the “winner of each Congressional district gets one Elector and the winner of the state gets two Electors” approach to the current winner-take-all, although I’d prefer to see it implemented nationwide rather than done for partisan advantage in a handful of states. I’d prefer abolition altogether.

  32. Ben Wolf says:

    @stonetools:

    To ease your mind on this, think of it as making a choice between the party of sane policy and party of insane policy.

    The argument I responded to was “Hillary is moving left”; now I’m told she’ll be less a regressive than a Republican and therefore more sane, or less insane depending on one’s perspective. Both arguments cannot be true.

  33. JohnMcC says:

    @James Joyner: Back when I was taking college courses the prevailing concept of American federal elections was that the President was elected by states, not individual voters. Goes back to our founders thinking of their citizenship in their states being the entrance into their citizenship in the ‘United States’. Your upset at the ‘wasted’ votes of California Republicans or New Hampshire Democrats would have seemed to them quite an alien system, I was taught. If only they’d had your advise, how much better life would be.

  34. PJ says:

    @James Joyner:

    I prefer the “winner of each Congressional district gets one Elector and the winner of the state gets two Electors” approach to the current winner-take-all, although I’d prefer to see it implemented nationwide rather than done for partisan advantage in a handful of states. I’d prefer abolition altogether.

    So, you think the WTA for electoral votes is unjust, but you would want to replace it with a system that I would consider to be even more unjust by magnitudes due to gerrymandered districts. In Pennsylvania, Obama got 51.97% of the votes and 100% of the electoral votes, but instead Obama should have got 35% of the electoral votes? Say what you want about state wide WTA for the Presidential elections, but at least states can’t be gerrymandered. And if it’s such a bad idea, then let EVERY vote be counted and replace it with a nationwide WTA.

    Or perhaps you disagree? Maybe you don’t see a system based on gerrymandering to be more unjust?

  35. charon says:

    @PJ:

    Or perhaps you disagree? Maybe you don’t see a system based on gerrymandering to be more unjust?

    IOKIYAR

    Situational tolerance for gerrymandering.

  36. JohnMcC says:

    @James Joyner: Ahh…. I fired the previous comment off a bit too soon, I see. Apologies for the snark. Concerning the plan for EC votes being awarded for individual congressional districts, it seems to me that is too close to voting by acreage. And why keep ‘electors’ at all? A straight up popular vote would seem more reasonable if one is thinking of changing the Constitution. To me, the principle difficulty with popular voting is the problem of both candidates failing to get 50% and the question of run-off elections vs minority victory. We have such a long history of winner-take-all and no equivalent of proportional parliamentary representation it would take major structural changes to adapt popular-vote presidential elections.

    The present EC leaves very much to be desired but it was baked into the cake from the beginning and — although I hate to sound ‘conservative’ by disposition — tinkering with the Constitution would require a bigger issue than this, I think.

    And by the way — a national presidential ballot would be a great idea. In Florida there were thousands of votes cast for Pat Buchanan from strongly Jewish precincts because of the format of the famous ‘butterfly’ ballot. Those were ‘wasted’ votes in a way that a Republican voter in California is not.

  37. PJ says:

    @James Joyner:

    I prefer the “winner of each Congressional district gets one Elector and the winner of the state gets two Electors” approach to the current winner-take-all, although I’d prefer to see it implemented nationwide rather than done for partisan advantage in a handful of states. I’d prefer abolition altogether.

    Lets say what you would want instead was in fact used in the 2012 election, the election that Obama won by more than 5 million votes.

    Romney would have been elected President with 274 electoral votes.

    Would that have been more or less unjust than the current, mostly statewide WTA (where Obama gets a higher percentage of the total electoral votes than his popular vote percentage) or a nationwide popular vote? If less, then why?

  38. wr says:

    @Ben Wolf: Sorry, but waiting for any candidate to live up your precise wish list before you’ll consider that she’s changed in eight years is just silly. Eight years she was so busy triangulating she couldn’t bring herself to make a clear statement on the question of drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants. This year she comes out for pushing past Obama’s position on Dreamers and their families.

    If you can’t see the difference then you’re not paying attention to anything besides what’s in your head.

  39. al-Ameda says:

    This election is an extremely simple proposition for me:
    Imagine who makes the next nominations to the Supreme Court.

    Do I want that person to be Hillary Clinton (and all of her “baggage” and imperfections) or Scott Walker, Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Lindsay Graham, or any of that crew?

    Put another way: A Samuel Alito or Elena Kagan type of justice?
    Or a Clarence Thomas or Sonia Sotomayor type of justice?

    It really is that simple for me.

  40. JohnMcC says:

    @al-Ameda: Well, having watched mind-deadening stretches of the Repub “Freedom Fest” in South Carolina on CSPAN this weekend (alternating with the NCAA lacrosse tournament) — there is that business of going to war with Iran. There seemed to be a sort of subliminal contest going on to see which Repub ‘person of interest’ could make the biggest sound by beating on their chests. As has been shown here, I’m sensitive on the subject of war.

  41. Richard Mayhew says:

    @James Joyner: So under your preferred plan, you want to create incentives for massive gerrymandering. For instance, Pennsylvania has consistently voted for Democrats. In 2012, President Obama won the the state by roughly 5 points. He took the 20 electoral votes.

    Under your system, due to a hyper aggressive pack and crack gerrymander, President Obama would still have won the state by 5 points, and received 8 electoral votes (6 districts +2 Senate/At Large winner bonus)

    So there are no democratic legitimacy problems with your proposed system. There are many ways to improve the US electoral system(s) but winner take all at Congressional District level only solves the problem that the urban areas vote heavily Democratic, and the rural areas “deserve” a “bonus” weight to their votes.

  42. Ben Wolf says:

    @wr: There is nothing “left” about Hillary’s claim to support the DREAM Act, it’s a corporate-backed bill pushed for by her tech-sector donors. It doesn’t do your “secret woman of the left” argument any good when you can’t find anything to demonstrate this. Show me one policy on which she is defying the most influential corporate lobbies in the Party. Tech, finance, Israel, military contractors, domestic spying. Anything at all?

  43. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @gVOR08: In Presidential elections, it’s better to assume the worst. I’m not saying I would pick Kasich out of all plausible candidates, but Walker, Jindal, Perry? In politics, we have to make the choices we have, not those we’d like to see.