Potomac Primaries

Posted by Mike Merritt in Election 2008, Politics on

Update: 2/12/08 7:19PM: CNN is projecting Barack Obama as the winner of Virginia, just as I thought.   Also, I’m changing my D.C. prediction for Obama, given its demographics.  I’m going to keep Clinton on Maryland for now, but stress a weak win there.  Too early to tell Virginia for the Republicans, as I expected it would be.

Now, I’m not one that likes to call the cards before they’re counted. It is, in fact, a pet peeve of mine when the likes of CNN, MSNBC, or Fox call a race when there’s only 10% of the votes counted or something. They’ve been wrong before, and will be wrong again. It only takes one county that voted some different way to throw everything off.

However, I would like to make some predictions here, and think I have some firepower because of past trends. On the other hand, certain circumstances may dictate what happens today, but I’ll get to those in a bit. This area of the country is interesting, since you start making the transition from “North” to “South” between Maryland and Virginia. So, I’ll go by state, and divide by party.

Maryland

A quick look at this facts surrounding Maryland show a pretty blue state. It almost seems like the Connecticut of the mid-Atlantic, but even more so. It has Democrat governor, it’s two Senators are Democrats, six of its eight U.S. reps are Dems, and the state legislature has a veto-proof Democratic majority. In this kind of state, like with Connecticut, I’m guessing the only reason those other two Republican U.S. reps are still there is because they are moderates. In my own state, Chris Shays is considered a moderate.

Republicans

Given the suggestion that Maryland favors moderate Republicans, I’m guessing John McCain is a pretty safe bet for this state. Huckabee will have a lot of trouble here. What is interesting about Maryland, though, is that it’s not a statewide winner-take-all situation, but a congressional district version. Regardless, though, I still think Huckabee has about as much chance as Ron Paul of getting delegates here. McCain’s just simply going to have a larger amount of votes in the two Republican congressional districts.

Democrats

This one is a little harder to tell, since both candidates are really very similar, except on a few issues. I’ll tentatively give the state to Clinton, but since most or all of the Democratic races are proportional, it could end up being very close here. The delegate counts could be very similar. So far, trends seem to show that Clinton is better in the cities, and Obama is better in the suburbs, so that’s the way this ball will probably roll.

District of Columbia

This is obviously the capital of the nation, and the politics here tend to be liberal. Its city council and mayor are Democrats, as is its non-voting delegate to the House of Representatives.

Republicans

I think Huckabee is also going to have a lot of trouble here, given the political orientation of the city. It doesn’t matter who lives in D.C.’s biggest house, it matters who the voters are electing, and they’re electing Democrats. I think McCain will again clinch it here, due to both politics, and his history in the city. He’s been here for a long time.

Democrats

This is another doozy. On one hand, I want to say Clinton will get it because she’s been here for so long. She has a sort of home court advantage, given that it was her permanent zip code for eight years. Obama is newer, but we know that doesn’t mean much, given how many pledged delegates each currently holds. I’m going to say Obama has a very good chance here. Still, I have to tentatively give it to Clinton.

Virginia

Now here’s a state I can really say a lot about. A first glance, some might pass it off as a conservative Southern state. It was a confederate state, after all. But hang on a second! One of its most popular governors of this decade was a Democrat, and the office retains a Democrat now. On the other hand, Virginia’s U.S. Senators are split between the two parties, but it has a greater number of Republicans for the House. The state legislature is also split up, with its House in weak Republican control, and its Senate in weak Democratic control.

However, Virginia does have one thing going for it that D.C. and Maryland just don’t have: The Independent factor. That’s right, the primaries for both parties in this state are open, meaning independents can vote here. So, that will keep this election interesting.

Republicans

McCain will obviously do well in urban areas. He’s also traditionally done well with Independents, and both will help him immensely. On the other hand, Virginia is starting to get into the South, where Huckabee has traditionally done well. Areas outside of urban centers tend to be Republican, and I definitely think the more west and south you go in Virginia, the more conservative you’ll be. You only need to look at West Virginia, where Huckabee won big, to see this.

The majority religious affiliation in Virginia, and by a large majority, is Baptist, and Huckabee was a Baptist minister, so that’s another thing going for him. The
rule seems to favor more moderates in the north, and more conservatives in the south and west. Rural areas are largely conservative, and urban centers more liberal.

It’s really hard to give a winner here. However, given Huckabee’s win in West Virginia, I’m going to have to tentatively give it to him, but it’ll be a weak win, I think. The politics of Virginia are becoming more dynamic as the years go on.

Democrats

Another hard one to guess for the Dems. However, lets gets some quickies out of the way. African Americans make up 20% of the population, so many of those I think will go to Obama. Hispanics, if I recall correctly, are favoring Clinton, and Virginia is seeing more and more immigration of Hispanics. So, those will go to her.

On the other hand, Virginia is a Southern state, and Obama has done well in those states. He’s also done well in the primarily rural states of the West. On the Independent front, they could easily be split up between both, but I don’t know the actual numbers of Independents to tell you so. However, given all those other facts, I’m going to have to give this one to Obama on a state-wide basis, and I also think he’ll do pretty well on the delegate count.

So, there you have it. Three races to get through today. On the Republican side, two are not so hard to guess, but one is a toss-up. For the Democrats, they’re all hard to guess, but I think history and make-up will determine a lot of those elections. Also keep in mind the proportional factor in the Democratic elections. Finally, Virginia’s Independents can participate today, which I think would play a large role in deciding that election, if not for the political and religious make-up of the state.

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