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“A Bizarrely Common Argument”: No, Hillary Doesn’t Have An Obligation To Try To Win Over Southern White Voters

Do presidential candidates have an obligation to campaign everywhere, and to make particular appeals to every demographic group? That’s the case made by this big article that appeared in Sunday’s New York Times and continues to drive discussion today. Here’s an excerpt:

Hillary Rodham Clinton appears to be dispensing with the nationwide electoral strategy that won her husband two terms in the White House and brought white working-class voters and great stretches of what is now red-state America back to Democrats.

Instead, she is poised to retrace Barack Obama’s far narrower path to the presidency: a campaign focused more on mobilizing supporters in the Great Lakes states and in parts of the West and South than on persuading undecided voters.

Mrs. Clinton’s aides say it is the only way to win in an era of heightened polarization, when a declining pool of voters is truly up for grabs. Her liberal policy positions, they say, will fire up Democrats, a less difficult task than trying to win over independents in more hostile territory — even though a broader strategy could help lift the party with her.

This early in the campaign, however, forgoing a determined outreach effort to all 50 states, or even most of them, could mean missing out on the kind of spirited conversation that can be a unifying feature of a presidential election. And it could leave Mrs. Clinton, if she wins, with the same difficulties Mr. Obama has faced in governing with a Republican-controlled Congress.

In terms of geography, this is a bizarre — yet bizarrely common — argument. I addressed this at some length in this piece at the American Prospect, but the simple fact is that as long as we have an Electoral College and 48 of the 50 states assign their electors on a winner-take-all basis, there is absolutely no reason for candidates to campaign in states where they have no chance of winning. So they don’t. They also don’t campaign in states where they have no chance of losing.

Neither the Democratic nor the Republican nominee will spend large amounts of time stumping for votes in California, nor in Oklahoma, because everyone already knows what the outcome in those states will be. Democratic senator Joe Manchin is quoted in the article saying Clinton should campaign in his home state of West Virginia, since if Al Gore had won the state in 2000, he would have been president. But in the last presidential election, Barack Obama lost West Virginia by 27 points. If Manchin actually thinks Clinton or any Democratic presidential contender has a shot there, he may not be quite the political genius he fancies himself.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributing Writer, The Plum Line, The Washington Post, June 8, 2015

June 12, 2015 - Posted by | Election 2016, Hillary Clinton, Red States | , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. To be frank, the folks who need her help the most are in the southern states. With the failure to embrace Medicaid expansion, conservative states have harmed their people of all political persuasions, their rural hospitals and economies. Also, the states with the worst record on deaths in childbirth are these same states. Plus, with so many coastal states, especially with stances like that of Gov. Rick Scott in FL on climate change, this is an issue to hammer home. Our planet can ill-afford a President who does not understand the problem climate change is. The Pope knows more about climate change, which is an indictment of the GOP, yet I should caveat that the Pope has Masters in Chemistry .

    Like

    Comment by btg5885 | June 12, 2015 | Reply


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