In American states, past voting trends and the number of electoral college votes up for grabs shape presidential candidates’ campaigns, as Gerald Seib describes in the WSJ:
The important thing to remember about a presidential election is that it isn’t a contest to win the popular vote nationwide. It is a contest to win in a combination of states that will produce the 270 votes in the electoral college that give a candidate the majority there.
This year, writes Seib, the Democrats have the advantage.
They happen to start with a bloc of reliably blue states that is larger, and much richer in electoral votes, than the reliably red bloc Republicans have on their side. If a Democratic presidential candidate merely hangs on to this trove of deep-blue states, he or she is a long way down the road to victory.Specifically, there are 18 states plus the District of Columbia that have voted Democratic in all five presidential elections since 1992. Combined, they carry 242 electoral votes—90% of the votes needed for victory.
The press, which once idolized Obama and giddily compared him to Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt is now busily writing him off. The endless horse race style coverage of the campaign is a distraction from more important and more urgent news. The American press devotes too many resources to covering events that will be utterly forgotten in six months’ time. Readers don’t have to play along; Via Meadia recommends a policy of rigorously rationing the time and brain space devoted to ephemeral trivial of this kind.
Seib’s piece is an important reminder that it is much too early to predict the outcome of an election that will likely be determined by events that have not yet occurred.