So, let's look at how we arrived at this juncture where McCain has vaulted to the head of the pack in the race to lead the Republican party.
Here are the states that McCain has won thus far: NH, SC, FL, NY, NJ, CT, DE, IL, MO, OK, AZ, CA
Now, I went through and did a little analysis of how these states have voted in the last four presidential elections which have all been, more or less, of the non-landslide variety. States that voted 100% Republican or Democratic were labeled red or blue, respectively; states that went 3 out of 4 one way or the other were labeled as leaning red or blue; and those which were split 50:50 were labeled as toss-ups. A case can be made that some of these states are trending one way or another based on recent state elections and other factors, but I thought I'd keep it simple for this analysis. Here we have the breakdown of Senator McCain's primary victories in red and blue:
Red States: SC, OK
Lean Red: FL, AZ
Lean Blue: NH
Blue: NY, NJ, CT, DE, IL, CA
To put this in perspective, the 7 "blue" and "lean blue" states that McCain has won thus far have cast a grand total of 552 electoral votes in the last 4 elections. 548 of those votes have gone to the Democratic nominee, and 4 (count 'em!) to the Republican. Furthermore, all 14 of the US Senators from these states are Democrats, such as current and former Democratic presidential contenders Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, and Joe Lieberman of Kerry/Lieberman fame. Bottom line: These are not states that the Republicans are going to carry in November.
Further, the largest chunk of McCain's delegates have come from the deep blue "winner take all" states of NY, NJ, CT, and DE (IL is not technically a "winner take all" state, but it might as well be as McCain got 55 delegates to Romney's 3 for a 47/29% win), which means, in effect, that these states which will not vote for the Republican nominee in November have an out-sized influence in determining who that nominee will be.
Also, according to exit poll data available through CNN, McCain has failed to carry the voters who identify themselves as "conservative" in all of the states that he has won except for the deep blue states of IL, NJ, and NY (I can't find any poll data for DE), and he hasn't won the conservative vote in any of the states that he hasn't won. (Romney and Huckabee have both won the conservative vote in states that they lost overall.)
So, to recap:
- McCain now has a huge advantage in terms of delegates and momentum to gain the Republican nomination
- McCain's front runner status is the result of his winning 7 deep blue states (including the states with the 1st and 3rd largest number of electoral votes) that, if history holds, won't vote for a Republican in November, 3 that might (MO, FL, AZ), and 2 that probably will (SC, OK)
- The largest chunk of McCain's delegates come from deep blue "winner take all" states that, again, won't vote for a Republican in November
- McCain has lost the conservative vote in every one of the 28 states that have held contests thus far (I'm leaving LA and HI out for now since no delegates have been assigned) except for the 3 deep blues states of IL, NY, and NJ
What a great primary system! Totally fitting for the greatest democracy the world has ever known. Special thanks go out to Iowa and New Hampshire for insisting on having to be first at any cost, all the other states that moved up their primaries so as to allow no time for the voting public to digest and correct the inevitable idiocy of the early states, to Rudy Giuliani and the various state legislatures for the "winner take all" rules (which even the Democrats were clever enough to see as a unhelpful in a primary process), and to the RNC and Congress which let is all happen. Well played.
How about, for 2012, we just have the candidates get on TV, give a stump speech, sing a song, hear what Randy, Paula, and Simon have to say, and then let everyone just text in their vote for the nominee? It couldn't possibly be any worse than what we're seeing right now.
And the sad reality, or course, is that about 8 times as many people decide who should stay in the race to be the American Idol every week as have cast their vote to determine who our nominee is going to be.
As Liz Lemon would say, "Blerg".