Attention, paranoids, By Doug Thompson

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Attention, paranoid Democrats: The election with Barack Obama as your presidential nominee would be much easier to steal.
Let’s walk through this.
SurveyUSA came out with polls in all 50 states that show either Hillary Clinton or Obama beating John McCain. Obama beats him slightly more, 280 Electoral College votes to Clinton’s 276. The winning threshold is 270.
A few people asked why I hadn’t written about that. Well, because horse-race polls taken seven months before the relevant election are worthless. That’s the short answer. However, there are a few solid facts we can get from the SurveyUSA poll, I’ve decided upon reflection — and after pollster.com did some analysis.
First off, Clinton and Obama are not interchangeable candidates after all: Not even close.
How many times have you heard something like this: Democrats would be just as happy in November with either candidate. It’s a win-win.
Well, that clearly doesn’t show up in SurveyUSA’s little experiment. The data shows that if the election were held today, Obama would lose Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, although he picks up more states. Even little old Arkansas figures in prominently. It goes from being very strong for Clinton, its former first lady, to very strong for McCain, depending on who the Democratic nominee is.
Either candidate “wins,” but there are clearly major differences between the two. There’s not a 1-to-1 exchange rate here.
Going over to the pollster.com and looking up their analysis of the SurveyUSA project (http://www.pollster.com/blogs/surveyusas_50_states_with_samp.php) is very worthwhile. Their article details the polls’ mechanical weaknesses much better than I can.
Pollster.com did some sorting with the data after making several disclaimers. The most important disclaimer is that the work on the SurveyUSA poll was done before Obama’s serious defeats in Texas and Ohio.
Obama has 209 Electoral College votes strongly in his column, by SurveyUSA’s results as interpreted by pollster.com. He has another 35 electoral votes leaning his way and 138 “toss ups.” Giving him all votes that are inclined to him, he would have 234 electoral votes. He’d need 36 of the 138 toss-ups, or about 26 percent.
There is the problem: 61 of the 138 toss-up votes in an Obama-McCain contest come from Texas and Florida. Frankly, Texas hasn’t voted for a Democratic president since 1976. Florida is very friendly to McCain and is Hillary country.
If Obama loses Texas and Florida — with or without a little “help” — Obama needs almost half of the 77 electoral votes available in the remaining seven “toss-up” states.
Assuming he splits those states in close contests but scrapes by, a “changed” result in any of those states — Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina or Virginia — would beat him.
Notably, Nebraska is a rarity that splits its Electoral College votes by congressional district.
Furthermore, readers of one of my recent Morning News column know that I don’t believe Obama can win Ohio. If Obama doesn’t win Ohio, he doesn’t win under any mix of SurveyUSA’s numbers.
Clinton has 199 Electoral College votes in her “strong” category and 51 in those “leaning” her way. If she gets all those, she’d only need 20 of the toss-ups. However, her candidacy pushes so many people into the “strong McCain” or “lean McCain” category, only 65 toss-up electoral votes remain in the air. Clinton would need 20 of those — more than 30 percent.
Pennsylvania alone would provide Clinton’s needed 20 votes. If she does not win Pennsylvania, she would have to take Michigan plus any one of the four remaining states in her toss-up category with McCain. If she doesn’t take Pennsylvania and Michigan, she’d have to win both Washington state and Tennessee.
In short, Clinton’s concrete appears very dry, especially since she’s running against another known quantity in John McCain.
It’s been said that Clintons don’t get swift-boated. Well, Clintons don’t get their chads dangled, either.
Does anybody out there wonder who’d be the better candidate for the Democrats in a fight over disputed election results fight, ala Al Gore’s?

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