Romney = Obama

I was looking at the county-by-county returns in Ohio last night (hey, I did used to live there) and marvelled at how much it looked like a typical red-blue electoral map.  Romney lost the vast majority of counties, but won because he won the large urban counties where the people actually are.

Of course, I’m not the only person to notice this.  TNR’s Alex McGillis comments:

I want to focus in on a geographic irony that emerged more clearly Tuesday night than it has in the earlier primaries. Namely, that Romney does well in the places where Barack Obama does well, and he does poorly in the places where Obama does poorly. This was true in Ohio, where Romney won easily in the big metro areas of Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus while losing to Santorum in the rural counties, much as Obama and Hillary Clinton split the state in 2008. But it’s even more striking when one considers Oklahoma and Tennessee. Romney did terribly in those states—in Tennessee, he won only in Nashville’s Davidson County. And those two states are in the heart of what I’ve come to consider Obama-loathing territory: the nearly contiguous swath of this country where John McCain performed better than George W. Bush had four years earlier, even as McCain performed far worse than Bush overall. This band runs from southwestern Pennsylvania, down through the rest of Appalachia and west across the upland South, encompassing most of Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas and Oklahoma before petering out in north-central Texas (Rick Perry country!)…

On the upside for Romney, one could argue that he will be as competitive as a Republican can hope to be in the metro suburbs of Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Colorado, etc. The post-Reagan comeback of the Democrats is due pretty much entirely to the party having won back well-educated, suburban voters in big metro areas. (Remember: Suburban Chicago, New York and Philly used to be Republican, and not so long ago.) Republicans need a nominee who can hold his own in suburban St. Louis, Cleveland, and Denver.

But the downside for Romney in this ironic alignment between his geographic strengths and Obama’s is that it underscores how poorly suited he is for this moment in his party’s trajectory—and for the campaign he himself is trying to run.

Will indeed be interesting to see whether this pattern is actually net positive or negative for Romney.  I’m inclined to go with the positive.  He certainly is way more competitive in these blue leaning areas than most any other potential Republican nominee would be.  And as for his weakness among the “Obama-loathing” base.  Come on, are those people really just going to sit this out?

No wonder I never get anything done

Via Wonkblog (where I was just reading when I ought to be working on a PS conference paper):

The less sleep you get, the more easily you can get distracted from work by reading Wonkblog (or watching cat videos, or whatever). From a new study in the Journal of Applied Psychology:

As predicted, the less students had slept the night before, the more they were likely to wander off from their assigned task. Conversely, every minute of sleep meant .05 fewer minutes surfing. The connection with disturbed sleep was also strong: “An hour of disturbed sleep would on average result in cyberloafing during 20% of the assigned task.”

Not to mention, I hate feeling tired.  Though, I have recovered from my low point where I was consistently falling asleep while reading to my son each evening.

Photo of the day

Well, this is certainly an interesting collection (via Buzzfeed).  Disabled protesters in Bolivia clashing with riot police:


Super Tuesday for Slovakians

This is what I wrote for my journalist friend at Pravda.  It will have to suffice for my blog readers as well…

Super Tuesday was more another case of Romney avoiding a big disaster than having a big triumph. Yes, he did win 6 of the 10 states up for grabs, but given his massive advantage in money, organization, and support from Republican elites, his inability to convincingly win in more states is widely seen as a source of weakness. Most notably, he won the state of Ohio by the barest of margins (38-37) when this state was the most important focus of the campaign and we was able to greatly outspend and out-organize Santorum. In short, if he had lost Ohio, this would have raised even more doubts about this campaign. By winning by such a small margin, though, he is unable to shake the widespread perception among the media and voters that he is a battered, bruised, and weak frontrunner.

From my perspective, Romney is very lucky to be running against such weak competition. His main opponents, Santorum and Romney, are both very flawed candidates who were never given much chance by anybody for precisely this reason. The fact that they have succeeded as much as they have against Romney really points to Romney’s own weakness.

Given the number of delegates he’s won, his ongoing huge advantages in money, organization and elite support, and the fact that, to a degree, opposition is still divided between Gingrich and Santorum (though, mostly Santorum at this point), it really is hard to see anybody other than Romney being the Republican nominee. Nonetheless, given his inability to truly pull away from his rivals– especially in key contests like Ohio– it seems quite likely that Romney will continue to have a bumpy ride throughout the primary process. Still, I think the ultimate take-away point is that Romney remains very much the likely nominee and he solidified that position. Back in January I was lamenting at what a boring nomination process this was looking to be, but all the factors I mentioned above have worked together to make this a much more interesting and dramatic primary season than any scholar or journalist would have predicted.

Hooray for Catholics

A little common sense.  But this from the Ohio exit poll certainly surprised me:

My guess is that it is other demographics correlated with religion that is driving this, rather that the Catholic/Protestant split.  I’d put my money on urban/rural.

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