In Part 1 I explained why I think Hillary is likely the 2016 Democratic Nominee for President, and why I think she could lose. Part 2 is dedicated to how I think the “Ready for Hillary” express picks up 270 electoral votes.
First, it's time to start doing the “I'm not in this administration and I don't agree with them” shuffle. Obama's numbers speak loudly, and the message is to stay away from him right now. Obama looks a lot like Dubbya did in 2007-2008. Old, worn out, and just sort of done. We know that's part of the Presidency, especially the looking old aspect, but the idea that the outgoing President is basically poison for the campaign trail may not be specific to these two, but instead a sort of "new normal" in American Presidential politics. Plus, anyone still openly in support of Obama is already likely to vote Hillary any way, so his upside is very limited.
Second, Hillary should begin vetting and prepping Missouri's Governor, Jay Nixon, to be her VP nominee. (I saw you roll your eyes.) I'm as serious as Al Gore giving a climate talk, but probably more accurate. So, let's answer the question: Why Jay Nixon?
It's all about that magical number of 270, and the method matters little compared to the results.
Missouri has 10 electoral votes (it was 11, Missouri lost people so it went down, for more on this and other electoral college issues, see my 2012 series) and since 2000 has gone from fairly purple to a deep crimson red. Yet, the major population centers routinely vote blue and only 20 years ago the state went for Clinton. In fact, until 2008 Missouri had voted for the winner in every Presidential election for a very long time, and was a leading bell weather state.
Jay Nixon is not wildly popular in Missouri, but he also isn't wildly unpopular either. His handling of the situation in Ferguson was less than inspiring, not Presidential, and sadly amateurish for such a seasoned politician. Yet, the conversation on Ferguson is an easy pivot to police brutality, police militarization, and racial profiling. It becomes more of a set up in a stump speech than a great attack point because in order for Republicans to attack Nixon on the topic they have to admit that the underlying action was at least questionable, and they will NOT want to do that.
Nixon may not flip Missouri from red to blue, but he would force the Republicans to spend money and time in a State that got almost zero national attention in 2012 and not much more in 2008. Putting Missouri in play diverts money and time from states like New Mexico, Colorado, Virginia, and Ohio. Those are all states the GOP candidate would need (except maybe Colorado) to win in 2016, especially Ohio.
Nixon isn't the only VP choice that can have this type of effect, but I do think he's the only one that genuinely puts a foregone conclusion type red state into the contested column. That's a powerful tool as a VP candidate.
Nixon also adds to the political theater necessary to win the high office. Fair or not, Hillary will face additional scrutiny that a male candidate would not face. Nixon is a tall, farm boy type male and totally balances out the visual. Plus, some people will look to the man to lead, or step in and speak but Nixon just isn't that guy. Biden is. Bill Clinton is. Jay Nixon isn't. He'd be perfect at appearing Presidential while Hillary leads and sets the tone, while he simply backs her up like a good VP. Instead of "shouldn't HE just be the President" it becomes about how Nixon appears Presidential without usurping the candidate. It's very similar to how Biden interacted with Obama.
I think of Nixon as the exact opposite pick as Palin. It's safe, won't shock any one, and he most likely won't feel the need to create his own party during the campaign. Plus, I'm fairly certain he can name a supreme court case, or even two.
With or Without, 270 Is Probable
Here are the states I already put in Clinton's camp, regardless of VP pick (from West to East): Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Rhode Island, and D.C.
That's 261 electoral votes. I've left out Arkansas, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, New Mexico, and Virginia. Just by taking Ohio, Virginia, Missouri, or Indiana the race would be over. Plus, do I really have to explain why Arkansas is a toss up state for Hillary?
Notice what state I haven't even mentioned? Any body? Florida. The Republicans can win Florida by 10% and it won't matter. Which lessens Rubio's value for them, but that's for another day.
Nixon balances the ticket with a moderate, blue dog style Democrat from the midwest and puts a state in play that could, all by itself, win the election for Hillary. He probably wont' say anything great, but he's also less likely to pull a Biden and he's been constant on all women's issues which is important for Hillary to keep her main base excited. Plus, with the right handlers (any one but the people he has now basically) Nixon can be an asset, exactly the opposite of what Palin was in 2008. When I fill in the map of Hillary against any of the current Republican's in the field Christie has the best outcome and I predict him losing 313 to 225, even giving him New Jersey. It's a numbers game, and right now the edge goes to Hillary across the board.
I'm being less conservative with my predictions in 2016 than I was in 2012. I had Obama winning the whole time, but I predicted a much closer electoral map.