The American West A Rare Location For Presidential Contenders And Nominees Historically

Historically, the vast majority of Presidential contenders and nominees have come from no further west than the Great Plains.

And only two Presidential nominees, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan, have been elected from the vast area west of the Great Plains. Even Nixon, when he ran for President the second time in 1968, was actually a resident of New York, while Reagan had spent his early life in Illinois, before migrating to Hollywood for an acting career.

Only two Presidential candidates, other than Nixon and Reagan, have made it as the nominees of their party, both from Arizona–Senators Barry Goldwater and John McCain.

The Mountain States have been particularly lacking in Presidential contenders historically, with only Senator Gary Hart and Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder of Colorado; Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico; Governor Bruce Babbitt of Arizona; and Senator Frank Church of Idaho having ever conducted campaigns for President, along with Senator William Borah of Idaho early in the 20th century.

Now, we have two Coloradans, former Governor John Hickenlooper and Senator Michael Bennet, contending for the Democratic Presidential nomination, and the soon to be contending Governor Steve Bullock of Montana, expected to announce in mid May.

Looking at the Pacific Coast states, we have only had Governor Jerry Brown of California and Senator Henry (Scoop) Jackson of Washington who have contended for the Presidency, along with Senator Hiram Johnson of California attempting a run in the early 20th century.

Now, we have Senator Kamala Harris of California and Congressman Eric Swalwell of California, Governor Jay Inslee of Washington, and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, all running for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

Other than California, the likelihood of a future nominee or winner of the Presidency from those states west of the Great Plains would seem to be highly unlikely, as the population is much smaller than in the rest of the nation, although growth has been going on in some of those states, particularly Colorado, Arizona, and Washington.

7 comments on “The American West A Rare Location For Presidential Contenders And Nominees Historically

  1. D May 6, 2019 3:46 pm

    This is an interesting topic.

    One thing to keep in mind is: When it comes to the 48 contiguous states, there are four time zones: Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific. I live in Michigan, which is mostly Eastern (applicable to me) but also Central (nearing the border to Wisconsin). Although there are other states which have parts observing more than one time zone, I created the following map:

    Those on more right side of the map are in time zones of Central and/or Eastern. Those on the left side are in Mountain and/or Pacific.

    The Central/Eastern side, which includes District of Columbia, add up to 410 electoral votes. The Mountain/Pacific side, but I am also including Alaska and Hawaii, add up to 128 electoral votes. With an allocation of 538 electoral votes, the Central/Eastern side is 76.20 percent and the Mountain/Pacific side is 23.79 percent.

    This tells us about populations. A good three of every four persons, residents of the United States, live in the combined Central/Eastern time zones. The only Top 10 populous state from the Mountain/Pacific side is California. Its 55 electoral votes, from that area’s combined 128, is 42.96 percent.

    What Ronald writes about the history makes plenty of sense. It is not surprising. And, yes, it is very interesting.

  2. Ronald May 6, 2019 4:47 pm

    D, thanks for your compliments on this article.

    You added insight, as usual, by what you wrote, and I thank you.

    I wonder why you make it out as if the 410 are Blue and the 128 are RED, haha, but if that was the case, the Democrats would easily win all of the Presidential elections, and control both houses of Congress, but of course, that is NOT the case, just a dream, lol.

    Thanks again, D, for your contribution on this article!

  3. Pragmatic Progressive May 6, 2019 4:58 pm

    MSNBC showed a clip of Kamala Harris talking in Detroit at an NAACP event. She mentioned that media coverage concerning electability seems to be focusing on white candidates and white voters.

    In addition to that, I’ve noticed that the media seems to be focusing on the male candidates more than the females.

  4. D May 6, 2019 6:37 pm

    Ronald writes,

    “I wonder why you [D] make it out as if the 410 are Blue and the 128 are RED, haha, but if that was the case, the Democrats would easily win all of the Presidential elections, and control both houses of Congress, but of course, that is NOT the case, just a dream, lol.”

    Illustration purposes.

    Between those two primaries, red is the hue which grabs one’s attention first. (In high school, I was in an Algebra class with an assignment of graphs. I used red with one particular assignment. My teacher, having graded my assignment, let me know for now on to choose a different color. Red belongs to the teacher.)

    Generally, I am a person who likes colors. So, I am good with red, blue and, the third primary, yellow (and others).

    I first thought of adding to what you wrote—most of which singled out states in the Mountain/Pacific (and we can consider Alaska and Hawaii) time zones—with using as illustration an electoral map. So, I chose to apply the red to those 13 states that are not on Central and/or Eastern time.

    I realized the map would be notable because of Republican-vs.-Democrat hues of red and blue. The closest election, within the last 50 years, we had to that image, that outcome, was in 1976. That was a Democratic pickup year for 39th U.S. president Jimmy Carter having unseated Republican incumbent and 38th U.S. president Gerald Ford. The only state in Carter’s column not from the Central/Eastern time zones was his pickup of Hawaii.

    It is interesting to me, as well, that for those who do not live in the Central/Eastern time zones, two of every four such persons are living in the state of California.

    A lot of this makes more sense than some of us realize.

    This also moves me to mention the following:

    The Top 10 populous states—California, Texas, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, and Michigan—comprise approximately 54 percent of the nation’s residents. For arguments against the Electoral College, the credible argument against continuation is due to the U.S. Senate seats being folded into total electoral-vote allocations. The U.S. Senate has two members each state, regardless of population, while the U.S. House very much regards population with proportional representation. So, if one sets aside the 100 U.S. Senate seats, adjusts +1 for representation with District of Columbia, this would bring an allocation of 436 between the 50 states plus D.C. The Top 10 populous states combine for 236 congressional districts. So, this means 54.12 percent of the nation lives in a Top 10 state. And, as I previously mentioned, only one such Top 10 populous state is in the Mountain/Pacific time zones area: California.

  5. D May 6, 2019 6:48 pm

    With the last paragraph, I did not compete a point:

    The current Electoral College system—folding in U.S. Senate seats for the total electoral-vote allocations—gives a combined 256 electoral votes to the Top 10 populous states out of a total 538 from the 50 states plus District of Columbia. That is 47.58 percent from the Top 10 states which have populations which are actually 54.12 percent of the nation as reflected from those proportional-based congressional districts.

  6. Pragmatic Progressive May 9, 2019 4:52 pm

    Promising Transformational Change Won’t Ignite African American Voters

    A lot of pundits are beginning to caution Democrats that veering too far to the left on policies could damage their prospects in the 2020 race by alienating moderate Democrats and Independents. Here is how Ronald Brownstein introduced the concern.

    Liberals drawn to 2020 contenders such as Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are arguing that Democrats must advance a “transformational” agenda that can ignite higher turnout among minorities and young people while still recapturing some of the disaffected white voters who were drawn to Trump’s promise to disrupt the political system…
    Meanwhile, centrists attracted to candidates such as former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Amy Klobuchar insist that Democrats must find a nominee and formulate an agenda that holds the support of swing voters, who are contented with the economy and may support some of Trump’s economic policies, but dislike his views on race and culture and find him personally unfit for the presidency.

    But that framing is loaded with assumptions that are worth a closer look. First of all, Biden is the candidate who has recently been cast as the one who can appeal to “disaffected white voters.” So I suspect that he and Sanders are both competing for that group. But are Sanders and Warren the candidates who can “ignite higher turnout among minorities and young people?” As Martin Longman recently pointed out, Biden is actually the one who has overwhelming support among voters of color and leads Sanders with voters under 50 years of age.

    One of the things that contributes to the false notion that people of color are attracted to the “transformational agenda” of a candidate like Sanders is the fact that the media spotlight has been trained on newly-elected Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, both of whom represent deeply blue districts. Much less attention has been paid to representatives like Colin Allred, Lucy McBath, and Sharice Davids, who were elected in much more moderate Republican-leaning districts. While those three are establishing strong progressive records—especially on issues such as universal access to health care and common sense gun safety measures—they aren’t attempting to upend the entire system.

    But the analysis also dismisses what happened four years ago during the presidential primary that came down to a contest between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. That race was mostly decided by the southern primaries, where African Americans play a predominant role in the Democratic Party. Early on, Clinton outperformed Sanders by 47 points in the South Carolina primary. As you head west, Clinton beat Sanders by 43 points in Georgia, 58 points in Alabama, 66 points in Mississippi, and 48 points in Louisiana.

    That showing sparked some conversation about why African Americans were supporting the more “pragmatic” candidate, which I touched on here. New York Times columnist Charles Blow had a strong reaction to Sanders supporters who were “Bernie-Splaining to black voters,” so he turned the tables in an attempt to explain the pragmatism of black voters. First, he quoted James Baldwin to describe why they are skeptical of big promises from politicians.

    “Our people” have functioned in this country for nearly a century as political weapons, the trump card up the enemies’ sleeve; anything promised Negroes at election time is also a threat leveled at the opposition; in the struggle for mastery the Negro is the pawn.

    Blow followed with this.

    Even black folks who don’t explicitly articulate this intuitively understand it.
    History and experience have burned into the black American psyche a sort of functional pragmatism that will be hard to erase. It is a coping mechanism, a survival mechanism, and its existence doesn’t depend on others’ understanding or approval.

    To the extent that pragmatism is fueled by an understanding that progress is always tempered by compromise, African Americans look to the fact that, while Abraham Lincoln was willing to fight the civil war to end slavery, he never championed their right to vote. Progressive hero FDR was willing to sacrifice many benefits of the New Deal for African Americans in order to gain the support of Dixiecrats. With good reason, black voters are reluctant to trust white people. That explains why they withheld their support for Barack Obama until he demonstrated that he could win in the predominantly white state of Iowa.

    Of course, it is also true that African Americans are much more diverse in their political positions than most people in the media acknowledge. But overall, they are less likely to support a candidate who promises idealistic transformational change and tend to prefer a more pragmatic approach. What has changed in the last few years, however, is that they are also less likely to support candidates who take their vote for granted, especially on issues that are a matter of life and death to their community.

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