Amadeus

Gone Fishin'
In 1987, the two leading Democratic contenders for 1988 were Gary Hart and Mario Cuomo. Yet Cuomo, despite his popularity, pulled himself out of the race in February 1987 and Hart's sex scandal torpedoed his campaign. Ultimately, Michael Dukakis won the nomination but managed to blow a seventeen point lead against Bush and he lost in a landslide. What if Cuomo had instead decided to enter the race? Would he have won the nomination? How well would he have done against Bush?
 

Chapman

Donor
While I think Cuomo would've won the Democratic nomination rather easily, i'm not convinced he would've beaten Bush. It's certainly possible, and some would argue plausible, but I think it would be rather close and far from a Democrat landslide. Cuomo's initial appeal would fade over the course of the election, and his aggressively liberal views could be tough to sell in the immediate post-Reagan era. He may do better than Dukakis, however, in the swing states of the midwest as well as more liberal states like Illinois and Maryland. All in all, he certainly would've had a shot to win IMO, but it would be far from guaranteed even when/if he got the nomination.
 

Amadeus

Gone Fishin'
While I think Cuomo would've won the Democratic nomination rather easily, i'm not convinced he would've beaten Bush. It's certainly possible, and some would argue plausible, but I think it would be rather close and far from a Democrat landslide. Cuomo's initial appeal would fade over the course of the election, and his aggressively liberal views could be tough to sell in the immediate post-Reagan era. He may do better than Dukakis, however, in the swing states of the midwest as well as more liberal states like Illinois and Maryland. All in all, he certainly would've had a shot to win IMO, but it would be far from guaranteed even when/if he got the nomination.

It would be similar to 1960 IMO. A popular incumbent Republican who is term limited, a VP with personality issues (at the time Bush was dismissed by many as an elitist Ivy Leaguer and "a wimp"), and a charismatic but controversial Democrat who will need to carefully clarify his views in order to win. Atwater would spread rumors about Cuomo having mafia ties, which Cuomo would then dismiss as bigoted slander. Cuomo was good at appealing to the economic concerns of working Americans and this could help win back some Reagan Democrats. He also tried to escape the liberal label by calling himself a "progressive pragmatist." But like Dukakis he will have to answer for his opposition to the death penalty and would most likely pick Bentsen as VP. Were Cuomo to win, it would be by a very slender margin.
 
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Chapman

Donor
It would look like 1960 IMO. A popular incumbent Republican who is term limited, a VP with personality issues (at the time Bush was dismissed by many as an elitist Ivy Leaguer and "a wimp"), and a charismatic but somewhat controversial Democrat who will need to carefully clarify his views in order to win. Atwater would probably spread rumors about Cuomo having mafia ties, which Cuomo would then dismiss as bigoted slander. Cuomo was very good at appealing to the economic anxities and "family values" of working Americans and this could help win back some Reagan Democrats. He also tried to escape the liberal label by calling himself a "progressive pragmatist." But like Dukakis he will have to answer for his opposition to the death penalty and would most likely pick Bentsen as VP. Were Cuomo to win, it would probably be less than 2-3% in the popular vote.

The Electoral College is the trickiest part of it in my opinion - the math just seems to favor Bush. Cuomo would have to win essentially all of the close states from OTL (Washington, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Vermont, California, Wisconsin, Missouri, New York, Oregon, West Virginia, & New Mexico) as well as Michigan in order to take a majority. I'm just not sure if I can see a progressive liberal from New York winning ALL of those states, even though Cuomo was very good at appearing more moderate than he was. It could happen, but i'm doubtful that it would.
 

Amadeus

Gone Fishin'
The Electoral College is the trickiest part of it in my opinion - the math just seems to favor Bush. Cuomo would have to win essentially all of the close states from OTL (Washington, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Vermont, California, Wisconsin, Missouri, New York, Oregon, West Virginia, & New Mexico) as well as Michigan in order to take a majority. I'm just not sure if I can see a progressive liberal from New York winning ALL of those states, even though Cuomo was very good at appearing more moderate than he was. It could happen, but i'm doubtful that it would.

Switching most of those states isn't very hard to do if you flip only 4-5% of the vote over to the Democrats. Remember that Dukakis, a northeast liberal like Cuomo, had a massive lead that evaporated after several mistakes that most other candidates are unlikely to make. (E.g., riding around in a tank, returning to his home state after the convention instead of campaigning across the country, not responding to GOP attacks, etc). I think Cuomo could have won by waging the kind of aggressive, articulate campaign that Dukakis should have run. However, I agree that the election would be close no matter the outcome. At his possible best Cuomo would get maybe 300-302 electoral votes, a more realistic outcome is between 270-300 votes for either Bush or Cuomo depending on who wins.
 
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Chapman

Donor
Switching most of those states isn't very hard to do if you flip only 4-5% of the vote over to the Democrats. Remember that Dukakis, an ethnic northeast liberal like Cuomo, had a massive lead that evaporated after several foolish mistakes that most other candidates are unlikely to make. (E.g., riding around in a tank, returning to his home state after the convention instead of campaigning across the country, not responding to GOP attacks, etc). There's no reason that Bush should've won in 1988: the country was coming off Iran-Contra and a stock market crash. Yet he was able to win because one man decided to wage an awful campaign. I think Cuomo could have won by waging the kind of aggressive, articulate campaign that Dukakis should have. However, I agree that the election would be close no matter the outcome. At his possible best Cuomo would get maybe 300-302 electoral votes, a more realistic outcome is between 270-300 votes for either Bush or Cuomo depending on who wins.

It depends on which states he can flip, and by how much - I'm assuming that if Cuomo can manage to take Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, he's probably also flipping Ohio. I also give him Maryland as a given, seeing how close it was IOTL, which puts him at 214. California would be the next big prize to go after, IMO, seeing as it went to Bush by less than 5%. So assuming he manages to take it, he gets bumped to 261. If California can be flipped, I'll bet New Mexico goes with it, putting him at 266 to Bush's 272. However, in such a scenario, I also think it's reasonable to say that he's performing so strongly on the national stage that can can also (possibly) flip Vermont and Connecticut, as well as Montana and Colorado even if only narrowly. If that all happened, he'd come out of a hard fought election with 289 EV. However, that's making a lot of assumptions about which states would flip according to their neighbors. If Bush can somehow hold onto Ohio (still losing all those other states) by even 1%, then it goes the other way and the Vice President squeaks by with 272. I could see this being a scenario where Cuomo loses the EC but wins the popular vote, setting him up for round 2, if he wants it, in 1992.

Edit: Accounting for Missouri in a strong-Cuomo scenario, that would put him at 300 EVs exactly. However, if Bush did still somehow win Ohio, it'd be 277 (seems rather unlikely, though).
 

Amadeus

Gone Fishin'
It depends on which states he can flip, and by how much - I'm assuming that if Cuomo can manage to take Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, he's probably also flipping Ohio. I also give him Maryland as a given, seeing how close it was IOTL, which puts him at 214. California would be the next big prize to go after, IMO, seeing as it went to Bush by less than 5%. So assuming he manages to take it, he gets bumped to 261. If California can be flipped, I'll bet New Mexico goes with it, putting him at 266 to Bush's 272. However, in such a scenario, I also think it's reasonable to say that he's performing so strongly on the national stage that can can also (possibly) flip Vermont and Connecticut, as well as Montana and Colorado even if only narrowly. If that all happened, he'd come out of a hard fought election with 289 EV. However, that's making a lot of assumptions about which states would flip according to their neighbors. If Bush can somehow hold onto Ohio (still losing all those other states) by even 1%, then it goes the other way and the Vice President squeaks by with 272. I could see this being a scenario where Cuomo loses the EC but wins the popular vote, setting him up for round 2, if he wants it, in 1992.

Edit: Accounting for Missouri in a strong-Cuomo scenario, that would put him at 300 EVs exactly. However, if Bush did still somehow win Ohio, it'd be 277 (seems rather unlikely, though).

In such a scenario Cuomo wouldn't have much of a mandate to govern, and neither would Bush if he narrowly pulled through. So either Cuomo leads like JFK and makes small steps towards big goals, or he leads like Clinton and blows his entire Congressional majority on bills with insufficient public support. Given his experience and ability as Governor of New York I'd say the former is more likely, and in such a scenario the Democrats would be on track to keep their majorities in 1990 and 1992.
 
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Chapman

Donor
In such a scenario Cuomo wouldn't have much of a mandate to govern, and neither would Bush if he narrowly pulled through. So either Cuomo leads like JFK and makes small steps towards big goals, or he leads like Clinton and blows his entire Congressional majority on bills with insufficient public support. Given his experience and ability as Governor of New York I'd say the former is more likely, and in such a scenario the Democrats would be on track to keep their majorities in 1990 and 1992. 1994 would prove more worrisome given the unusual number of Democratic retirements that year, but the Gringrich Revolution as we know it is extremely unlikely to occur.

It would also require some tactful redefining of what a "mandate" is or is not. If Cuomo wins with 300 EVs, taking CA, NM, CO and the midwestern swing states (including OH), he could certainly make an argument that this was a sweeping victory due to a strong Democratic performance in states that weren't necessarily "in the bag" for them. It would depend on how the down ballot looks as well, but he could argue that his victory (though narrow) did give him a mandate. However i'm totally agreed that the smart thing, and most likely thing, for him to do is to take things slowly and work with Republicans to get small pieces of legislation passed.
 
In the 1988 presidential election in our timeline, Bush defeated Dukakis by a nationwide popular vote percentage margin of 7.72% and an electoral vote margin of 315. The nationwide popular vote margin was pretty average for post World War 2 presidential elections. Turnout was weaker than normal and the percentages going to minor/ fringe party candidates was also lower than normal. Ron Paul came third in the nationwide popular vote with 0.47%.

In the Electoral College, the tipping point state was Michigan, which Bush won by 7.9% as opposed to his nationwide popular vote margin of 7.72%. So there was no particular advantage for either party in the Electoral College that year. Dukakis carried only 10 states while not getting blown out in the nationwide popular vote, but that is because in the 1980s in presidential elections states just didn't vary that much from the nationwide popular vote. During that electoral period, if you won the nationwide popular vote, you would win the Electoral College too, in fact usually you would get an EC blowout because states just didn't deviate that much from the nationwide popular vote. Bush won Colorado by 7.76%, and then there were another 10 states that Bush carried, but by less than his nationwide popular vote margin, so no an Electoral College reversal was not going to happen that year.

What variation between states in voting seems to have been entirely a function of how well the local economy did during the Reagan administration, so I don't think substituting another candidate for Dukakis would change that either. Cuomo would be similar to Dukakis (Ellis Island ethnic liberal governor of a northeastern state) with more charisma and who would have run a better fall campaign -it would have been almost impossible to run a worse one- and so he wins unless he really did have Mafia ties that would blow up in his face. But maybe there was Mafia stuff that kept him from running in the first place. ITTL they don't exist or are managed. The only other negative I can think of is Catholicism.

Cuomo as Prez in 1989-93 would probably lead to some big changes, even if he is in the White House for only a single term. You get a New Deal liberal coming in as the first Democratic president after Reagan instead of a technocrat (Dukakis) or a Southern Bourbon (Clinton). The Clinton administration will be butterflied away. I'm not sure if either the First Gulf War happens or NAFTA happens in this timeline. The George W Bush administration is butterflied away as well. Bob Dole stands a much better chance of becoming President ITTL, he probably skips 1992 since is Senate seat is up for election then and runs and wins in 1996. Cuomo will be somewhat better than Dukakis and building support for his policies and has a better chance at a second term.
 

Amadeus

Gone Fishin'
Bob Dole stands a much better chance of becoming President ITTL, he probably skips 1992 since is Senate seat is up for election then and runs and wins in 1996.

Dole resigned from the Senate in order to run for President in 1996, in his words it was either "the White House or home." In ATL 1992 he'd be the frontrunner as he was in OTL 1996; I see no reason he'd pass up the opportunity to make the conservative case against President Cuomo - even if it means not running for re-election.

As for ATL 1996, if Bentsen is VP in 1989 he'd probably be too old to run in 1996 so that leaves the Democratic field wide open. Or perhaps Cuomo picks Gore in 1988 and the VP is the heir apparent in '96. Either way, a Gore/Kerry ticket might be the result. I think if Bush Sr had lost in 1988, then Bush Jr would've become Governor of Texas four years earlier and run in 1996. But an even better economy than in 2000 and a scandal-free incumbent I think Dubya loses to Gore.
 
In the 1988 presidential election in our timeline, Bush defeated Dukakis by a nationwide popular vote percentage margin of 7.72% and an electoral vote margin of 315. The nationwide popular vote margin was pretty average for post World War 2 presidential elections. Turnout was weaker than normal and the percentages going to minor/ fringe party candidates was also lower than normal. Ron Paul came third in the nationwide popular vote with 0.47%.

In the Electoral College, the tipping point state was Michigan, which Bush won by 7.9% as opposed to his nationwide popular vote margin of 7.72%. So there was no particular advantage for either party in the Electoral College that year. Dukakis carried only 10 states while not getting blown out in the nationwide popular vote, but that is because in the 1980s in presidential elections states just didn't vary that much from the nationwide popular vote. During that electoral period, if you won the nationwide popular vote, you would win the Electoral College too, in fact usually you would get an EC blowout because states just didn't deviate that much from the nationwide popular vote. Bush won Colorado by 7.76%, and then there were another 10 states that Bush carried, but by less than his nationwide popular vote margin, so no an Electoral College reversal was not going to happen that year.

What variation between states in voting seems to have been entirely a function of how well the local economy did during the Reagan administration, so I don't think substituting another candidate for Dukakis would change that either. Cuomo would be similar to Dukakis (Ellis Island ethnic liberal governor of a northeastern state) with more charisma and who would have run a better fall campaign -it would have been almost impossible to run a worse one- and so he wins unless he really did have Mafia ties that would blow up in his face. But maybe there was Mafia stuff that kept him from running in the first place. ITTL they don't exist or are managed. The only other negative I can think of is Catholicism.

Well, this may go along with liberalism, but in 1988 Cuomo's opposition to capital punishment was very unpopular:

eadw4kgbuugixslia0ckua.png
 
FWIW (and I aclnowledge that such early polls do not necessarily tell us much), at the time Cuomo announced he would not be a candidate, polls did not show that he would do particularly well against Bush or Dole: "Despite his obviously strong appeal within the Democratic Party, Cuomo had not yet acquired a national following outside Democratic ranks. In pairings against Vice President George Bush, taken by telephone between January 14th and 18th, among 878 voters nationwide, he trailed by 50-38 percent, while against Senator Bob Dole, he ran behind by 51-37 percent. This showing contrasted with that of the much better known Gary Hart, who ran ahead of both Republicans by 16 and 15 points. Cuomo ran ahead of Bush in the East by 48-43 percent and of Dole in the same region by 45-44 percent. In the West, Cuomo also led Bush by 47-45 percent, though he trailed Dole there by a narrow 46-45 percent. However, he was well behind both Republicans in the Midwest and in the South." https://theharrispoll.com/wp-conten...D-CHOICE-FOR-1988-AMONG-DEMOCRATS-1987-02.pdf
 

Amadeus

Gone Fishin'
Well, this may go along with liberalism, but in 1988 Cuomo's opposition to capital punishment was very unpopular:

eadw4kgbuugixslia0ckua.png

The only way he could get away with this would be to hedge. For example: "I oppose the death penalty in New York, but it is an issue that every state must decide for itself. If a state chooses to implement or not to implement the death penalty, it has every right to do so." Such a position would be unusual for a Democrat, but his only other two options would be to double down in his liberalism (as Dukakis did) or flip-flop on the issue - neither of which would be a winning strategy.
 

Philip

Donor
For example: "I oppose the death penalty in New York, but it is an issue that every state must decide for itself. If a state chooses to implement or not to implement the death penalty, it has every right to do so."

Gov. Cuomo, a follow-up, if you please. If the proposed Anti-Drug Abuse Act adds the death penalty to certain federal drug cases, would you sign the bill into law? Would your justice department seek the death penalty in such cases?
 

Amadeus

Gone Fishin'
Gov. Cuomo, a follow-up, if you please. If the proposed Anti-Drug Abuse Act adds the death penalty to certain federal drug cases, would you sign the bill into law? Would your justice department seek the death penalty in such cases?

Given that the final bill didn't impose the death penalty on drug offenses, there obviously wasn't that much public support for the idea and if Cuomo comes out against it it would only hurt him in deep Southern states that are unlikely to vote for him anyway. But a staunch anti-death penalty position would kiss Texas goodbye as well as Tennessee, Arkansas, and Louisiana.
 

Chapman

Donor
@MikeTheLeftie98 Here is my rough idea of what a Cuomo win would look like. He loses almost the entire South with the exception of Louisiana and Texas thanks to Bentsen's presence on the ticket. He flips California, Colorado, and Montana as well as Missouri, Michigan, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. He does marginally better in the east, winning Maryland, Connecticut, and Vermont. But I still have him lose Ohio, New Jersey, and Delaware (albeit narrowly). Cuomo wins with 316 votes to Bush's 222. As for Congress, Cuomo's victory might result in narrow races going the other way with Florida, Montana, Washington, and Wyoming flipped to the Democratic column. At best this gives the Democrats 59 seats to the Republicans' 41.

View attachment 422905

Looks pretty reasonable to me. I have my doubts about Cuomo managing to win Texas and Louisiana (even with Bentsen on the ticket, whom I suspect would actually be of better value in other necessary areas), especially with the former being H.W.'s home state, but it's not completely unthinkable in a scenario where he runs a strong campaign.
 

Chapman

Donor
The only change I might make is that, if Cuomo is winning in Montana and performing well enough to take Texas and Louisiana, he might also take South Dakota which was won by Bush only rather narrowly IOTL. Very minor though, and I could see Bush still taking it by the skin of his teeth here.
 
Again, I see commentators overthink this. On an even swing from the Dukakis vote percentages, a Democratic presidential candidate needs a 4% national popular vote swing compared to what Dukakis got. This accounts for any Electoral College bias and the actual margin in the tipping point state, Michigan, which was not that different from the national popular vote margin.

A 4% swing is not much given that partisan ellegiances were more fluid then and the polls had several swings during the campaign. In fact Dukakis could have gotten that, if he had been able to keep John Sasso as his campaign manager.

As it happens, a 4% nationwide popular vote swing produces a Democratic electoral college majority that year, and it brings some unlikely states by 2016 standards into the Democratic column, such as Montana, South Dakota, and Missouri, though in the OTL election Dukakis actually carried West Virginia, which was the most Republican state in 2016. What it does not do is flip any state that had been part of the Confederate States of America. If you are curious, the states that flip are Illinois, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Vermont, California, Missouri, Connecticut, Montana, South Dakota, and Michigan. Bush carried Louisiana by over 10% and Texas by over 12% and did even better elsewhere in the former Confederacy.

I don't get the obsession with making Lloyd Bentsen Vice President either.
 

Chapman

Donor
Again, I see commentators overthink this. On an even swing from the Dukakis vote percentages, a Democratic presidential candidate needs a 4% national popular vote swing compared to what Dukakis got. This accounts for any Electoral College bias and the actual margin in the tipping point state, Michigan, which was not that different from the national popular vote margin.

A 4% swing is not much given that partisan ellegiances were more fluid then and the polls had several swings during the campaign. In fact Dukakis could have gotten that, if he had been able to keep John Sasso as his campaign manager.

As it happens, a 4% nationwide popular vote swing produces a Democratic electoral college majority that year, and it brings some unlikely states by 2016 standards into the Democratic column, such as Montana, South Dakota, and Missouri, though in the OTL election Dukakis actually carried West Virginia, which was the most Republican state in 2016. What it does not do is flip any state that had been part of the Confederate States of America. If you are curious, the states that flip are Illinois, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Vermont, California, Missouri, Connecticut, Montana, South Dakota, and Michigan. Bush carried Louisiana by over 10% and Texas by over 12% and did even better elsewhere in the former Confederacy.

I don't get the obsession with making Lloyd Bentsen Vice President either.

Unless i'm missing a state or two, such a scenario would give Bush 271 EVs and Cuomo 267. That's an extremely slim win for the Vice President, and not a Democratic majority. Now it's fully possible that I just don't understand your math, but seeing as Connecticut (5.11%), Montana (5.87%), South Dakota (6.34%), and Michigan (7.90%) all went GOP by more than 4% (numbers courtesy of Wikipedia), I don't see how such a swing as you defined would win those states. As I said in my earlier posts, I think any Cuomo victory is somewhat unlikely even though it's plausible simply because the math does appear to favor Bush. Personally I feel that the most likely outcome is a very narrow win for Bush, or a slim-to-moderate win for Cuomo that doesn't include victories in Texas or Louisiana. That would probably mean something like 272-280 for Cuomo, or in an extra dramatic scenario where he narrowly loses Colorado and South Dakota, 269-269. I think OP may be being a little too generous to Cuomo's performance outside of New York, and in general I think Bush's chances at winning seem to be woefully downplayed, but in a different timeline it's not impossible for him to get the kind of 316-222 outcome they're talking about.

Also, it's not really an obsession with Bentsen as much as it is the simple fact that he's a seasoned Democrat in a pivotal state. Especially in a scenario where there's a northerner at the top of the ticket, it makes sense for him to be at the bottom. I will admit tho, I think a Mario Cuomo/Henry Cisneros 88 ticket could be interesting. Maybe not a realistic ticket, but I'd read a TL where that happened successfully.
 
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By 4% swing they mean a shift of 8 points. So Bush 54, Cuomo 46 becomes 50-50. A 4% swing for one side is an 8 point move in a two party system.
 
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