This is the map of 2000. A losing coalition of most of the east coast, some west coast, and some midwestern states.
This is a map of 2004. A gain of Iowa in the Midwest and New Mexico in the west. It seems to me with Democratic governors in Iowa and New Mexico that the blue states are a given irregardless of the nominee.
We then have these “other” states in which the Democrats, or a particular Democrats may do better in, but not good enough to carry it in the general. States in this category would include Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska etc. Interestingly, the Democratic delegate process over values these states compared to their base states. A delegate in say Wyoming is weighted 2, 3, 5 times as that of a delegate in California. It seems to me that one obligation of super delegates is to serve as a buffer, so a candidate who is strong in states that the Democrats will not win in November is not given the nomination.
In all fairness Hillary has a slight lead, but they both bring strength to the swing states going into the general. Even if we take off the states the Dems won in 2000 and 2004, we still have 49 and 48 electoral votes.
Its less of a case of who can win the swing states than what the future Democratic base will look like. If Obama get the nod Pennsylvania, Ohio, Arkansas are certain to vote Republican. Whereas if Hillary gets the nod, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri will likely go in the Republican column.
What this all comes down to is, will Democrats follow Obama down the DLC path of cultural triangulation and Neo Liberalism, or go back to an older economic populist Democratic Party that Hillary now appears to be representing.