2012 Presidential Election – How the Map is Looking

With just under four months until the Presidential election on November 6th, the race for the White House is starting to heat up. President Obama’s campaign for a second term received a boost last month when the Supreme Court upheld the Constitutionality of his healthcare reform bill that was the signature piece of legislation from his first two years in office. However, with Governor Romney promising to repeal that law on his first day as President, opponents of “Obamacare” may be more motivated to get out and vote to prevent this government takeover of healthcare.*

*It is not really a government takeover of healthcare…unfortunately.

While plenty can happen between now and election day to reshape the race, the likelihood is that the identity of the man being sworn in as President on January 20th, 2013 will be decided by a few key swing states. Here is my first (of probably several) breakdowns of how the Electoral College map is shaping up and which states could end up playing the crucial role that landed on Ohio in 2004 and, infamously, on Florida in 2000.

States Listed with number of Electoral College Votes afterwards – candidates need 270 to win.

Virtually Safe Romney States:

West Virginia (5); Alabama (9); Mississippi (6); Arkansas (6); Louisiana (8); Oklahoma (7); Utah (6); Wyoming (3); Idaho (4); Texas (38); Georgia (16); North Dakota (3); Kentucky (8); Nebraska (5**); Arizona (11); Alaska (3).

Although you can never be sure how an election will play out until all the votes are cast – and hopefully all of them counted too – these states are very unlikely to go to President Obama in this election. If he were to win these 16 states in November, Governor Romney would gain 138 Electoral College Votes, leaving him needing a further 132 to win the Presidency.

** Nebraska can split its ECVs using the Congressional District Method and one vote did go to President Obama in 2008. Nevertheless, that was the only time a vote had been split in either Nebraska or Maine – which is the only other state that uses this method – and the chances are that Romney will win all five Electoral College Votes from Nebraska.

Virtually Safe Obama States:

California (55); New York (29); Vermont (3); Rhode Island (4); Massachusetts (11); Delaware (3); Maryland (10); Washington (12); Minnesota (10); District of Columbia (3); Connecticut (7); Maine (4); Hawaii (4); New Mexico (5); New Jersey (14);

President Obama currently enjoys a double-digit lead in all of these states and, if he were to win all 14 of them, plus the District of Columbia, then he would stand at 174 Electoral College Votes.

Leaning Romney:

Montana (3); South Dakota (3); Kansas (6); Indiana (11); Tennessee (11); Missouri (10).

Romney has a 9 point lead in the latest polls in Montana and South Dakota; 7 in Tennessee and Missouri; and is 6 ahead in both Indiana and South Dakota. If we add these 6 states and 44 Electoral College Votes to the Republican candidate’s total, he would have 182 ECVs and would require 88 more from swing states to be elected president. Of the 20 states that are either leaning towards, or considered safe for, Romney, only Indiana voted for President Obama in 2008 – and that was the first time it had gone to a Democrat since 1964 when President Johnson garnered their (then) 13 electoral college votes.

Leaning Obama:

Pennsylvania (20); Illinois (20); Nevada (6); Oregon (7); Wisconsin (10);

With these five states, President Obama would gain another 63 Electoral College Votes, putting his total at 237 and reducing the success he would require in the battleground states. He won in all of these places in 2008 and is currently polling six points ahead of Romney in Wisconsin, Nevada and Pennsylvania; 7 in Illinois; and 8 in Oregon.

Battleground States

If all of the above states go the way the polling is suggesting they will, that leaves 9 in which neither candidate currently has a lead of over 5%, or which have historically fluctuated between electing Democrats and Republicans (like Ohio). This is the breakdown of where the election will be won and lost – and destinations in which you are most likely to encounter the campaigns of both the President and Mitt Romney in the next four months.

Colorado (9) – Current Poll – Obama +4%

Iowa (6) – Obama +1%

Michigan (16) – Obama +4%

Ohio (18) – Obama +9%

Florida (29) – Obama +4%

Virginia (13) – Romney + 5%

North Carolina (15) – Romney +5%

South Carolina (9) – Obama +3%

New Hampshire (4) – Even

So if the election were held today – and the polls were accurate in reflecting how voters cast their ballot in each states, then the President would obtain another 87 Electoral College Votes – against Romney’s 32 (generously giving him New Hampshire, which is currently tied) – making the final tally: Obama 324; Romney 214

What Romney Needs for Victory

Governor Romney’s most likely path to success appears to be winning all of the states that he is currently leading in and also taking: South Carolina (which has not voted for a Democrat since President Carter in 1976); Ohio and Florida. These three combined, plus Romney coming out on top in New Hampshire, would put him right on the mark of 270 Electoral College Votes, leaving him no margin for error. Unless he can overturn the deficits in Wisconsin – a state in which the Republicans won the recall of Governor Walker this year – or Michigan, Governor Romney’s path to the Presidency appears to be very narrow.

What President Obama needs for Victory

If polling data accurately reflects voter action, then the current position favours a second term for President Obama. However, two consecutive months of disappointing job growth numbers has put the economy at the forefront of the campaign once again and no President since FDR has won re-election when the national unemployment figure has been above 7.2% – the current figure is 8.2%. The situation is not completely in the President’s hands: he is unable to pass legislation through Congress because of an obstructive, GOP led House of Representatives; and the problems in the Eurozone could hinder the recovery on this side of the Atlantic.

Who is going to win?

Right now the biggest issue for both candidates might be motivating people to get out and vote. President Obama ran a positive campaign in 2008 that fired up young people – a group notoriously apathetic about politics – and encouraged them to get to the polling booth. During his first term, many have become disenchanted with the reality of Obama’s Presidency and its inability to deliver the promises that had been made. While the economy and congressional obstructionism has been a large part of the problem for this administration, it remains to be seen if people will still have the audacity to hope that President Obama will be able to do more in his second term.

On the other side, the Republicans tried as hard as they could to find anyone other than Mitt Romney to be their candidate: Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain and Rick Santorum all were front-runners at one point – and that list does not include others who were encouraged to run for the GOP ticket – notably Donald Trump, Sarah Palin and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. The main reason people will turn out to vote for Mitt Romney in November is to try to remove President Obama from office, rather than a desire to see the former Governor of Massachusetts win the White House. In 2004, John Kerry had a similar standing in his race with former President Bush – that time, “not being the other guy” was not enough to unseat the incumbent, whether it will this year will be discovered on November 6th.

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