Skip to content

LARRY J. SABATO: The 2012 Election Will Come Down to Seven States – WSJ.com

September 6, 2011

The 2012 Election Will Come Down to Seven States

National polls are nice, but Electoral College math is what matters.

OPINION SEPTEMBER 6, 2011

By LARRY J. SABATO

Straw polls, real polls, debates, caucuses, primaries—that’s the public side of presidential campaigns 14 months before Election Day. But behind the scenes, strategists for President Obama and his major Republican opponents are already focused like a laser on the Electoral College.

The emerging general election contest gives every sign of being highly competitive, unlike 2008. Of course, things can change: Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton were both in trouble at this point in their first terms, and George H.W. Bush still looked safe. Unexpectedly strong economic growth could make Mr. Obama’s re-election path much easier than it currently looks, as could the nomination of a damaged Republican candidate. But a few more weeks like the past couple, and Mr. Obama’s re-election trajectory will resemble Jimmy Carter’s.

Both parties are sensibly planning for a close election. For all the talk about how Hispanics or young people will vote, the private chatter is about a few vital swing states. It’s always the Electoral College math that matters most.

Voting is predictable for well over half the states, so even 14 months out it’s easy to shade in most of the map for November 2012.

Barring a Carter-like collapse, President Obama is assured of 175 electoral votes from 12 deep-blue states and the District of Columbia: California (55 electoral votes), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), Hawaii (4), Illinois (20), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (11), New Jersey (14), New York (29), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), Washington state (12) and Washington, D.C. (3). Three more states are not quite as certain, but still likely Democratic: Maine (4), Minnesota (10) and Oregon (7). Even though Minnesota is competitive enough to vote Republican under the right set of conditions, it is the state with the longest Democratic presidential streak, dating to 1976.

Four other states usually vote Democratic for president, but they’re hardly a sure thing: Michigan (16), New Mexico (5), Pennsylvania (20) and Wisconsin (10). A low Hispanic vote in 2012 could flip New Mexico, as Al Gore carried it by only 366 votes in 2000 and a dedicated effort by George W. Bush flipped it in 2004. In Michigan, economic problems might cause voters to cool on Democrats. Wisconsin, narrowly Democratic in 2000 and 2004, is a cauldron of unpredictable countertrends. And although Pennsylvania has frustrated all GOP attempts to win it over since 1988, recent polls have shown weakness for Mr. Obama there. These 51 electoral votes will be GOP targets if conditions in the fall of 2012 approximate today’s.

Meanwhile, the Republicans have their own firewall. Almost any sentient GOP nominee will carry Alabama (9), Alaska (3), Arkansas (6), Idaho (4), Kansas (6), Kentucky (8), Louisiana (8), Mississippi (6), Montana (3), Nebraska (5), North Dakota (3), Oklahoma (7), South Carolina (9), South Dakota (3), Tennessee (11), Utah (6), West Virginia (5) and Wyoming (3). These 18 states have 105 electoral votes.

The Obama forces have bravely boasted that they can turn Arizona (11), Georgia (16) and Texas (38), mainly because of growing Latino voting power. But with the economy in the tank, electoral claims on these big three will likely go the way of John McCain’s early declaration in ’08 that California was within his grasp. Count another 65 red votes here.

via Larry J. Sabato: The 2012 Election Will Come Down to Seven States – WSJ.com.

Advertisements
One Comment
  1. September 7, 2011 10:21 AM

    In 2012, The National Popular Vote bill could guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. There would no longer be ‘battleground’ states where voters and policies are more important than those of other states.

    When the bill is enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes– enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538), all the electoral votes from the enacting states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC.

    The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for president. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action.

    The bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers in 21 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in AR, CT, DE, DC, ME, MI, NV, NM, NY, NC, and OR, and both houses in CA, CO, HI, IL, NJ, MD, MA ,RI, VT, and WA. The bill has been enacted by DC, HI, IL,CA, NJ, MD, MA, VT, and WA. These 9 jurisdictions possess 132 electoral votes– 49% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

    http://www.NationalPopularVote.com

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: