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Thread: Handicapping the 2012 race for the White House

  1. #1
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    Default Handicapping the 2012 race for the White House

    I recently heard a piece on the radio addressing President Obama's re-election prospects and whether he'll capture key swing states that he won in 2008. Florida and Ohio were the two on which the program focused--the conventional wisdom as I remembered it was that a Democrat couldn't win without at least one and perhaps both of those states.

    A bit of research reminded me that the 2008 contest wasn't as close as I'd remembered (I was probably thinking of 2004 and the swing of 60k or so votes that would have spared us a second dose of George W. Bush). In fact, Obama's margin over John McCain was a relatively secure 192 electoral votes (365-173). The GOP nominee will need to capture 97 of these EVs to claim the prize.

    In short, Obama could give up both FL and OH and still cruise to a second term. Of course, those won't be the only two states in play. Here's the list of states that Obama won in 2008 and might arguably lose this time around (you won't see MA or HI on this list, for instance), ranked by margin of victory starting with the thinnest. I've included electoral votes for each state and a cumulative total to provide an idea of how much the Bush economy and general GOP intransigence might hurt the President without sinking his re-election.

    NC [50% Obama-50% McCain] (15 electoral votes)
    IN [50%-49%] (11 EVs, cumulative 26 EVs)
    FL [51%-48%] (29 EVs, cumulative 55)
    OH [51%-47%] (18 EVs, cumulative 73)
    VA [53%-46%] (13 EVs, cumulative 86)
    NH [54%-45%] (3 EVs, cumulative 89)
    CO [54%-45%] (9 EVs, cumulative 98)
    MN [54%-44%] (10 EVs, cumulative 108)

    A cursory examination of this list would suggest that if Obama were to lose the 98 EVs represented by NC through CO, he'd come up short. But if I'm not mistaken, CO assigns its electoral votes proportionally, meaning that an Obama loss of less than 77%-23% would keep Romney's total below the magic 270 number, and therefore require he capture MN as well.

    Several additional considerations:
    - It's of course possible that states with a larger 2008 margin for Obama than 10% might go to Romney in 2012
    - Might some of the narrow McCain wins (MO at 50-50, 10 EVs; MT at 50-47, 3 EVs) swing Obama's way?

    So, my question: do people think that Obama can hold onto the Presidency, or will it change hands?

    Sources:
    - http://www.npr.org
    - http://en.wikipedia.org

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    Usually in a close presidential election - defined as 2000 and 2004, the winner needed to win 2 out of these 3 states (FL, OH, and PA). 2008 was a relative landslide. 2012 is widely expected to be a close election.

    Couple of things, you need to correct in your analysis are:

    1. Only ME and NE assign their seats by congressional districts and not winner take all. In 2012, it won't matter because NE is 100% Republican and ME is 100% Democratic.

    2. Also all things being equal, Republicans gained 6 electoral votes at the expense of Democrats because of 2010 census. The big winner is Texas, adding 4 electoral votes. Florida gained 2 while New York and Ohio each lost 2. Gaining one electoral vote each are Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington. Losing one electoral vote each are Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. These things matter because in 2000, Gore would have been President in 2000 if he had won NH's 4 votes. But by 2004, the Republican states had gained enough electoral votes to enable Bush to lose NH, which he did, and still remain President.

    For doing scenario analysis, the best website is - http://www.archives.gov/federal-regi...alculator.html

    My opinion:

    a. Overall about 200 votes each are already in each party's kitty.

    b. Romney will beat Obama by about 300 to 238 votes, i.e. the swing states will swing 70-30 in Republican's favor.

    c. Also the only way Obama can win in 2012 is by running an extremely negative campaign - Bain, Mormon, etc. and not "Hope" and "Yes We Can." That will only result in an ineffective second term. A far better alternative is to step aside for Hillary Clinton in 2012 acknowledging that a fresh beginning is better than an ineffective second term.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Sawrikar View Post
    Usually in a close presidential election - defined as 2000 and 2004, the winner needed to win 2 out of these 3 states (FL, OH, and PA). 2008 was a relative landslide. 2012 is widely expected to be a close election.

    Couple of things, you need to correct in your analysis are:

    1. Only ME and NE assign their seats by congressional districts and not winner take all. In 2012, it won't matter because NE is 100% Republican and ME is 100% Democratic.
    Thanks for the correction, Nick. I hadn't realized that CO was only a proposal (and one that failed, by 65% to 35%). The fact that ME and NE have always gone 100% to one party since they adopted their "allocation system" hid that fact from me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Sawrikar View Post
    2. Also all things being equal, Republicans gained 6 electoral votes at the expense of Democrats because of 2010 census. The big winner is Texas, adding 4 electoral votes. Florida gained 2 while New York and Ohio each lost 2. Gaining one electoral vote each are Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington. Losing one electoral vote each are Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. These things matter because in 2000, Gore would have been President in 2000 if he had won NH's 4 votes. But by 2004, the Republican states had gained enough electoral votes to enable Bush to lose NH, which he did, and still remain President.
    Good catch. I think that means that the following states would all need to swing the GOP's way (without any GOP states shifting to Obama), dropping MN from my earlier list:

    NC [50% Obama-50% McCain] (15 electoral votes)
    IN [50%-49%] (11 EVs, cumulative 26 EVs)
    FL [51%-48%] (29 EVs, cumulative 55)
    OH [51%-47%] (18 EVs, cumulative 73)
    VA [53%-46%] (13 EVs, cumulative 86)
    NH [54%-45%] (3 EVs, cumulative 89)
    CO [54%-45%] (9 EVs, cumulative 98)

    That would give Romney 277 by my math.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Sawrikar View Post
    a. Overall about 200 votes each are already in each party's kitty.

    b. Romney will beat Obama by about 300 to 238 votes, i.e. the swing states will swing 70-30 in Republican's favor.
    Which additional 23 electoral votes do you think go Romney's way above and beyond the list above?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Sawrikar View Post
    c. Also the only way Obama can win in 2012 is by running an extremely negative campaign - Bain, Mormon, etc. and not "Hope" and "Yes We Can."
    Should Obama go that route, he'd only be returning Romney's fire. Here's one of numerous examples:
    - Falsely attributing a John McCain quote to Obama

    As for Bain, Obama hardly has to go negative, he only has to go factual. There's nothing wrong with Bain, just with Romney's use of his time there to support fictitious job creation. And Romney's own remarks about his effective tax rate (laughably low due to the farce that is the application of the capital gains rate to his income) and his "small" speaking fees of $350k+ will do much of the President's work for him.

    I'd be willing to bet a large sum of money that Obama steers well clear of anything anti-Mormon--that's so completely not his style.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Sawrikar View Post
    That will only result in an ineffective second term. A far better alternative is to step aside for Hillary Clinton in 2012 acknowledging that a fresh beginning is better than an ineffective second term.
    First, no way this happens (nor do you think it will, I'm guessing). And "far better?" What states do you think Hillary wins that Obama wouldn't?

    Anyway, thanks for responding, I look forward to hearing more thoughts from you and others.

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    PA's 20 electoral votes and NV's 6 electoral votes take Mitt Romney closer to 300 mark. CO and NH are the question marks but will not matter.

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    It won't be too long before it's time to fire up the electoral vote tracker for Obama vs. Romney (Santorum's performance yesterday notwithstanding). Here's the Obama vs. McCain version from 2008--my first stab at an electoral vote projection was in April of that year.

    FWIW, here's how I started that thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach
    A huge political pet peeve of mine: national polls showing Presidential Candidate X against Presidential Candidate Y. Obama 46, McCain 44, that sort of thing.

    Those polls are meaningless in the general election. Rather, if you want to report something meaningful (although even this is debatable given the recent validity of polls), it makes more sense to project electoral votes using state by state polls. Fortunately, www.electoral-vote.com does exactly that.
    Note that electoral-vote.com hasn't started looking at 2012 yet, and that others (Rasmussen and 538 come to mind) do the same sort of tracking.

    The National Popular Vote movement threatens to make this sort of state-by-state tracking unnecessary--here's an article on NPV from salon.com.

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    Default New poll shows Obama beating Romney in Virginia

    Quote Originally Posted by Boston Globe
    A new poll has President Obama, a Democrat, pulling ahead of Republican candidate Mitt Romney in Virginia, a crucial swing state.

    The Quinnipiac University poll released today finds Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, would get 43 percent of the vote compared to 47 percent for Obama. In three previous Quinnipiac polls in Virginia, in September, October, and December, Romney edged out Obama in a head-to-head match-up. The poll shows women and independents are now backing the president over Romney.

    Obama would beat any of Romney’s Republican opponents – former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, or Texas Representative Ron Paul – by even larger margins.
    http://bostonglobe.com/news/politics...t6M/story.html

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