The 2012 Presidential race will begin to unfold as soon as the 2010 mid-terms are concluded. I've decided to jump the gun a little and write my first 2012 diary. It's going to be a long time before we know who Obama's opponent will be. But one thing we do know: the 2012 race will probably be decided by the same swing states that decided each of the past three Presidential elections.
So if Obama were to lose, what would it look like? Let's begin by looking at the 2008 electoral map of Obama's 365 to 173 victory over McCain.
which will shift some electoral votes, principally to the sunbelt and Republican-friendly territory. Texas, for example, may gain 4 more votes. If Obama carries exactly the same states and districts that he did in 2008, he's likely to win 6 fewer votes overall, for a 359 to 179 victory.
That means that the Republicans have to find 91 more electoral votes among the blue areas in the map above. So how would they manage to accomplish this?
First of all, if the Republicans are going to win, it means that they're going to carry all the serious red-state territory that Obama narrowly won in 2008. That means Indiana, North Carolina, Virginia and Nebraska's 2nd district, which Obama carried by 1.0%, 0.3%, 6.3%, and 1.2% respectively.
That boots the GOP tally by 40 to 219. They need 51 more.
They can get half of that by winning Florida, which Obama carried by 2.8%. If the Republicans carry Florida, then it gets easy. They just need to carry one more large swing state and one smaller one. For instance, adding Ohio and New Mexico would give them exactly 270.
Without Florida, it gets harder for the GOP, but not impossible. They following combinations would do it: The states they won in 2008, plus IN, NC, VA, NE-2 and,
"Revenge of the rust belt scenario:" The GOP carries Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan, winning 273 to 265.
"Looks like 2000 scenario:" The GOP carries Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada out west, while also carrying two of Obama's rust belt states (OH, PA and MI).
Of course the Republicans need to do all this without losing any states they won in 2008. I'm inclined to think that Obama would have carried Arizona had not favorite-son John McCain been the GOP nominee. Hopefully the Republicans will just make it easy for Obama by nominating Sarah Palin. But that's a topic for another day.