In order to win 269 electorial votes the GOP needs to win 3 key states: Florida, Ohio, and Virginia. I have long talked about issues critical to each state. The GOP cannot win without support from union folks, state employees, federal employees, and Hispanics. While this is needed, more is also needed to win.
First, the GOP can win support of unions without spending any money or promising anything. Unions do not like Obamacare or Obama. Union leaders like Obama, but not union members. To win union votes the GOP nominee needs to simple ignore the issue and say that these are state issues. The possition Romney first took -- citing these as state issues -- is the winning posstion. His later possition to support anti-union legislation was and is stupid. This possition is critical towards winning Ohio, and costs nothing.
Second, the same is true for state workers. The GOP nominee needs to stop calling teachers overpaid. He needs to say that state employees are a state issue. Simple, and easy. This solution costs nothing, but is critical towards winning Ohio.
For federal employees, the GOP nominee can win their vote easily. The simple solution is to pledge not to cut their pay or benefits, and when it comes to inflationary adjustments to provide those adjustments equal those contained in the legislation signed by President George H.W. Bush. This will technically not cost any money, since those projected inflationary adjustments are already included in the budget. Now, some may say that if we don't provide these inflationary adjustments that we could save $2 billion. That is true, but with a $1.3 trillion dollar deficit each year; I much more trust a Republican to close the 1.3 trillion dollar gap (even if his hands are tied behind his back on saving $2 billion), than to ensure an Obama victory. Savings can be achieved by cutting the number of federal employees by 10%. This solution adds no costs to the deficit and does notthing to harm the budget; however, it does win Virginia for the GOP. There are 295,000 federal civilian employees in Virginia; representing 10% of the vote directly. If you add in their husbands/wives the number rises. It is completely impossible for the GOP to win Virginia without winning civilian federal workers. For all intensive purposes, about 18% of Virginia voters rely on income from working directly for the government. The majority of those for Virginia work for DOD in Northern Virginia and Norfolk/Virginia Beach. When you add to this the number of local Virginia businesses that rely on the income they get from federal workers -- and thus vote that way -- you see why elected GOP representitives in Northern Virginia vote for the pay increases because there is broad-based support on them for businesses in Northern Virginia. So, federal pay is a huge issue in terms of winning Virginia.
As to Hispanics, Gingrich is on-target. Provide a path to citizenship for folks hear 25 years with residence and a legal citizen to vouch for them; secure the boarder. Details are not critical, but the GOP needs to take a number of actions to win these voters. If we want to win Fl, we need to suck it up and do this. Again, there is no cost to this. Democrats will block any actual new laws on the subject that conservatives would like. Conservatives in the Senate would block any liberal ideas. The GOP nominee needs to run center on these issues in terms of the words he says.
Those 4 actions --- which I know are not popular with some conservatives --- are needed to win. We need to focus on what it actually takes to win an election. Yes, we need to keep the overall numbers as high as we can. However, it is VERY possible for the GOP nominee -- like with Gore -- to win the popular vote, but lose the election. We could easily get 51, 52, or even 53% of the vote, and lose. That may sound extreme, but that is how the numbers add up.
The expectation is that Obama will have ground resources and money to get out the vote like he did in 2008. A strong GOP tide may cause the races in the more liberal states to be closer than otherwise, and may cause big wins in red states. However, Obama could still hold his blue states; and could then win by taking just Virginia (that he won by 7% in 2008), or Ohio or Florida.
In 2000, the GOP won becuase of a single issue -- coal. That brought WV from Democrat to the GOP. Clean coal technology. Had Gore supported that, he would have won. In 2004, Kerry lost Ohio because of the civil union/gay marriage issue. One issue made the difference.
In 2012, the GOP cannot afford to lose the election; and must focus on what it takes to win state-by-state. 2000, 2004, and 2008 data all show a number of solid blue and solid red states. Then a number of light blue or light red states. Then a small number of swing states. If the GOP loses Ohio, FL, or VA, there is no place we can make it up. It is game over.