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Obliterating The “Obama Will Be Re-Elected Easily” Myth

With the death of Osama bin Laden, the media narrative is now that Obama’s re-election is assured in 2012.  This was even being said before bin Laden’s demise.  Looking at the numbers and trends, however, makes it clear that this is wishful thinking on the liberal media’s part.

Let’s start by breaking down what states are pretty firmly in each camp:

States Obama should win: CA (55), CT (7), DE (3), DC (3), HI (4), IL (20), MD (10), MA (11), NY (29), OR (7), RI (4), VT (3), WA (12).  Total:  168 electoral votes.

States Obama should lose: AL (9), AK (3), AZ (11), AR (6), GA (16), ID (4),  KS (6), KY (8), LA (8), MS (6), MT (3), NE (5)*, ND (3), OK (7), SC (9), SD (3), TN (11), TX (38), UT (6), WY (3).  Total: 165 electoral votes.

(*) – Nebraska splits its electoral votes by Congressional district.  Obama won district 2 by a very small margin in 2008, but I suspect he will not be so fortunate in 2012.  This is the only electoral vote that Obama got in 2008 that I’m granting to his opponent this time.

Of course, nobody is suggesting that either side should simply cede these states to their opponents, but it is logical to expect that these states will turn out this way.  The states that aren’t likely to be up for grabs are pretty close when you add it all up.  It helps that the red states gained 7 votes from the latest census (Texas gaining 4, Arizona, Utah, South Carolina and Georgia each gaining one, while Louisiana lost one), and the blue states lost 3 (two lost by New York, one each lost by Massachusetts and Illinois, while Washington gained one).

So this leaves 18 states “in play”:  CO (9), FL (29), IN (11), IA (6), ME (4), MI (16), MN (10), MO (10), NV (6), NH (4), NJ (14), NM (5), NC (15), OH (18), PA (20), VA (13), WV (5), and WI (10), a total of 195 electoral votes.  The Republican candidate would need 105 of these votes to claim victory, while Obama would need 102.  In 2008, McCain only won two of these states:  Missouri and West Virginia.  I suspect the next Republican nominee will do much better.

Why?  Well, let’s look at what’s been going on in these states lately…

2010 House, Senate And Governor Elections

Here’s a look at what happened in the 18 swing states in the major races in 2010…

State

House Swing

2008 Balance

2010 Balance

Senate

Governor

Colorado

+2 R

5-2 D

4-3 R

D Hold

D Hold

Florida

+4 R

15-10 R

19-6 R

R Hold

R Hold

Indiana

+2 R

5-4 D

6-3 R

R Gain

None

Iowa

No change

3-2 D

3-2 D

R Hold

R Gain

Maine

No change

2-0 D

2-0 D

None

R Gain

Michigan

+1 R

8-7 R

9-6 R

None

R Gain

Minnesota

+1 R

5-3 D

4-4

None

D Gain

Missouri

+1 R

5-4 R

6-3 R

R Hold

None

Nevada

+1 R

2-1 D

2-1 R

D Hold

R Hold

New Hampshire

+2 R

2-0 D

2-0 R

R Hold

D Hold

New Jersey

+1 R

8-5 D

7-6 D

None

R Gain (a)

New Mexico

+1 R

3-0 D

2-1 D

None

R Gain

North Carolina

+1 R

8-5 D

7-6 D

R Hold

None

Ohio

+5 R

10-8 D

13-5 R

R Hold

R Gain

Pennsylvania

+5 R

12-7 D

12-7 R

R Gain

R Gain

Virginia

+3 R

6-5 D

8-3 R

None

R Gain (a)

West Virginia

+1 R

2-1 D

2-1 R

D Hold

None (b)

Wisconsin

+2 R

5-3 D

5-3 R

R Gain

R Gain

(a)   – Election held in 2009

(b)  – Seat now vacant, as Governor Manchin won U.S. Senate race

No sir, that isn’t a pretty picture for Democrats.  All but 2 House delegations shifted right.  The Democrats held a majority in 15 of these House delegations coming into 2010, and they now hold 5, with Minnesota being even.  They lost 3 Senate seats in these states, while only holding 3 of the ones they were defending, and lost 9 governorships while only gaining one.  The only mild bright spots were Colorado, where the Democrats mostly won by default due to the Republicans messing up the Governor’s race, and Minnesota, which politically speaking, has always sort of been The Land That Logic Forgot.  (Being from Minnesota, I know this full well.)  And even in Minnesota, not all was bright and cheery, as we shall soon see.

So the major races didn’t look so good for the Democrats in 2010.  Maybe the good signs can be found in the state legislature races…

2010 State House and Senate Races

2008

2010

Swing (a)

% Swing

Colorado

House

37-27-1 D

33-32 R

+6 of 65

9.23%

Senate

21-14 D

20-15 D

+1 of 19

5.26%

Florida

House

76-44 R

81-39 R

+5 of 120

4.17%

Senate

26-13-1 R

28-12 R

+2 of 23

8.70%

Indiana

House

52-48 D

60-40 R

+12 of 100

12.00%

Senate

33-17 R

36-14 R

+3 of 25

12.00%

Iowa

House

56-44 D

58-42 R

+14 of 100

14.00%

Senate

32-18 D

27-23 D

+5 of 25

20.00%

Maine

House

94-55-2 D

78-72-1 R

+23 of 151

15.23%

Senate

20-15 D

20-14-1 R

+5 of 35

14.29%

Michigan

House

65-42-3 D

63-47 R

+21 of 110

19.09%

Senate

22-16 R

26-12 R

+4 of 38

10.53%

Minnesota

House

87-47 D

72-62 R

+25 of 134

18.66%

Senate

46-21 D

37-30 R

+16 of 67

23.88%

Missouri

House

88-74-1 R

105-58 R

+17 of 163

10.43%

Senate

23-11 R

27-7 R

+4 of 17

23.53%

Nevada

Assembly

28-14 D (d)

26-16 D

+2 of 42

4.76%

Senate

12-7-2 D

11-10 D

+1 of 11

9.09%

New Hampshire

House

216-174-10 D

298-102 R

+124 of 400

31.00%

Senate

14-10 D

19-5 R

+9 of 24

37.50%

New Jersey

Assembly

48-32 D

47-33 D

+1 of 80

1.25%

Senate

No election since 2008

New Mexico

House

45-25 D

37-33 D

+6 of 70

8.57%

Senate

No election since 2008

North Carolina

House

105-42-3 D

99-50-1 D

+8 of 150

5.33%

Senate

30-20 D

31-19 R

+11 of 50

22.00%

Ohio

House

53-46 D

59-40 R

+13 of 99

13.13%

Senate

21-12 R

23-10 R

+2 of 17

11.76%

Pennsylvania

House

104-98-1 D

112-91 R

+14 of 203

6.90%

Senate

30-20 R

30-20 R

+0 of 25

0.00%

Virginia

House

55-45

61-39 R

+6 of 100

6.00%

Senate

No election since 2008

West Virginia

House

71-29

65-35 D

+6 of 100

6.00%

Senate

26-8 D

27-7 D

-1 of 34

-2.94%

Wisconsin

Assembly

50-45-4 D

60-38-1 R

+15 of 99

15.15%

Senate

18-15 D

19-14 R

+4 of 17

23.53%

(a)   – Not all Senate seats are up for election each cycle in many states.  Swing indicates the change among number of seats up for election.

If there is any evidence of why Democrats should be optimistic heading into 2012, I’m not seeing it there, either.  This table pretty well illustrates just how massive a drubbing the 2010 election was.  The Democrats may have won the Governor’s race in Minnesota, but they got completely slaughtered in the state legislative races there.  New Hampshire was an even more massive shift to the right.  Ohio and Indiana had brief dalliances with the Democrats before deciding that they had had enough and went back to the right.  And Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – usually states won by the Democrats in national elections — all swept the Democrats out of office entirely.  Of the 36 governing bodies in these 18 states, Democrats currently control 9 of them, and only control both houses in 2 of them.  Oddly enough, one of those is in a state McCain won (West Virginia).

Well, there has to be some reason for Democrat optimism, doesn’t there?

Obama’s Approval Ratings

Obama’s approval rating must be the reason why Democrats feel good about the 2012 election, right?  Let’s take a look at a recent electoral map based on his approval rating.

Nope, try again.  Of the 18 swing states, Obama’s approval is only above water in two of them:  Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Predictions and Other X-Factors

So if the election were held today, which way would these states go?  Recall from above that Republicans need 105 electoral votes from the swing states.

Well, to start with, I do not see Obama winning any states in 2012 that he didn’t win in 2008.  So I’ll put Missouri and West Virginia on the red side.  West Virginia has a tendency to be Democratic at the state-level, but Republican at the national level, and Missouri seems to be getting more strongly red.  So that’s 15 votes.

Florida doesn’t look the least bit blue right now.  Indiana and Ohio are states that have usually been red, but temporarily shifted toward the left both statewide and nationally before shifting right back in 2010.  Virginia has gone hard right since 2008 as well.  And Obama only won North Carolina by 0.5% in 2008, and that has usually been more of a red state, despite its statewide legislative makeup.  That’s 86 more, for a total of 101.

This would mean that Obama would have to win every other swing state to get re-elected.  All of them.  Many of those states, such as New Hampshire, Maine and some of the Midwestern states aren’t looking great for him right now.  And every state among the swing states has shifted right to some degree.  Now, some of my projections above could prove to be slightly optimistic, but there is another X-factor.  The X-factor, of course, is the nominee.

Out of all of the leading Republican contenders right now, Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney are the only ones from traditionally blue states who have a realistic chance of being nominated.  Romney might very well take his home state of Massachusetts and possibly some of the Northeast, which would cripple Obama’s chances.  Pawlenty would almost certainly take Minnesota (we’re pretty loyal to our own – we voted for Mondale in 1984 when no one else would) and could bring Iowa and Wisconsin with him.  Personally, I worry that Romney could lose us more swing states than he would gain for us because of his very moderate nature, but I don’t think Pawlenty will have that problem.

That isn’t intended to be an endorsement of Pawlenty, per se (I’m actually more of a Herman Cain guy), but I do think it is worth noting that having Pawlenty as the nominee swings one state and possibly one whole area of the country that Obama simply cannot afford to lose.  Of course, any good conservative nominee with a good message should be able to win, and I’ll happily vote for any of them.

Conclusion

Everything here has to be taken with the notion that 18 months is practically forever in politics, and things could change drastically.  I’m not attempting to say that a Republican should cruise to election over Obama in 2012, either.  The point here is that if anyone can honestly look at the above and say that Obama is guaranteed reelection in 2012, I’d really love to try whatever drugs they are on.

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