Advancing a Free Society

Team Obama's Creative Math

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Obama White House may be on a communications defensive of late, but the President’s re-elect campaign continues to talk a good game. Witness this article inPolitico, in which Mr. Obama’s advisors boldly talk about expanding the Democrats electoral reach from the 2008 election.

Such conversation is ambitious, given the President’s soft poll numbers. But it’s also necessary given some quiet terrain changes.

Here’s why:

  1. Take the results from 2008, adjust for the new Census numbers and then apply to the 2012 Electoral College (here’s a nifty interactive map, if you want to play along). Obama starts with 359 electoral votes (6 less than his 2008 total). Now, take away Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia (a combined 39 electoral votes).  Team Obama is conceding the Hoosier State but insists it’s playing to win in the latter two, which will be difficult given the unusual surge of 2008, the current weak economy, and (we presume, for now) no last –minute crisis, ala the 2008 financial meltdown, that breaks the incumbent’s way.  Theoretically, Obama is down to 320 EVs.
  2. If that sounds safe – a 50-vote cushion -- it ain't. We’re talking presidential politics, so Florida and Ohio (scene of 13 presidential visits already) are in play. Those two states account for 47 electoral votes. Subtract them from the Democratic column and it’s now a 273-265 race.  One more state going blue to red – Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico and New Hampshire, not to mention the larger Colorado – would bring down the curtain on the Obama Administration.
  3. Thus the ambitious campaign talk about spreading “hope” to Georgia and Arizona. Realistically, however, the President has little wriggle room -- a combination of running the table in 2008, then running out of gas as per living up to the hype. According to University of Virginia political scientist and “Crystal Ball” prognosticator Larry Sabato, Obama can count on 196 electoral votes, with another 51 leaning his way. That leaves him 23 shy of 270. The difference-makers? Check out Sabato’s map: 9 states are in the tossup column.

One last thing: the Republican National Committee’s response to the concept of the Obama operation expanding its 2008 base.  Not a promising outlook for the President, judging by the midterm results.