Monday, November 5, 2012

Swing States: Bitterly Clinging to Their 1-2% Spread

My current electoral map projection has President Obama leading with 277 electoral votes, while Governor Romney will get 261. The swing states of Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Colorado I have going to Romney, while Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Nevada I have going for Obama.

I also believe there is a very real chance that Romney will win the popular vote but lose the Electoral College. Not because he is an amazing campaigner or anything, but because McCain seriously underperformed in many states. Not just in swing states, but in traditionally Republican states as well. It also helps that Hurricane Sandy is predicted to lower voter turnout by 340,000 from mostly Democratic, northeastern voters.

To delve a bit more into my projection:

Florida: Florida is a swing state because of the urban areas it has. Outside of there, it is a very Republican state. The incumbent Governor, Rick Scott, is arguably the most conservative governor in the country. Their junior Senator, Marco Rubio, also rode a Tea Party wave to the United States Senate. It is a much more Republican state than people give it credit for, and Romney should have a solid showing in the state. In fact, a Florida Times poll shows Romney up by 5.

North Carolina: North Carolina is one of those traditionally Republican states, like Indiana, that is likely to "come home" and vote for the Republican candidate this time around. Unlike Indiana, there are some demographic changes that might make North Carolina more of a competitive state in Presidential years, but that'll happen slowly.

Virginia: Virginia is also experiencing demographic changes, but unlike North Carolina, they're happening at a much more rapid pace. Due to Republican enthusiasm, I think Romney will win Virginia. But Republican Presidential candidates can no longer take Virginia for granted and count on it. They'll have to campaign here and campaign hard to win it, even by a few points.

New Hampshire: A lot of these swing states haven't voted for a Democratic Presidential candidate in over two decades. But that's a different case with New Hampshire. It voted for George W. Bush in 2000, and that was after he lost the Republican primary contest in the state to Senator John McCain. The polls in New Hampshire have fluctuated between Obama and Romney for a while now, and I think this is Romney's best small swing state pickup. I also think he has an outside shot at getting a Congressional district from Maine.

Colorado: This is an extremely close call, because many polls are showing this race with a decimal point separating the candidates rather than whole percentages. This is honestly a tossup, but my coin flip goes to Romney.

For the Obama swing states:

Nevada: Nevada experienced a very close re-election race two years ago, with Senator Harry Reid barely beating out Republican challenger Sharron Angle. Reid isn't well-liked, but because of this state, the Obama campaign knows every single Democrat in the state. The Obama organization machine can turn them out, and that's why I'm putting Nevada in the President's column.

Wisconsin/Iowa: Despite having elected several Republicans in the recent 2010 elections, President Obama has stubbornly led in the polls in both of these states. Wisconsin's Republican Party has a great groundgame due to the Scott Walker re-call election, and they might be getting extra attention because Republican National Committee Chairmen Reince Preibus is from Wisconsin. But neither have voted for a Republican Presidential candidate  (non-incumbent) since 1980. So the edge goes to President Obama.

On another note, over the weekend I did say Iowa would go for Romney. But with the Des Moines Register pegging Obama's lead at 5, I think it is safe to say Iowa will break for Obama.

Ohio: The President has stubbornly led in the polls most of the time. It'll be close, and it won't be safe, but I think he is poised to win it right now.

Wannabes: Pennsylvania and Michigan have been punted around as swing states during this election cycle, and while they've elected plenty of Republicans to state-wide and local offices, they're reliable Democratic states for Presidential elections.

The one thing I don't think will happen is the concept of a "firewall". That being that the candidate that loses Ohio will pick up enough of the swing states to still win. I think Mitt Romney has had to expand too many resources in North Carolina, Florida, and Virginia and he can't reliably count on a combination of Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Nevada breaking for him to make up for that loss. Similarly, I think President Obama can easily count on Iowa and Wisconsin, but can't be certain about Nevada, Colorado, and New Hampshire. The candidate who wins Ohio will win the election.

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