Mitt’s electoral college path

I just finished grading a bunch of papers predicting the results of the presidential election and a significant portion of the assignment was to analyze the electoral college.  So I especially enjoyed seeing Chris Cilliza’s recent piece on Romney’s narrow path to the electoral college:

A detailed analysis of Romney’s various paths to the 270 electoral votes he would need to claim the presidency suggests he has a ceiling of somewhere right around 290 electoral votes.

While Romney’s team would absolutely take a 290-electoral-vote victory, that means he has only 20 electoral votes to play with — a paper-thin margin for error.

Romney’s relatively low electoral-vote ceiling isn’t unique to him. No Republican presidential nominee has received more than 300 electoral votes in more than two decades. (Vice President George H.W. Bush won 426 electoral votes in his 1988 victory over Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis.)

By contrast, Bill Clinton in 1992 (370 electoral votes) and 1996 (379) as well as Obama in 2008 (365) soared well beyond the 300-electoral-vote marker.

Much of that is attributable to the fact that Democrats have near-certain wins in population (and, therefore, electoral-vote) behemoths such as California (55 electoral voters), New York (29) and Illinois (20).

The only major electoral-vote treasure trove that is reliably Republican at the moment is Texas, with its 38 electoral votes. So while George W. Bush won 30 states in 2000 and 31 states in 2004, he never came close to cresting the 300-electoral-vote mark in either race.

Today, the Post has an article also taking a look at Romney’s “narrow path.”  I found the following most interesting (and I do like that Republicans as well as Democrats see NC as playing an important role):

The Romney campaign’s thinking about the electoral map, detailed in interviews this week with top campaign officials and advisers at Boston headquarters, as well as several Republican strategists, is akin to the “3-2-1” strategy authored recently by Bush strategist Karl Rove. Under that strategy, Romney would need to win three traditionally Republican states (Indiana, North Carolina and Virgina), plus two perennial swing states (Ohio and Florida), then one more state from half a dozen tossups.

Among the tossups is a trio of Western states that Obama carried four years ago: Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. At this early stage, Nevada appears the most competitive because the state’s economy has been decimated by the housing crisis. And Romney’s team is counting on high turnout by Mormon voters there.

But in all the Western battlegrounds (as well as in Florida), Romney’s weak numbers with Hispanic voters pose a serious obstacle. Campaign officials said they will begin to address the problem by focusing on economic issues in their messaging to the Latino community, believing that will overcome damage done during the primaries by Romney’s hard-line stance on immigration.

There’s also this handy graphic:

Twelve states the Romney campaign is eyeing

Now, the electoral college is stupid because it is truly ridiculous that people in Ohio and Florida will see literally thousands of ads and have candidates desperate to get their vote whereas Americans living in Texas and New York will be totally ignored.  But as long as it’s stupid, I’m glad it looks like the stupidity will extend to NC this year.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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