Electoral Math for the 2012 Presidential Race

Here’s about half of what you need to know to understand the manoeuvrings in the upcoming Presidential election (most of the other half is where the money is coming from, and unless the courts do something unexpected, that’s going to be kept secret from you):

It takes 270 electoral votes to get elected. (The system overweights small states, since every state gets at least three electoral votes regardless of population as does DC.) For the large majority of the country, the election is already nearly over. Most states are either safe for one candidate or the other, or leaning hard enough in one direction that, assuming no horrible surprises or scandals and assuming a competent ground game, we can predict the result.

Add it up and President Obama has 185 in the bag and 32 leaners. He needs 53 more to win.

Mitt Romney has 158 electoral votes in the bag, and 48 leaners. He needs 64 more to win.

Thus, unless the money available to the Romney campaign is so great that they can peel off some Obama leaners, the real fight will be over the 115 electoral votes in the so-called swing states. That’s where the biggest expenditures — the giant ad barrages and more — will be. Those are the places where the candidates will go most often, and towards which they will craft their messages. And those are the places where, if you happen to live there, your vote will count the most.

And, naturally, Florida leads the list (numbers are electoral votes):

Florida 29
Pennsylvania 20
Ohio 18
Virginia 13
Wisconsin 10
Colorado 9
Iowa 6
Nevada 6
New Hampshire 4

I think Obama loses Florida and Iowa, and I don’t feel great about Wisconsin.

I think Romney loses Ohio and Nevada and is looking weak in New Hampshire.

So if Obama can win Pennsylvania and Colorado, does that put him over the top?

Alternately, I think if Obama wins either Florida or Virginia, he gets re-elected. Conversely, if Romney wins Pennsylvania or Ohio, his chances have to look good.

Predictions, anyone?

Data Source: NY Times, The Electoral Map – Presidential Race Ratings and Swing States – Election 2012

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3 Responses to Electoral Math for the 2012 Presidential Race

  1. Frank says:

    I predict 330 or so electoral votes for Romney, and GOP wins for the House and Senate. The successful voter suppression efforts + end-of-campaign dark money will make this a huge GOP year, barring some huge surprise between now and November.

    It will be “significantly harder for more than five million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012”

  2. norbertus says:

    I predict a big win for corporate America and the national security state!

  3. bren says:

    Obama will win and the next four years will be interesting. the economy can tank, unemployment will be big (blacks/latinos) and foreclosures will go on and the questions about Obama’s birth certificate will continue. no matter. Obama told the blacks and latinos that he needs their votes and they will give it to him and also Obama has cnn constantly chipping away at Romney. Romney would be the perfect president for these times, but you have to realize that not all americans wish america well.

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