Romney: The Easiest Path to Victory--and It Ain't All That Easy
Our discussion yesterday about swing states and Veep candidates got me to wondering: Judging by the math alone, what would Romney's easiest path to victory look like? I used the simplest methodology possible here, merely ranking states that Obama won in 2008 according to his margin of victory, from lowest to highest. Supposing Romney carried every state this year that McCain carried in 2008, I then asked, how many states would Romney need to capture from Obama--proceeding, again, by starting with the states in which Obama's victory proved lowest--to get to 270 electoral votes?
Here's the answer:
- North Carolina. Obama's margin in 2008: 0.33%. Electoral votes: 15
- Indiana. Obama's margin in 2008: 1.03%. Electoral votes: 11
- Florida. Obama's margin in 2008: 2.81%. Electoral votes: 27
- Ohio. Obama's margin in 2008: 4.58%. Electoral votes: 20
- Virginia. Obama's margin in 2008: 6.30%. Electoral votes: 13
- Colorado. Obama's margin in 2008: 8.95%. Electoral votes: 9
If, once again, he held all the states John McCain carried in 2008, then picked up each of the states above, Mitt Romney would win 274 electoral votes and the White House.
Why take the time to go through such an exercise? Well, to some of us, it's just fun to monkey around with the electoral map, and fun is--well, it's fun. But the exercise is also, in a couple of ways, suggestive.
The good news: Since Obama carried each, Florida has elected Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, Virginia has elected Republican Gov. Robert McDonnell, and Ohio has elected Republican Sen. Rob Portman, who carried the state by an astounding 18%. And in Indiana, of course, Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels enjoys approval ratings that range from the mid-60s to the low 70s.
The bad news: Recent polls have mostly shown Obama leading Romney in Virginia--in some polls by high single digits. That can change, obviously--we're months away from Election Day, Lord knows--but it's ominous. Perhaps more to the point, in 2010 Colorado elected Democrats to both the senate (Michael Bennett) and the governor's mansion (John Hickenlooper). To carry Colorado, Romney would have to achieve a swing of some 9% from 2008, a difficult feat in itself, and do so in a state that, unlike Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Florida, has in no way warmed to the GOP.
On the list above, in other words, Virginia is that last state that ought to be easy--and these days even Virginia ain't looking all that easy.
Mitt Romney has his work cut out for him.
(For my fellow junkies: You'll find a list of 2008 results by state here. Note that, after Colorado, the next few states on the list run as follows: Iowa, which Obama carried by 9.53%; New Hampshire, which Obama carried by 9.61%; Minnesota, which Obama carried by 10.24%; Pennsylvania, which Obama carried by 10.31%; Nevada, which Obama carried by 12.49%; and Wisconsin, which Obama carried by 13.9%. To play around with different combinations of states that would enable Romney to win 270 electoral votes, look here.)