Over at NationalJournal.com, former Bush 43 and Schwarzenegger advisor Matthew Dowd describes the three factors that, in his estimation, could do in Barack Obama in 2012: a poor economy, continued overseas crises, and a charismatic Republican challenger.
There’s a fourth variable – the ever-changing nature of the presidency (it changed under Hoover in 1932, Carter in 1980, and Bush 41 in 1992) – but that’s another discussion for another day.
But rather than waste your time speculating on the circumstances involved in unseating an incumbent president – good luck predicting this nation’s health and other nations’ mischief 19 months from now – I’d like you to engage in something far more empirical: presidential mathematics.
Specifically, I want you to go to this site – www.270towin.com – and chart the Republicans’ most efficient path to 270 electoral votes.
Setting the interactive map to 2012 numbers (remember, we’ve had a census since the last election, so the 2008 numbers no longer apply), start with Obama carrying the same states as last time. That translates to 359 electoral votes for the president (down from 365 in 2008), and 179 for the generic Republican.
I’ve been tinkering with the map, figuring how and where to turn blue states red, and here’s my scenario for a GOP win in 2012:
First, I believe Obama loses three states on the natural: Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia. Obama carried the Hoosier State by less than 1% in 2008 (while incumbent Gov. Mitch Daniels was re-elected in a landslide). As for Virginia and North Carolina, Obama will be hard-pressed to win back 2008’s benefit-of-the-doubt independents since disillusioned by deficit spending, healthcare and an unsteady presidential demeanor.
Subtract those three states and their combined 39 electoral votes and it’s now Obama 320, Republican 218.
Now, take a look at the rest of the country, and tell me where the GOP finds another 52 electoral votes.
I see three opportunities:
The Western trio of Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. A total of 20 electoral votes.
The Upper Midwest semi-circle of (moving clockwise) Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio. A total of 50 electoral votes.
Florida. 29 electoral votes.
What this tells me is there’s a decidedly pragmatic choice for the next GOP ticket. And that would be Mitch Daniels as the presidential nominee, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio as his running mate (and, to answer your first question: no, I’m not on either gentleman’s payroll).
Why is Daniels-Rubio a pragmatic choice? Again, take a look at the 270towin.com map. Directly in the middle of the Midwestern semi-circle of swing states is . . . Indiana. As for Florida and its potential influence on national elections, enough said.
Of course, this scenario might not play out if Daniels opts not to run. And the idea of a first-term senator elevated to national office? It could never happen in this day and age (he said, sarcastically, thinking back to 2008).
So please, go ahead and fiddle with the map. Reshuffle the electoral deck. And, if you come up with a better, easier scenario, by all means share it with us.