Looking ahead to the 2012 presidential election, one begins to wonder what the electoral map will look like in four years. If the Republican candidate wants to win, they’re going to have to find 97 more electoral votes than Senator McCain found. This is a quick look at where those votes may come from.Obviously, there is no point in speculating on the Republican Candidate’s chances if President Obama wins the popular vote by 7 points again. So, let’s assume the race reverts to a tie. Assuming this happens because President Obama lost 7 points in each state, we can allot the electoral votes of every state he won by less than seven percent in 2008 to the Republican candidate. This flips the following states: Florida (27), Ohio (20), North Carolina (15), Virginia (13), Indiana (11), and Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District (1). There’s 87 electoral votes swung into the Republican column for a total of 260 electoral votes for the Republican Candidate (assuming (s)he holds all the McCain states, Arizona may be up for grabs without Senator McCain on the ballot). So my question is, where do the other 10 votes come from? President Obama was a solid two points ahead of his national numbers in most of the other swing states, which means the Republican would have to win the popular vote by a significant margin to take even one of them. Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada seem out of reach based on the results among the Hispanic population down there (could the Republican party possibly have nominated a remotely ideologically acceptable person who would have done better than McCain among Hispanics? I doubt it.) With the southwest seemingly out of play, we turn our focus to the rust belt and the upper mid-west. So, what’s the most likely source of those last ten electoral votes? Michigan? Wisconsin? Minnesota? Pennsylvania? Iowa and New Hampshire?
I think our best shot is at Iowa, a state where Senator McCain did not campaign in the primaries, but where President Bush won by a razor-thin margin in 2004. If the Republican candidate campaigns there in the primaries, the state could flip in 2012. But that still leaves us three votes short. Is the Republican Candidate’s best bet to try to flip New Hampshire, or go after one of the bigger states? What are your thoughts?