Skip to comments.Wargaming the Electoral College
Posted on 05/23/2012 11:04:47 AM PDT by Kaslin
Welcome to the official launch of this season’s Wargames. It’s way — way — too early to call this election either way, so instead we’re going to look at the changes since 2008, and the special challenges Mitt Romney faces. My maps are all courtesy of 270toWin‘s iPad app, which is a superior tool to their website. The maps are prettier, too.
First up, Team Obama is counting on at a 50/50 election, which looks OK to them. If you drop Obama down to 50% of the vote, from his 52.9% of four years ago, here’s what you get.
In this scenario, Romney picks off NC, IN, FL and NE’s second district. That’s a 290 to 248 victory for the President, or four better than what George W. Bush pulled off in 2004. Those of us who remember that election know that isn’t a whole lot of wiggle room, but it will do. Unless Romney implodes between now and then, this is probably Obama’s best-case scenario. Maybe he blames Bush.
There’s been talk on the Obama side of maybe picking up Arizona this year, but I haven’t heard much of that talk the last few weeks.
If Romney connects with voters while “his” 527s help make “Obama” a dirty word, he might manage a cozier win in the popular vote, with 51.5%. If we drop Obama down to the remainder, let’s what happens to the map. You might be in for a surprise — I know I was.
Would you look at that. Romney could beat Obama by three points, and still pick up only OH — while Obama picks up another four years at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. As far as wins go, that’s about as ugly as they come. But it does feed into a strain of thinking on the Left that the Democrats enjoy a permanent Electoral College advantage.
Nobody is immune to this kind of thinking, by the way. The Republicans succumbed to it around the time of Bush 41′s election, smiling at the fact that the Democrats could never overcome their natural advantage in… California. This was shortly before California turned deepest blue and Bill Clinton made serious inroads into the South.
Anyway, the Democrats look at the same numbers I’m using, and can’t help but squeal with joy that the next state Obama could lose would be VA — where he won by a whopping 6.3% over McCain. Going up from there, Obama’s next “narrowest” win was my home state of CO — where his margin was 7.3%. These are not numbers to sneeze at. It would seem that the third tier of states would be very, very difficult for Romney to take away.
Well, maybe — maybe not.
To believe all this, you have to believe that the electorate is static. That simply by calculating changes in the popular vote, we can accurately predict where each state will fall based on how they voted last time.
But obviously, the electorate is not static. 2008 was very different electorate from 2004, which was different again from 2000. Don’t let the similar end results of 2000/2004 fool you; the War on Terror had shaken things up considerably. I suspect the Democratic overreach of 2009-10 and the Tea Party have shaken things up yet again.
Which brings us to the voodoo portion of the show, where we chant and perform bizarre rituals to try and determine just how mixed up/muddled up/shook up things have gotten.
This time, we’re playing the game slightly differently. Instead of big blue and bold red, we’re going with shades of red and blue. Dark blue, safe Dem. Middle blue, likely Dem. Light blue, leaning Dem. And the same goes for the GOP. The darker the red, the safer the state.
What we have here is a close race — but with much more upside potential for Romney. He would probably pick up CO and WI with that same 51.5% of the vote, and maybe OH, too, which would be good enough for the win.
I’ll be gentle and give you a brief rundown of some of my more oddball changes to the map.
Did I really paint OR medium blue? Yes, I did. I don’t think Romney has a sea otter’s chance in a gas turbine of picking this state up, but I am hearing lots of dissatisfied rumbles from the state.
VA, light blue. Maybe closer to a toss-up. Romney will have to use the Tea Party to full effect in Coal Country to neutralize Democrat gains in NoVA. But it can be done.
NH, light red. All word on the ground is, Obama is through here. NH really soured on Bush, but is likely to come back to the fold for a Northeastern moderate — so long as Romney doesn’t go Scary Right with his Veep pick.
FL. Similar story to NH. Also, I haven’t been able to find a single elderly Jew who hasn’t fallen sincerely out of love with the President. It would take a winning war for Israel, fully backed by US power, to win them back. (Don’t give the White House any ideas. –ed.
CO. Yes, Obama won big here in 2008. Yes, the state GOP has spent six years in a circular firing squad. But the magic is gone. My gut tells me Obama hangs on, my brain says not quite yet.
WI. Totally in play.
PA is light blue, but could go white in a heartbeat. Those bitter clingers are more bitter and clingy than ever. Watch closely — especially for voter fraud in Philly and Pittsburgh.
AZ. I expect Obama to make a very serious run at the state. I also expect him to lose.
NV. It’s the reverse of CO. My gut tells me Romney eke out a win here, my brain says not so fast.
MN. It’s PA’s nicer, younger brother. Obama has been very nasty, and will get nastier. That’s just not how Minnesotans like to play. Also, the state’s progs aren’t so excited any more about the Lightbringer. Events in WI next month may have an influence, too.
I’m also looking at NJ. Not because I expect Romney to win, but because Chris Christie remains so popular there. The GOP has a whole lot of Not Scary governors now, which helps the party’s image and provides extra infrastructure in some of these battleground states.
But before we go, just one last map… the one I really ought not make you see…
This is not an implausible scenario.
Sleep tight, muchachos.
A few problems with those maps.
PA is not sewn up as an Obama state yet.
WI is definitely in play and a likely red state.
NH is most likely going to be a red state and Maine may be as well.
If the EC tied, would the Republicans control at least 26 of the state delegations in the House of Representatives?
If there’s a tie, the next Congress would vote, so we don’t know for sure yet.
Further, although Virginia is demographically changing with the bureaucrats of the federal government debauching more and more onto the northern counties, I understand from a remark by Karl Rove that Fairfax has lost about 35,000 voters since 2008 which is not a good sign for Obama. Nor does an assumption that Virginia will simply replay 2008 make sense in view of the electoral history since then. There is also the matter of intensity, and recent developments in Kentucky, Arkansas, South Carolina, and West Virginia all indicate that there is demoralization throughout the whole of the Democrat party but especially in those states which have anything to do with mining coal. Virginia does have coal mining in the Southwest corner. I assume Virginia will be in Romney's column and so that brings me back to Ohio as the true battleground. As an aside we might note that if Pennsylvania goes for Romney the whole of the Midwest including certainly Wisconsin and Iowa, excepting only Illinois and perhaps Michigan, will go Republican. If Romney wins Pennsylvania he almost certainly will win Ohio although the reverse is not necessarily true.
If Romney wins Wisconsin he probably will also have Ohio which is another way of saying that I see the election as similar to the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 in which the electorate breaks strongly for Romney at some point. I think we are rapidly approaching that point. Every move of the Obama campaign so far has been effectively blocked and then parried.
Although I am concededly surprised at the polling numbers in the last few days which saw Romney's Rasmussen total of 50% go down as low as 42%, he has recovered and Obama's surge has tapered off. It appears that the surefooted Obama election machine of 2008 has lost its footing.
If I am correct in this forecast, expect to see an October Surprise involving an attack on Iraq at an opportune time before the election in an effort to change momentum.
PA has a photo ID law for voting going into effect this fall.
I would break open my 30 year old bottle of Port if I could hear Chris Matthews puke out “The president has lost Pennsylvania”.
I can dream, can’t I?
“A few problems with those maps.”
In comments at the linked article Steven Green essentailly says these maps represent a best case for Obama - barely winning.
One question I have been considering is whether Nevada will turn out to be an “easy” win for Romney due to mormons making up 6.9% of its population. Given that this will be an historic election for them, I would expect the LDS would mobilize, knock on doors, and smile Romney to Nevada’s electoral college votes.
Need to do the same wargaming with voting precincts, not entire states.
At the smallest granularity short of individual voters, the red/blue splits run quite strictly across urban/rural borders. Understanding the fluctuation of these borders is crucial. To say “PA may go red” fails to account for whether the urban/rural voter population balance is close enough that slight shifts on city fringes could tip the state one way or another. I know from prior research that NY is blue because NYC, Syracuse, Rochester, Albany & Buffalo just plain out-populate the rest of the state, with per-precinct red/blue changes happening right at the edges of those cities, and no amount of outrage in the red zones will produce enough votes to out-vote the die-hard blue cities.
Real question is: how much must the red rural regions of states encroach upon blue cities to throw a state’s cumulative votes right? is it realistic? There is some population density where a precinct will go blue, without fail.
We had majorities in both houses of the legislature and a GOP governor pledged to sign the bill. We had a chickensh*t State GOP chairman who lobbied against it for fears it might dilute his influence.
Switch 8-14 electoral votes in Pennsylvania from Democrat to GOP just to see how much Obama's electoral prospects would have been complicated. A switch of 11 or 12 would be the most likely scenario.
Hell, I’d open a bottle of Starboard, too. ;-)
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