Last week I looked at how state-by-state unemployment might affect the 2012 presidential campaign map. And now Chris Cilizza helpfully zooms out to consider the landscape more generally:
Obama’s 365 electoral votes in 2000 were 114 more than Kerry won and 99 more than Gore received….
Let’s assume Obama loses [both Ohio and Florida] – plausible if not certain, given where he stands in polls in each state. If he managed to hold the 26 other states he won in 2008, Obama would be reelected with 318 electoral votes – 32 more than George W. Bush won when he was reelected in 2004 and 47 more than he won in 2000.
Of course, given Obama’s slippage in traditional Republican redoubts at the presidential level, it’s hard to imagine that he would hold together the rest of his state-by-state coalition if he lost those two states.
So let’s add Indiana (11 electoral votes), North Carolina (15) and Virginia (13) to his potential 2012 losses. (He was the first Democratic presidential nominee to carry Indiana and Virginia since 1964 and the first one to win North Carolina since 1976.)
Take those five states from Obama and give him the 23 others he won in 2008 and he will be reelected with 279 electoral votes. Throw Nevada – a true swing state at the presidential level – into the Republican nominee’s category and Obama will still win, with 273 votes.
Unless the economy catches fire, 2012 won’t be easy for Obama. In particular, I’d be sweating over Colorado, where Obama’s approval rating was at 36 percent just a few months ago–and the loss of which, when added into the scenario above, would send Obama home as a one-termer. That said, this is a reminder that he can afford a fair amount of blue-to-red retrenchment and still win re-election.
P.S. If you want to start playing along at home, here’s a good electoral map calculator (featuring the–fairly minor–projected changes in state electoral vote counts after the 2010 Census).