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What Can We Learn from 2010 in 2012?

Did the 2010 midterms turn "blue" states "red" in time for the 2012 presidential election?

by
Myra Adams

Bio

January 23, 2011 - 12:00 am

PENNSYLVANIA

Here is a wonderful example of a big red wave in a solid blue state.

Republican Tom Corbett was elected governor, defeating his Democratic opponent Dan Onorato 54.5% to 45.5%. Corbett replaced Democrat Governor Ed Rendell, who was term limited.

For the Senate, Republican Pat Toomey defeated Joe Sestak in a close 51% to 49% race. Given the older demographic composition of Pennsylvania, does this state have a good chance of turning presidential red? Or I am just desperately hunting for new red states?

The state has not gone red since 1988. Obama won it 54.7% to 44.3% for McCain. Pennsylvania has 20 big juicy electoral votes in 2012, down from 21 in 2008. Unemployment at 8.6% is below the national average, and we know those people are clinging to their guns and religion.

So here is a litmus test I would recommend for voters in every 2012 GOP presidential primary: could my candidate really win Pennsylvania? Your answer will be the key to a White House victory or defeat.

MICHIGAN

Michigan just elected Rick Snyder its first Republican governor since John Engler in 1998, but the state has been solid presidential blue since 2000. The last time Michigan went presidential red was in 1988 for Bush. Sure, it could change back to red in 2012; anything is possible — especially with the government takeover of the auto industry, the state’s 12.4% unemployment (the nation’s second highest), and the general malaise that is “pure” Michigan.

All these factors certainly contributed to Governor Snyder’s whopping 15% margin of victory.

However, do not bet on Michigan, which went 57% for Obama vs. 41% for McCain in 2008, to be a key battleground state in 2012 — although the good news is one less electoral vote (16 instead of 17) goes kerplunk into Obama’s solid blue column.

If Michigan turns presidential red in 2012, there will be only one word to describe the entire election: “landslide.”

WISCONSIN

As part of the 2010 wave, Wisconsin elected a Republican governor named Scott Walker with 52.3% of the vote, and in the Senate race Ron Johnson defeated one of the nation’s most liberal senators, Democrat Russ Feingold, by a 51.9% to 47% margin.

Did these two victories turn Wisconsin into a ripe red presidential state?

Probably not, for history tells us that while, since 1987, three of the last four Wisconsin governors have been Republican, the last time the state turned presidential red was for Reagan in 1984.

That means 24 years of presidential blue would have to be vaporized.

Wisconsin has 10 electoral votes that could sure come in handy for the Republican presidential candidate in 2012 trying to get to 270. But in 2008, Obama triumphed over McCain by 56% to 42%.

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is 7.6%, well below the national average, so expect Obama to spin that handily as part of his “back from the brink” campaign theme that you can assume campaign guru David Axelrod is concocting right about now.

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