Political Numerology for 2012

903,000 is the total number of votes that would have to shift in the key states of (in order of size) Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Indiana, Nevada, and the Omaha-based First Congressional District of Nebraska to turn President Obama’s healthy 365 electoral vote victory in 2008 into a 268 vote defeat in the Electoral College this year. There have been four previous Electoral College “misfires” where the candidate who won the most popular votes didn’t become president -- in 1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000. This year, if less than 1% of the over 100 million American voters switched from Democrat to Republican in the swing states, history could repeat itself.

28 and 11 million: These were the increases in the total national vote cast in 2008 over 2000 and 2004, respectively. A record 133 million Americans voted in 2008 compared to 105 million in 2000 and 122 million in 2004 for a percentage turnout of roughly 63%, the highest since the early 1960s. Much of this increased turnout came from young voters and racial minorities, as black turnout equaled white turnout for the first time ever. Mr. Obama received a record-breaking 69.5 million votes in 2008. Barring a mistake-filled Romney campaign, it’s very hard to imagine him matching that figure in 2012. And a fall-off in black, Hispanic, and youth votes could be fatal in swing states like Florida and Ohio.

50,000: Speaking of Florida, there are 500,000 Jewish voters in the Sunshine State. If just 10% defected from the Democrats to protest the Obama administration’s Mideast policies, that would be a loss of 50,000 previously Democrat votes. Ask Al Gore how important a missing few votes in Florida can be!

Zero (o)That’s the number of American presidents who have been re-elected with a “job approval” rating of less than 50%. Presidents Herbert Hoover in 1932, Jerry Ford in 1976, Jimmy Carter in 1980, and the first George Bush in 1992 were all below 50% in the Gallup poll and lost. Presidents Harry Truman in 1952 and Lyndon Johnson in 1968 were also below 50% and chose to retire.  Thus far, in 2012, President Obama’s rating in the Gallup poll has ranged from 43% to 51%.  So, he may need a rally.