Wargaming the Electoral College [UPDATED]

Team Obama is writing off the Keystone State? That’s the heads-up I got this morning from Glenn Reynolds. Here is what you need to know:

The Brighton Hot Dog Shoppe on Third Avenue is one of those places where politicians who want to be president stop to look decidedly un-presidential.

Al Gore visited; so did John Kerry. President Barack Obama opted instead for ice cream at the Windmill, 8 miles up the road.

“It is where you take them to make candidates look authentic,” explained a Democrat strategist who routinely works on presidential campaigns in the Keystone State.

After orchestrating three statewide presidential wins, he is sitting out this cycle. He doesn’t see Obama winning Pennsylvania in 2012.


We’ll get back to that Salena Zito story shortly, because there are some election clues in there too good to pass up. But first, let’s look at the revised EC map, if indeed Pennsylvania is going red.

[Image Courtesy of 270toWin. I love those guys.]

The only change from August’s starting pistol map, is the addition of PA to the Republican column — but what an addition it makes. 226 is just 44 votes shy of victory. That gives the GOP candidate 134 different ways to cobble together the votes. I won’t bore you with that much detail, so instead, let’s go back to Zito:

The latest survey from liberal-leaning Public Policy Polling showed 59 percent of white Pennsylvania voters disapprove of Obama’s job performance, a rate usually found among Southern voters.

States with Southern voting patterns vote R for President.

Sean Trende, a RealClearPolitics numbers analyst, said that while the president could write off Pennsylvania and win, it would be difficult. “The key would be holding the Bush states he won in the Mountain West — Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico, plus Virginia and North Carolina.”

That path gives him 280 electoral votes and assumes he will lose Indiana and Ohio, which he almost certainly will if he loses Pennsylvania.

Now, I’ve already assumed that Indiana and North Carolina are goners for President Obama. But what happens to the map when we color Ohio red? That bumps the Republican total to 244, meaning that if Obama also loses Florida, it’s over. He can keep all his other big gains from 2008 — and still lose the election.


A couple weeks ago, we looked at Obama’s two possible paths to reelection. National Journal put it this way:

The president’s advisers are stuck between pursuing two distinctly different strategies and two very different kinds of voters, each of which is crucial to his reelection. The first is an “Ohio strategy,” which means adopting an aggressively populist message to win back blue-collar voters in Rust Belt states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. The second is a “Virginia strategy,” which would emphasize a more centrist message aimed at upscale white-collar professionals and college-educated suburbanites.

I thought the answer was obvious — pursue the Ohio strategy. Over in the West Wing, however, they feel differently, having effectively decided to abandon the white working-class vote. That vote, by the way, in large part determines elections in states like PA, OH, IN. And it’s hard to win without it in places like MI, WI, MN, IA, too.

But let us suppose this strategy gives the president Florida and Virginia both, although I think Florida is a longshot. That still gives the GOP nominee the win, if he can pick off MI and MN, or MI and WI or any of 30 other combinations, most of which involve the very voters Obama has decided to give up.

For the Democrats, it might all come down to Florida. Again.

It didn’t have to be that way, if only they’d listened.


More and more, I get on-the-ground reports telling me Florida is going red this year, that the magic of Hopenchange is well and truly lost. Well, let’s take a look at that, too.


If we assume — and not too rashly — that Ohio turns Red before Florida and Florida turns red before Pennsylvania and that PA is going red…

…well, then Team Obama must absolutely hold on to VA and NC to even have a chance, trailing 214-258.

The problem for Obama is, NC turns Red before Florida does.

This is a mixed-up, muddled-up, shook-up strategy they’re pursuing.


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