Wargaming the Electoral College
This week we're going to limit our focus to the battlegrounds and the leaners, and avoid all the Byzantine scenario building. Taking the latest from Rasmussen, Nate Silver, and some other sources, here's the map we get.
This should be easy to read. Dark blue is safe for President Obama, while light blue states are his leaners. Dark red is Mitt Romney country, with light red leaners. Uncolored states are the toss-ups.
Three surprises this time around, one of which you might already be pointing and laughing at: "He has Illinois is a leaner? What a maroon!" Very likely, yes. But the only poll I've seen out of Illinois showed Obama with only 49% -- in Cook County, home of Chicago. Any Democrat running statewide in Illinois needs to run up the numbers in Cook, because they're going to get slaughtered downstate. Now, I don't really think Illinois is in play, but until I see some other indicator, I'm putting it in the leans column. It might even stay there long enough for me to finish writing this paragraph.
Missouri got downgraded to leans Romney, thanks to the heroic jerkiness of one Todd Akin. Women will turn out in droves to vote against this guy. Missouri, once safely red, is now a state to watch. You can't hear me, but I'm saying very bad words right now.
And Colorado lost its blue tint for the first time ever on a battleground map. I thought my home state was going to be a tough nut for Romney to crack. He underperformed here during the primaries, I thought, and our state GOP has been in a circular firing squad for the better part of a decade now. You'd think they'd have run out of ammo, but no. Anyway, the last Rasmussen poll gave Romney a nice edge, with an R+5 sample. Colorado was R+1 in 2008 (when Obama was the Messiah) and R+9 in 2004 (when it went heavily for Bush). So R+5 sounds about right, as Colorado tilts back partway towards its historic norm.
But the map imparts too much data and not enough knowledge. So I've prepared a couple of tables for you.