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Way too early for 2012 Electoral College math, but what the heck

It's absurdly premature to start playing out scenarios on the Electoral College map for an election that is 20 months away, but Chris Cillizza of the Wash Post did it anyway over the weekend and made one calculation that might have some staying power when the race actually takes shape.

Obama's 2008 win was so solid and involved such a thorough sweep of traditional swing states, plus the capture of several states that had been solidly red over recent cycles, that he could lose as many six of the states he carried in 2008 and still reach the crucial 270 electoral votes needed for victory.

And yes, the list starts with the big two swing states -- Ohio and Florida  -- that have seemed to determine the outcome of the previous three elections. Obama was the only Democrat in the last three cycles to carry them both, and Al Gore and John Kerry would have won if they had done so. But if you subtract them from Obama's total, he still would have had a comfortable margin. Cillizza also subtracted three states that Obama turned from red to blue last time -- Virginia, North Carolina and Indiana -- and Obama still had an electoral majority. And, just to push the math to the limits, Cillizza also subtracted Nevada, which has been a swing state in recent presidential history, and Obama still squeaked by.

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Comments (4)

The trouble with any kind of prediction is that we've gone from an extreme Dem swing in 2008 to an extreme Rep swing in 2010. No one has any idea what a true baseline looks like anymore. This year's politics will be a big influence (of course) but some other domestic issues will probably be even bigger. If unemployment is still near double digits and gas prices are near $5 next year then Obama will have an uphill climb. On the other hand, if the GOP candidate implodes, he should cruise easily.

I'm inclined to agree with Mr. DeFor. Like relief pitchers, the public has a very short memory, and what happens in the next 18 to 20 months will make a huge difference.

Obama is the incumbent; it's still his to lose.
Since right now he seems to be running against the seven dwarfs, the odds are in his favor. Romney and Hucklebee are way ahead, but they're not going any higher; Pawlenty, Bachmann et al are still at the bottomof the hill. Unless someone comes out of the woodwork and does an Obama, the GOP is running for 2016.

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. Elections wouldn't be about winning states. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps. Every vote, everywhere would be counted for and directly assist the candidate for whom it was cast. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states.

In the 2012 election, pundits and campaign operatives already agree that only 14 states and their voters will matter under the current winner-take-all laws (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in each state) used by 48 of the 50 states. Candidates will not care about 72% of the voters-- voters in 19 of the 22 lowest population and medium-small states, and big states like California, Georgia, New York, and Texas. 2012 campaigning would be even more obscenely exclusive than 2008 and 2004. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. Policies important to the citizens of ‘flyover’ states are not as highly prioritized as policies important to ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing.

The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes--that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for president. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action.

In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). Support for a national popular vote is strong in virtually every state, partisan, and demographic group surveyed in recent polls in closely divided battleground states: CO-- 68%, IA --75%, MI-- 73%, MO-- 70%, NH-- 69%, NV-- 72%, NM-- 76%, NC-- 74%, OH-- 70%, PA -- 78%, VA -- 74%, and WI -- 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK – 70%, DC – 76%, DE --75%, ME -- 77%, NE -- 74%, NH --69%, NV -- 72%, NM -- 76%, RI -- 74%, VT -- 75%, and WY – 69%; in Southern and border states: AR --80%, KY -- 80%, MS --77%, MO -- 70%, NC -- 74%, and VA -- 74%; and in other states polled: CA -- 70%, CT -- 74% , MA -- 73%, MN – 75%, NY -- 79%, WA -- 77%, and WV- 81%.

A survey of 800 Minnesota voters showed 75% overall support for a national popular vote for President. Support was 84% among Democrats, 69% among Republicans, and 68% among others. By age, support was 74% among 18-29 year olds, 73% among 30-45 year olds, 77% among 46-65 year olds, and 75% for those older than 65. By gender, support was 83% among women and 67% among men.

The bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers, in 21 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in AR, CT, DE, DC, ME, MI, NV, NM, NY, NC, and OR, and both houses in CA, CO, HI, IL, NJ, MD, MA ,RI, VT, and WA . The bill has been enacted by DC, HI, IL, NJ, MD, MA, and WA. These 7 states possess 74 electoral votes — 27% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.