I was intrigued by Quin’s post late last week about the potential for a tie between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in the Electoral College — because I had recently run the numbers and come up with the exact same outcome.
Our analyses are very similar, though not exactly the same. Here’s the way I broke it down:
Safe Obama States – California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Minnesota, Illinois, Maryland, Delaware, Washington D.C. (which, don’t forget, has 3 electoral votes), New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine (all votes — Maine is proportional). Grand total of 196 electoral votes
Safe Romney States – Alaska, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska (all votes — Nebraska is proportional as well), Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, West Virginia. Grand total of 170 Electoral votes.
Toss-Ups I Give to Obama: Colorado, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Michigan, Virginia, Pennsylvania. Grand total of 73 electoral votes
Toss-Ups I Give to Romney: Nevada, Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, New Hampshire. Total of 99 electoral votes.
The end result: 269-269. The same logjam that Quin reported, with each candidate a single vote shy of victory.
A few thoughts on the toss-ups: I give Colorado and New Mexico to Obama because the growing Hispanic demographic in both of those states is bolstering Democrats and diluting those states’ former allegiance to Mountain West libertarianism (Democrats have also done a bang-up job of organizing Colorado). Wisconsin will be close and I can see it flipping, but — unlike a lot of the conservative commentariat — I don’t necessarily believe that the Walker recall election presages a Romney win; Badger State voters may be compartmentalizing more than the pundits give them credit for (something the exit polling seemed to suggest).
I think Obama takes Michigan because Romney’s rather thin biographical attachment to the state won’t be able to trump Obama’s relentless touting of all he did for Detroit with the auto bailout. Virginia stays close, but goes to Obama because the army of government employees now calling D.C.’s Northern Virginia suburbs home gives him the margin of victory. Pennsylvania is always overrated as a swing state. It’s been reliable for Democrats in presidential elections for decades and the fact that it elected a Republican governor and senator in 2010 has no more bearing on the electoral vote than does the election of statewide Democrats in Montana or West Virginia, two states that will still reliably go for Romney.
I think Romney will generally perform well in the Midwest. The combination of the Obama Administration’s poor economic record and its limousine liberalism (neither of which have anything to offer to the sorts of blue-collar voters who are key in the region) may have a catalytic effect on swing voters, giving Romney Indiana (which, unlike 2008, I don’t anticipate being close), Iowa, and Missouri. Ohio promises to be very close, but I think those same factors may give him a slight edge there. The biggest factor Romney needs to guard against in this part of the country is the Obama campaign’s relentless attempts to use his work at Bain to characterize him as an enemy of lunchbucket workers.
Unlike Virginia (where the D.C. suburbs are, in cultural terms, essentially another state), North Carolina still has all the cultural markings of a Southern electorate. Obama squeaked by there last time under the best of circumstances. I doubt he’ll be able to repeat that feat with his record in tow. Nevada shares demographic factors with New Mexico and Colorado (it also boasts a large union presence because of the abundance of service employees in Las Vegas). But there’s a big Mormon contingent in the state that will be characteristically well-organized and may be able to push Romney over the edge.
Finally, Florida and New Hampshire. These two are the toughest. Florida comes down to a gut check on my part. It is, in many respects, the ultimate swing state. Here, the fact that a Republican governor and senator were elected in 2010 is relevant. This one could be incredibly tight, but I’m inclined to give ties to Romney given the unhappiness with Obama’s performance. As for New Hampshire, its libertarian political culture couldn’t be more different from the rest of New England. That, combined with the fact that Romney was the governor of a neighboring state (part of southern New Hampshire is in the Boston media market) and has a home in Wolfeboro are salient. Republicans have been rolling in New Hampshire of late and I can see Romney picking this one up on election day.