On top is Chris Cillizza analysis of Romney’s narrow path on the electoral map.
A detailed analysis of Romney’s various paths to the 270 electoral votes he would need to claim the presidency suggests he has a ceiling of somewhere right around 290 electoral votes.
While Romney’s team would absolutely take a 290-electoral-vote victory, that means he has only 20 electoral votes to play with — a paper-thin margin for error.Romney’s relatively low electoral-vote ceiling isn’t unique to him. No Republican presidential nominee has received more than 300 electoral votes in more than two decades. (Vice President George H.W. Bush won 426 electoral votes in his 1988 victory over Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis.)
By contrast, Bill Clinton in 1992 (370 electoral votes) and 1996 (379) as well as Obama in 2008 (365) soared well beyond the 300-electoral-vote marker.
Much of that is attributable to the fact that Democrats have near-certain wins in population (and, therefore, electoral-vote) behemoths such as California (55 electoral voters), New York (29) and Illinois (20).
All true but historical examination is in a lot of cases overstated just as the temptation to declare political realignment is. Right after 2008, that seemed to be the forgone conclusion, though political realignment in favor of the Democrats was hardly a universal idea, only to see it all disappear in congressional and state elections two years later. The other side of the coin is to declare Obama all but defeated if we use historical data to judge his chances for reelection considering the economy and the nation’s mood. That, too, is somewhat overstated if we look at current polls.
Both parties are equally strong nationally, and like always, will fight it out over a few swing states. That point is the key — the bellwether states that will decide the election. When the mood in the country is ripe for change, these swing states are not as ideologically locked down as the solid blue or red states are accordingly. Though recent demographics look to be having a strong influence in states like Nevada, New Mexico, and certainly Colorado, citing a locked-in ceiling as a disadvantage for Romney is premature and probably false.
Assuming all things being equal for this election, neither candidate in my view is likely to exceed 300 electoral votes. Meaning, it’s not as Cillizza suggests. The likely result isn’t necessarily a GOP thing. The ideological rigidness in the biggest regions, along with what is shaping up to be a competitive contest, just will not allow a runaway victory for either candidate for this contest — again all things being equal. Instead, we’ll see an all out fight for the remaining electoral votes and a likely Romney victory assuming he can capture traditionally presidential election-year Republican states. Such as the ones President Bush won back in the 2000 and 2004 elections. That being said, President Obama will almost certainly not duplicate the 365 electoral votes he captured in 2008.
The Obama/Biden ticket was able to invade traditional Republican territory picking up key states like Florida, Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia along the way. In 2012 the issues are different and unlike 2008, Obama finds himself the incumbent. It is unlikely that Obama will be able to hang on to the majority of the states that brought about his landslide victory so the map must default back to its historical precedence and that is not a bad thing for Romney.
We will likely witness a more traditional electoral map outcome with Romney reclaiming Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina and Virginia. Even if Obama is able to hold onto Colorado and New Mexico, Romney would win with 278 electoral votes to Obama’s 260.
For example, the 2008 electoral map results for Obama/Biden.
Here is the likely outcome, in my estimate, assuming Romney captures the electoral vote. (Nevada could swing for Obama just as New Hampshire and possibly Michigan could swing for Romney. The variables are too numerous to account for. Since this will likely be a contest between equal forces, a more traditional map is the better bet).