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June 22, 2012

#AOSHQDD : Interim Presidential Race Forecast, Part Four: The Swing States

Realized I started these too late in the week and wanted the final with leaners included before week's end, so here is part four:

Post-Wisconsin I've been working with JohnE on expanding the Decision Desk to 50-state coverage. In the meantime, I've kept my eye on polling data and will continue to reveal the current projection of the Presidential race.

Finally, we introduce the swing states, those which may show the most activity jumping between the President and Romney. The lean Obama, lean Romney, and toss-up states make up the largest bloc of electoral votes outside the solids. They are, as their name implies, the most volitile. In most if not all of these either contender enjoys at best a five-point edge over their opponent, in several (Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Colorado) we are talking a point or less.

With this final category (split into three groups) added, President Obama enjoys a 263-253 edge over Mitt Romney, with 22 electoral votes as tossups.
Map below the fold.


Dark red/blue states are the solids we showed in the kickoff thread, bright red/blue states are the likely, cerulean blue /bright pink are the "favored" states, and the light blue, light red, and purple states are your swing states.

Recapping, President Obama enjoys:
"SOLID" 131 electoral votes
"LIKELY" 37 electoral votes
"FAVORED" 26 electoral votes
"SWING" 69 electoral votes

Governor Mitt Romney enjoys:
"SOLID" 159 electoral votes
"LIKELY" 47 electoral votes
"FAVORED" 0 electoral votes
"SWING" 47 electoral votes

Much of Obama's "lead" overall is misleading, and unlike the findings of other analysts, the blue states, particularly in the midwest, are shaky ground for him. Two of the largest states in the swing category (lean/tossups) are in Romney's camp, and one more would make the President's re-election virtually impossible. A clever strategy for the President would be to fall back onto his "wall" in the midwest and northeast, as "ceding" smaller EV states wouldn't cost him nearly as dearly as, say, a Michigan or Pennsylvania.

The map also shows the way the United States has changed in the last decade. The midwest has become more competitive for the Republicans, the Southwest and Virginia far more favorable to the Democrats. Pretending these shifts aren't actually happening will result in a lot of misleading predictions and disappointment for either party refusing to accept them. Republicans face the challenge of defending Virginia, once a solid red state, and the SW corner of the Sun Belt. Democrats face the wrath of blue collar workers around the Great Lakes, in some regions more than they ever had (the Iron Range in Minnesota, Western Pennsylvania, UP Michigan, etc).

There is always one state or region that a close race boils down to. We are at a crossroads between a 2000/2004 race and a 1988/2008 one, so I'm going with a region of states that went heavily for Obama in 2008, split in 2000 and 2004, and went for the Republicans in a big way in 2010:


If Obama holds all of these states, he wins re-election handily. If he cedes at least one, things get close. If he cedes two of the big prizes, he is done. As the campaign heats up, wonders of wonders, most analysts' focus will draw to these states and away from the current suspects of Colorado and Virginia, Nevada and Florida. These states have had the widest swings in political preference and suffered terribly in the recession; several have whole regions that have failed to recover by even the tiniest of margins since 2009. This is the battleground, whether we wishcast for someplace else or just accept it.

Like in the previous threads, if you are available to cover on election night in November (as part of an expanded project a la what we did with Wisconsin), contact me via twitter email, as it would be easier to keep addys around: theoneandonlyfinn at Mention your state. Also if you volunteered in the last thread shoot me a message to get the list growing. If you live in a solid/likely state, you can still contribute with senate or house races, but you will probably be assigned counties in the closest swing state to you to help report.
If I have already replied, no need to re-send, I have you down.

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posted by CAC at 09:24 PM

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