This week, after a round-up of recent polling data for the president against other Republican challengers, we have put together an electoral map projection for the 2012 Presidential Election.
Our earliest projection (which we did not post) had the president winning re-election by a sizable margin (313-225). This week’s, however, is a different story.
In a match-up between a mythical Republican challenger (a Romney-Bachmann-Perry hybrid), the mythical Republican earns a majority of 274 electoral votes to President Obama’s 264 electoral votes.
Here are the highlights:
Pennsylvania and its 20 electoral votes are in the Red column. Recent polling has shown former governor Mitt Romney polling even with the president in this state; the president’s Keystone favorables continue to be subpar compared to his national average. It should be noted that Romney–who tied President Obama in a recent state poll by PPP–is the only prospective Republican candidate within 7 percentage points of President Obama in this state, which may be a small sign of good news for the president.
Florida and its 29 electoral votes are in the Red column. This state is a bit of a mystery–as always–in this election cycle. A more markedly independent state than any other year, the state boasts both an unpopular Republican governor and very low approval ratings for President Obama. With a higher percentage of voters over the age of 50, it remains to be seen whether the backlash to Republican budget proposals cutting Social Security and Medicare will have negative effects for Republican candidates.
North Carolina‘s 15 electoral votes are narrowly in the Red column. Surprisingly–given the state’s historical trends and party identification–President Obama’s approval rating here is mildly positive. Given an Independent backlash to recent state Republican budget proposals, this state may once again switch to support President Obama’s re-election in 2012.
Virginia‘s 13 electoral votes are in the Blue column. This is curious, since the state’s Republican governor is very popular, but demographics and a decent approval rating for the president may be driving the Commonwealth towards a more bluish tint in presidential contests. This one will be close up until election day, as both sides have influential campaigners who will likely be doing a great deal of legwork to influence votes.
Iowa‘s 6 and New Mexico‘s 5 electoral votes are in the Blue column. The president continues to be popular in these traditionally “purple” states and leads prospective challengers by healthy margins.
New Hampshire‘s 4 electoral votes are in the Red Column. This is the president’s worst New England state–despite boasting a popular Democratic governor, President Obama’s approval rating is sour. Predictably at this point, only Romney–again, likely due to name recognition–has a polling lead over the president (within the margin of error). A “first-in-the-nation” primary may generate Republican excitement in this state, which is commonly the most competitive in the Northeast.
The following are states to watch–where the election outcome will likely be closest–and which candidate has the upper hand at this time:
President Obama: Ohio (18), Michigan (16), Virginia (13), Iowa (6), New Mexico (5)
Mythical GOP candidate: Florida (29), Pennsylvania (20), North Carolina (15), Arizona (11), Colorado (9), Nevada (6), New Hampshire (4)
We know that this election will be very close. The 2010 census shuffled around the electoral map a bit, giving more votes to traditionally Red states.
It is very early–the election is 16 months away–but the narratives and messaging starts now. The wide success with which President Obama won election in 2008 has predictably eroded given the president’s stands for controversial issues he believes will benefit the American people. His campaign’s ability to highlight his achievements in contrast to Republican efforts since winning control of the House of Representatives in 2010 will prove decisive.
And, of course, we do not know who the Republican candidate will be. Only Mitt Romney is polling ahead of the president in states like Pennsylvania, Florida, New Hampshire and even Colorado. If Rep. Michele Bachmann or Gov. Rick Perry becomes the nominee, will they have similar success in these states versus the president? Each brings an individual personality and set of issues that may not be exactly in line with the idealistic Republican candidate voters have in mind when answering poll questions today.
Expect very great volatility in these analsyes as the months tick away towards November 2012. With the Citizens United decision already influencing this race, money and emotions are about to run high as the country decides who will be their president in 2012.