Sunday, December 7, 2008

First Glimpse: 2012

Okay, I know Obama hasn't even taken office yet, but since it is a relatively slow news period (if you don't count the economic bad news every day and confirmation of Obama appointments that we already knew about), I thought we'd look at the 2012 breakdown.
State of the States
The first map above shows a breakdown of the states by projected battleground status in 2012. Let me explain what I did. Since Obama won the national popular vote by over 7%, it is necessary to normalize for what the map might look like in a closer election. Therefore, we have designated as follows: Dark Red States
(States that were 20% or more pro-GOP than the nation)
Idaho, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Utah, Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Kentucky, Kansas, Tennessee, Mississippi and West Virginia

These states will go Democratic in 2012 -- if -- well, if hell freezes over.

Of course, it is worth noting that it wasn't long ago that Indiana and Virginia would've fit this definition and on the flip side, it was just back in 1996 that Bill Clinton was carrying states like Arkansas, Louisiana and West Virginia. Funny how things change.
Red States
(States that were 10% or more pro-GOP than the nation)
Texas, South Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Arizona, Georgia

These states would go Democratic only in a landslide.

Of course, I (incorrectly) picked North Dakota for Obama this time around and Arizona might have been closer where McCain not from there.
Light Red States
(States won by McCain that don't fit the other two categories)
Montana, Missouri

These states could go Democratic in a decisive win, but probably would not be deciders in a close election. Missouri was obviously extremely close this year and Montana wasn't far off either.

(States won by Obama but by less than he won nationally)
North Carolina, Indiana, Florida, Ohio, Virginia

Expect these states to all be hotly contested in 2012. They could well swing the outcome.

Light Blue States (States won by Obama by more than he won nationally but by 10% or less)
Colorado, New Hampshire, Iowa, Minnesota

Expect these to be fought over in 2012. A Republican challenger would need to pick up some EV's here in order to win.
Blue States
(States won by Obama by >10% and <20%) style="color: rgb(0, 0, 153);">Deep Blue States
Delaware, Connecticut, Maryland, California, Illinois, New York, Massachussetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, Hawaii, District of Columbia

Not going GOP anytime soon. Would need a Reagan or Nixon-style blowout to pick these up.

Census 2010 A major event that will influence the 2012 elections is the impact of the 2010 census. Population changes will impact congressional apportionment, which in turn will impact the number of electoral votes each state has. While we can't be sure until the census is taken, Census Bureau estimates give us a reasonable idea as to the changes that are likely. The second map shows the impacts.
Losing 2 Electoral Votes
New York and Ohio

The northeast and the rust belt take a hit.

Losing 1 Electoral Vote
Massachussetts, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska

The northeast and rust belt hit as is the midwest.
Gaining 1 Electoral Vote
California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Georgia

The west continues its strong growth and Atlanta-metro continues to sprawl
Gaining 2 Electoral Votes

Hurricanes don't scare away the growth in Miami and Tampa.
Gaining 3 Electoral Votes

You don't mess with Texas, which has been picking up EV's like crazy the last two censuses. Dallas/Ft.Worth, Houston booming.

In total -- Deep Blue states lose 3 electoral votes, Blue states stay even, Light Blue states lose 1 ev, Toss-ups are even, Light Red states lose 1 ev, Red states pick-up 5 ev's and Deep Red states stay even.

So it's -4 for blue states of all shades and +4 for red states of all shades. Edge GOP.
What It All Means
Post 2010 census, the EV's breakdown this way:
Deep Blue -- 150 EV's
Blue -- 95 EV's
Light Blue -- 29 EV's
Toss-ups -- 86 EV's
Light Red -- 13 EV's
Red -- 78 EV's
Deep Red -- 87 EV's

So the Dem's will come in to 2012 with 245 EV's pretty solidly in their corner, the GOP 165. To win, the Dem's must just hold the light blue states, which would give them 274 EV's in an even national election. The GOP get to only 178 EV's with the light red states and would need all the tossups plus 5 EV's from the light blue column.

Structurally, the advantage is Democratic going in. But not by a lot -- if the proportions from 2008 held, a 2% popular vote win would swing Colorado and New Hampshire and give the GOP 278 EV's.
2012 Candidates
So, who's in the queue for a 2012 run?

Barack Obama -- pretty easy no brainer here
If Obama is alive and interested, it is incredibly unlikely that he would face a serious primary challenge. It is rare for a sitting President to have a serious challenge (Ted Kennedy taking on Jimmy Carter is the most recent one I can recall unless you count Pat Buchannan's run against the first Bush) and no Democrat wants to be the person who tried to take down the first black President.

If Obama for some reason is unavailable (death, illness or non-interest) than Hillary Clinton is the instant front-runner. Other rising stars include Sen. Jim Webb and Gov. Tom Kaine in Virginia and key members of Obama's cabinet such as Bill Richardson and Janet Napolitano. I guess you have to consider VP Joe Biden as well, but I can't see him holding up topping the ticket -- they practically had to shove him in a box for all his gaffes running for VP.

Sarah Palin -- say what you will, but the Alaska Gov is the most interesting thing going in the GOP.
Newt Gingrich -- I don't know how seriously to take him, but he's trying to make a comeback and is the one guy left associated with a successful Republican brand and fresh Republican ideas.
Tim Pawlenty -- Minnesota Gov a true rising GOP star -- but will anybody know who he is?
Mitt Romney -- the most articulate guy in the GOP, many feel would've but a stronger fight up that McCain. If a black guy can win, certainly a mormon can contend, right?
Mike Huckabee -- the surprise rock star of 2008 may make a return appearence. Probably too radical on social issues to get the nod, but you never know.

It is unlikely the GOP has a Barack Obama lurking in the wings. The GOP has a much stronger tradition of nominating the "next guy in line" than the DEMs -- think George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, John McCain. Of course George W. Bush bucked that trend, but you could hardly say he came out of nowhere, holding the most known Republican name in national politics.

The next guy in line theory would give the advantage to Romney, who has certainly paid his dues. But it's still a long way off -- maybe the next "guy" is really VP rock star candidate Palin. Don't underestimate her, she will be prepped and articulate when she returns to the national stage.

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