- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 3, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Barack Obama wins historic second term!” Get ready; you may be reading that headline a year from now.

Granted, the macro indicators don’t look good for President Obama. Unemployment is over 9 percent and not expected to decline dramatically. Economic growth is anemic. Federal budget deficits are through the roof, and most voters think the country has veered into a ditch. Mr. Obama’s Gallup weekly public-approval rating is lower than those for every postwar president except Jimmy Carter. The poll also shows the incumbent losing to any generic unnamed Republican opponent by eight points. The Obama team is already touting its candidate as the underdog, thinking it will be easier to manage expectations with a “lead from behind” campaign.

Republicans who think the election is in the bag are in for a shock. The electoral map is not as one-sided as national polls might suggest. Mr. Obama can still count on a strong electoral-vote base and will be competitive in enough battleground states to be able to pull off a win. It may not even be that close.

Changes to the electoral map from the 2010 reapportionment transfer a net of six electoral votes from Democratic core areas to Republican safe states, most dramatically Texas’ gain of four. But strong bicoastal support for Mr. Obama will give him a base of 16 states and the District of Columbia, totaling 206 electoral votes. Republicans can count on capturing the 22 states won by John McCain in 2008, which now total 179. If Mr. Obama can add to his base the six states and one Maine district he won in 2008 by a margin of 9 percent or more, that pushes his tally to 263. That leaves just six states as battlegrounds: Colorado, Virginia, Ohio, Florida, Indiana and North Carolina. Republicans would have to win all six of those states to win the White House. Mr. Obama would only have to pick off one.

Conventional wisdom tends to downplay Ohio, Florida and especially Indiana as being decisive battlegrounds and focuses on the remaining three. Mr. Obama won Colorado by almost 9 percent in 2008, and in 2010 its voters elected Gov. John Hickenlooper and re-elected of Sen. Michael Bennet, both Democrats. Republicans, however, picked up two congressional seats in the state in 2010 and hold a 1 percent statewide registration edge. In Virginia, which Mr. Obama won by more than 6 percent in 2008, Republicans handily won the gubernatorial race in 2009 and gained three congressional seats in 2010. This argues against the Old Dominion as the key battleground. Mr. Obama won North Carolina by a fraction of a percent in 2008, but it’s the only Southern state with a Democratic edge in its House delegation and the only one of five Southern states that maintained a Democratic congressional majority through the 2010 election. It is the site of next year’s Democratic convention and also has a Democratic governor, Bev Perdue, who courted controversy recently by saying the 2012 congressional elections should be suspended.

Some states in the prospective Obama column may not be solid, or even likely. In 2010, Pennsylvanians elected a Republican governor, gave Republicans majorities in both state houses and flipped five House seats to the GOP. But if the Obama camp lost Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes but won Florida’s 29 votes, it still would win the election by this model without taking any of the other five battleground states.

The likelihood of a close race needs to foster unity among those who want change in 2012. If the opposition to Mr. Obama divides because Tea Partyers or others think being ideologically pure is more important than winning, they will guarantee an Obama second term, with all its grim implications for America.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide