EDITORIAL: Obama’s electoral lock

Election math is adding up to a win for Romney

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The Obama campaign has had to deal with a rash of bad news lately. A souring economy combined with a series of gaffes and missteps has made the president look weak and defensive. Poll numbers are down and anxiety is rising in some Democratic quarters.

Fear not, others counsel. The Electoral College will save the day. A number of analyses show that even with public opinion evenly divided between the two major candidates, the Democrats’ advantage in the electoral vote count makes victory in November probable if not inevitable for the current occupant of the White House.

Many models show President Obama with a likely base of 252 electoral votes out of the 270 needed to win. This includes the West coast, all the states northeast of Maryland except for New Hampshire, and seven other states in the Great Lakes region (Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota) the west (Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada) plus Hawaii. The Republican base in the South and West is around 191. This leaves 95 tossup electoral votes of which Mr. Obama needs only 18.

However, those 18 will be hard to get. Either Ohio or Florida alone would push Mr. Obama over the top, but neither state is likely to go Democratic given current trends. North Carolina, worth 15 votes, was initially supposed to play a key role in the Obama strategy. If the Tar Heel State could be kept in the Democratic column, it was thought that victory would be practically impossible for the Republicans. The Democratic National Convention was set in Charlotte for this reason.

This strategy is foundering. The North Carolina Democratic Party is self-destructing in the wake of a same-sex sexual-harassment scandal and cover-up at the highest levels. Party Chairman David Parker, who had agreed to resign his post, engineered the party’s executive committee to reject his resignation, and he is staying on the job. This move has generated significant bad blood in the party, which cannot help Mr. Obama with the looming election. Further troubles were caused last week when the state’s voters approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. This came a day before Mr. Obama stated his personal belief in homosexual “marriage,” and there have been calls from liberal extremists to move the convention out of the state. North Carolina looks like a lost cause.

The key state in the election may be the Keystone State. Pennsylvania commands 20 electoral votes and in most models is solidly in the Obama column. Losing Pennsylvania would be fatal to the campaign. There would be no realistic way to make up those 20 votes and gain the additional 18 needed for victory. Most polls show Mr. Obama with a comfortable lead, but the last statewide contests went well for the GOP. Republican Pat Toomey edged out Democratic candidate Joe Sestak 51 percent to 49 percent in the U.S. Senate race, and Republican Tom Corbett easily bested Democrat Dan Onorato 55 percent to 45 percent to win the governor’s mansion. With the economy slowing and payrolls flat in Pennsylvania, the Obama campaign may find that their electoral lock is about to be picked.

The Washington Times

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