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Electoral College may put Obama in catbird seat

Posted: August 28, 2012 3:02 p.m.
Updated: August 29, 2012 5:00 a.m.

The closer the presidential campaign gets to the November general election, the more the race becomes a numbers game. Looking at previous results and surveying current polls, the general consensus is that the 2012 campaign, like most elections in recent memory, will come down to only a select handful of “swing states.”

The growing importance of battleground states is the direct result of the electoral map design. Devised in 1787 to give smaller states more significance in federal elections, the plan’s purpose has diminished greatly over time.

As it stands now, President Barack Obama is vulnerable in the nationwide polls, although his Republican opponent Mitt Romney hasn’t gained a solid footing either. Both seem to hover around the 50 percent mark with each fluctuating up or down depending on the week.

History shows that Obama should keep both his fingers and his toes crossed, hoping that luck would get him elected to a second term.

No president since Franklin Roosevelt has won reelection with unemployment at more than 7.2 percent. Today, the rate continues to hover over 8 percent and will likely stay around the same when November comes around. While it may look as if the president is primed to lose, his standing in the Electoral College seems quite lofty.

In order to win the presidency, Obama or Romney will have to secure 270 electoral votes.

While the electricity around the president has certainly tapered off since first being elected in 2008, there’s still a buzz out there. Obama and his team know how to connect with certain blocks of voters, particularly youth, and will be able to use that to their advantage leading up to the election.

Romney, on the other hand, has never generated such enthusiasm. With the economy being so sour, it never seemed that he had to. If he could convince Americans that he would be the “CEO in Chief” and would steer the economy in the right direction, he would win the presidency. The road to victory so far though has been an uphill battle. Obama seemingly still has the support in the states that he needs.

In 2008, Obama won 28 states plus the District of Columbia. In doing so, he won nine states that the Democratic ticket of John Kerry and John Edwards failed to pick up in 2004.

Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia switched allegiances that year, voting for Bush eight years ago, while voting for Obama in 2008.

Through the Electoral College layout, the Democratic Party likely already has 88 electoral votes heading into November. The president can easily rack up the blue state strong holds on the West Coast with Washington, Oregon and California, and clean up on the East Coast with New York, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland as well Washington, D.C.

If he keeps Michigan, Minnesota and Illinois, which actually haven’t voted for the Republican candidate in 20 years, he’ll only need to win three of the so-called swing states -- Pennsylvania, New Mexico, and Florida.

Fortunately for team Obama, Pennsylvania also hasn’t gone to the GOP since 1992 and early indicators say the Democrats will again pick it up this year.

New Mexico and Florida will be trickier, but appealing to Hispanic voters and seniors will certainly help.  

The road for Romney seems a lot bumpier. He could actually take eight of nine swing states, but if he loses Florida, Obama still squeaks by and is elected to a second term.

Accordingly, each candidate may want to hire a few extra mathematicians to come on board, but as it stands now, the numbers look to be in the president’s favor.

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