The polls show that a majority of the American electorate perceives the administration of Barack Obama as a failed presidency. This is particularly true with regard to the economy. I doubt very much that anything will happen between now and Election Day that would boost Obama’s weak approval numbers.
Normally, the presidential election of 2012 would be a slam dunk for the GOP. The polls show, however, that Mitt Romney has huge personal unfavorability ratings. Plain and simple, Mitt Romney is viewed by a majority of the electorate as an out-of-touch plutocrat in a time of economic distress. I doubt that this perception will change between now and Election Day.
So the presidential election of 2012 can well be described as “a race to the bottom.” For both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, the poll numbers are ugly indeed.
Yet since I made my first state-by-state assessment of the election in my April 16 column, there has been a significant change in the Electoral College math which definitely improves Obama’s prospects. I base my Electoral College projections both on the polls and my knowledge of the politics of the state in question.
Specifically, Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes), which I had previously classified as a toss-up state, is now clearly in the Obama column. While I have moved Colorado (9 electoral votes) from the Obama column into the toss-up category, I have also moved Virginia (13 electoral votes) and New Hampshire (4 electoral votes) from the Romney column into toss-up status.
The following is my current Electoral College projection.
I predict that Mitt Romney will carry without difficulty all of the states that John McCain won in 2008, for a total of 180 electoral votes. These states are as follows:
Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming.
I also predict that Mitt Romney will win the following three states that Barack Obama won in 2008, for an additional 55 electoral votes:
Florida, Indiana, North Carolina.
A word about Florida: Some of my readers questioned my placement of the Sunshine State in the Romney column, rather than in the toss-up category. Obama, however, has had consistently high disapproval numbers in Florida which have actually worsened recently. I have no doubt that Romney will win Florida.
This brings Romney’s total to 235 electoral votes.
Barack Obama will win the following states, all of which he won in 2008, for a total of 259 electoral votes:
California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin.
That leaves the following states in the toss-up category, for a total of 44 electoral votes:
Colorado (9), New Hampshire (4), Ohio (18), Virginia (13).
In order for Mitt Romney to win the 270 electoral votes needed to achieve an Electoral College victory, he must win BOTH Ohio and Virginia AND also either Colorado or New Hampshire. This is not an easy task.
The issue of same sex marriage may help Mitt Romney in both Ohio and Virginia. I cautiously use the word “may” rather than “will”.
In 2004, the issue of same sex marriage was critical to George W. Bush’s hair’s breadth victory in Ohio, the state which gave him his narrow Electoral College victory over John Kerry. There was a gay marriage ban initiative on the ballot in the Buckeye State that year, which passed overwhelmingly. It is difficult to predict what impact the same sex marriage issue will have in Ohio and Virginia in 2012.
In any event, we basically have a four-state presidential election. While Obama remains the favorite, the issue is far from settled. In the words of the late, venerated New York Yankees broadcaster, Mel Allen, “we shall see what we shall see.”
Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush. Region 2 EPA consists of the states of New York and New Jersey, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and eight federally recognized Indian nations. Under former New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman, he served as Executive Director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission. He currently serves on the political science faculty of Monmouth University.