Post-Conventions: Obama Maintains His Electoral College Advantage

This is my first post-conventions Electoral College projection.  As a result of poll data and other political developments during the month of August, 2012, I have shifted to toss-up status the states of Wisconsin, Nevada, New Hampshire, and North Carolina.  I had previously projected Wisconsin, Nevada, and New Hampshire as Obama states and North Carolina as a Romney state.

The candidate who wins 270 or more electoral votes is elected President of the United States.  I currently project Barack Obama as the likely winner of the District of Columbia and the following states, for a total of 237 electoral votes:

 

California (55), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), District of Columbia (3), Hawaii (4) , Illinois (20), Maine(4), Maryland (10) , Massachusetts (11), Michigan (16), Minnesota (10), New York (29), New Jersey (14), New Mexico (5), Oregon (7), Pennsylvania (20), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), Washington (12) 

 

I currently project Mitt Romney as the likely winner of the following states, for a total of 191 electoral votes:  

 

Alabama (9), Alaska (3), Arkansas (6), Arizona (11), Georgia (16), Idaho (4), Indiana (11), Kansas (6), Kentucky (8), Louisiana (8), Mississippi (6), Missouri (10), Montana (3), Nebraska (5), North Dakota (3), Oklahoma (7), South Carolina (9), South Dakota (3), Tennessee (11), Texas (38), Utah (6), West Virginia (5), Wyoming (3).

 

The election of 2012 will be won or lost in the following nine toss-up states, holding a total of 110 electoral votes:

 

Colorado (9), Florida (29), Iowa (6), Nevada (6), New Hampshire (4), North Carolina (15), Ohio (18), Virginia (13), Wisconsin (10)

 

The states I have projected for Obama and Romney, respectively, are solid for each candidate, meaning that neither will be able to win a state I have projected above for the other candidate.  Some of my Republican readers have disputed my depiction of Michigan as a solid Obama state.  Every four years, I hear my fellow Republicans speak optimistically of carrying Michigan.  Forget it.  The GOP has not carried Michigan in any presidential election since 1988, and Mitt Romney will not win Michigan in 2012.  For those who doubt my assertion, please read the following column of election guru Nate Silver in the August 27, 2012 New York Times, “Michigan Isn’t a Tossup”:

http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/28/aug-27-michigan-isnt-a-tossup/

The post-convention polls show an unmistakable net positive bounce for Obama, both in terms of the national election popular vote and his job approval ratings.  Until I see some individual state polls, I cannot determine what the impact of the Obama bounce will be in the toss-up states.  What is clear to me, however, is the “why” of the Obama bounce.

Throughout the summer, the Obama campaign ran commercials in the toss-up states depicting Mitt Romney as an out-of-touch heartless plutocrat who outsourced jobs to foreign lands and maintained off-shore tax free accounts.  The Republicans successfully rebutted  this distorted image at their convention, portraying accurately Mitt Romney as a fine family man who saved the 2002 Winter Olympics, led numerous charitable initiatives, and governed effectively in Massachusetts.  The speeches of both Ann and Mitt Romney were instrumental in this regard.  Romney’s favorables rose, resulting in a small post-convention bounce for the Romney-Ryan ticket.

The Democrats at their convention responded with perhaps the most brilliant convention messaging I have ever seen, resulting in the larger Obama post-convention bounce.  Gone were the ad hominem attacks on Mitt Romney.  Instead, the Democrats communicated a highly effective two-fold message, part contrast, part positive, as follows: 1) The Republicans (George W.Bush) created our current economic mess, and now they want back the presidency because they complain that Obama isn’t cleaning up the Republican mess fast enough (Bill Clinton’s Wednesday night speech); and 2) Obama’s automobile industry bailout not only saved hundreds of thousands of jobs; it also resulted in the growth of manufacturing jobs in America for the first time in many years.

From the standpoints of history and economics, both messages can be disputed, although their political benefit to Barack Obama is unmistakable.

The economic collapse and financial institution meltdown of 2008 had its roots in the decisions of the Clinton administration to recklessly expand Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae loans and to refrain from regulating credit default swaps.  George W. Bush actually tried to rein in Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae; however, he was thwarted in his efforts by the Democratic Congressional leadership, specifically former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut) and Representative Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts).  It doesn’t matter – the collapse happened on Bush’s watch, and from the standpoint of politics, he and the Republicans get the blame.

As for Obama’s automobile industry bailout, it obviously has created a short-term economic benefit; yet it may have only delayed the day of reckoning for General Motors.  Furthermore, there are the unmistakable negative consequences from the bailout for federal revenues and debt.

In his August 21, 2012 Washington Examiner column, “GM goes from bad to worse despite Obama bailout”, Michael Barone noted “The government still owns 500 million shares of GM, 26 percent of the total. It needs to sell them for $53 a share to recover its $49.5 billion bailout. But the stock price is about $20 a share, and the Treasury now estimates that the government will lose more than $25 billion if and when it sells….That’s in addition to the revenue lost when the Obama administration permitted GM to continue to deduct previous losses from current profits, even though such deductions are ordinarily wiped out in bankruptcy proceedings.”

From Obama’s point of view, however, all that matters is the short term political benefit.  Vice President Joe Biden is continuously repeating the message “Osama bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive!”  Regardless of how misleading this message may be, there is no doubt that it is highly politically effective.

The benefit of this message may first be seen in the toss-up state of Ohio, where there appears to be a growing trend towards Obama.  One out of eight Ohio workers are employed in jobs related to the auto industry, and the bailout is highly popular in the Buckeye State.

If as a result of post-convention polls I shift  Ohio from toss-up status to the Obama column, the President will gain in my projections an additional 18 electoral votes for a total of 255.  He will then win reelection if he wins either 1) Florida; 2) North Carolina or 3) Virginia plus one other toss-up state.

I have been a major critic of the Obama administration.  I believe that based upon the incumbent President’s first term, the verdict of history will be that Barack Obama has been a failure as President.  Unfortunately, as a political analyst who does not engage in wishful thinking, I also think that Obama’s chances of reelection grow more positive every day and that he is clearly now the reelection favorite.

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.   

 

  Post-Conventions:  Obama Maintains His Electoral College Advantage