The similarities between the 2004 presidential race and this year’s contest are striking. In both races, the general election opponent of the incumbent president was from Massachusetts, John Kerry in 2004 and Mitt Romney in 2012. In both elections, the challenger was a very wealthy man. In both contests, the challenger decisively won the first debate.
The greatest similarity between the 2004 and 2008 elections, however, is yet to come: The presidential election of 2012, as in 2004, will be determined by the outcome in Ohio. As in 2004, the candidate who wins Ohio in 2012 will be elected President of the United States.
Before I explain the basis for my assertion, let me first give my current projections regarding the race for the White House, 2012:
SAFE OR LIKELY OBAMA: 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),
SAFE OR LIKELY ROMNEY: 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).
TOSS-UP: 110 Electoral Votes.
Colorado (9), Florida (29), Iowa (6), Nevada (6), New Hampshire (4), North Carolina (15), Ohio (18), Virginia (13), Wisconsin (10)
With regard to the toss-up states, I currently believe that 1) Romney will carry Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Virginia; and 2) Obama will carry Nevada and Wisconsin. This would give Romney 267 electoral votes and Obama 253. In order to be elected president, a candidate must win 270 electoral votes. Accordingly, the candidate who carries Ohio and its 18 electoral votes will win Presidential Election 2012.
There are two factors in Ohio that give Obama a current advantage.
The first is the General Motors bailout. One out of every eight jobs in Ohio is related to the automobile industry, either directly or indirectly. I believe that this bailout will eventually end in disaster, but for right now, it appears to be working and resulting in the retention of automobile industry related jobs.
The second is that Obama appears to have a more extensive ground game in Ohio to implement get-out-the-vote (GOTV) activities. In 2004, it was the George W.Bush campaign in Ohio that had the superior ground game, brilliantly strategized by Karl Rove and executed magnificently by campaign manager Ken Mehlman.
Yet the race in Ohio remains very close, with Romney appearing to have significant momentum. If the election were to take place today, Obama would probably carry Ohio by a very narrow margin. The election is not being held today, however, and with three weeks to go, the outcome in the Buckeye State remains very much in doubt. I will not hazard a prediction at this point as to Ohio.
Stay tuned. To paraphrase Yogi Berra, this election ain’t over ‘til it’s over!
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.