This year is going to see all sorts of cant published by all sorts of so called experts about the presidential election. Watch our MSM wheel out tired old liberal hacks from universities who will pour scorn on the Republicans for being unable to connect with the real world, despite controlling congress, and forgetting that Europe has no electoral college votes. Or that Mitt Romney is out of touch or boring or just a dud candidate.
Then there will be the rabid right wingers who will go on about Obama being a socialist for his health care reforms and soft on terror for not torturing people. The happy people at the NRA will bash away at Obama forgetting he is the best gun salesman ever.
There will be minor scandals and silliness as there are with all elections. These will give our media more opportunity to ask opinions of the same tired old liberal hacks opposing the right at every turn, but will have little outcome on the election.
To avoid the cant readers should focus on what really matters. Winning 270 electoral college votes. That is all that matters. Here is the best analysis so far:
Messina laid out publicly the ways that advantage gives Obama an upper hand when it comes to the Electoral College: four mathematical scenarios by which he could get to 270 while underperforming 2008. (A fifth scenario involved him expanding the playing field, about which more in a moment.) The safe presumption underlying each is that Obama holds the nineteen states plus the District of Columbia that John Kerry won in 2004—which, recall, did not include Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, or Virginia, all of which Obama carried in 2008, giving the president a base of 246 electoral votes. There’s the western path: Obama holds Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Iowa for a total of 272. There’s the midwestern path: Obama holds Ohio and Iowa (270). There’s the southern path: Obama holds North Carolina and Virginia (274). And there’s the Florida path, in which Obama simply again takes the Sunshine State (275).
I ask Messina if all four avenues are still open. “Absolutely,” he replies. “The West path is completely operative. The Midwest is there; I believe that we’ll carry Ohio and Iowa. We lead in Virginia and North Carolina today; so that pathway’s there. We are tied in Florida; so that pathway’s there.”
Messina and I were talking a few days before Obama’s gay-marriage decision, which, because of its impact in Iowa and North Carolina, would leave his people feeling more pessimistic about both the midwestern and southern paths. (And because of the foreclosure crisis and other economic factors, they are worried about Florida, too.) In truth, the most promising of all the routes to 270 is the western one, because of the dominant lead Obama possesses over Romney with Hispanics. Indeed, if you factor in New Mexico, which the president nabbed in 2008 and is considered safe this time, and Virginia, which has a sizable Latino population, a relatively strong economy, and polls consistently showing Obama ahead, he can hit 270 without winning Iowa, Florida, Ohio, New Hampshire, or North Carolina.
This is an amazing fact—and one that throws into stark relief the converse difficulties Romney will have in reaching the magic number. The dauntingness begins with his initial hurdle to surmount: clawing back at least six states Obama won last go-round. Almost all of Romney’s 270 scenarios revolve around a strategy outlined by Karl Rove and dubbed “3-2-1,” in which the GOP reclaims three of the traditionally red states snatched away by Obama (Indiana, North Carolina, and Virginia), wins the two perennial mega swing states (Florida and Ohio), and then snags one more from among those up for grabs.
A senior Obama campaign official scoffs at the notion that Romney could pull off such a feat. “To get there,” he says, “they’ve got to take away either Pennsylvania or Michigan, and they can’t do either one of them. Michigan is a motherfucking joke, to think they can do that, because of what he’s done on the auto stuff. And in Pennsylvania, we have a 900,000-person registration advantage. John Kerry had 250,000; we had 900,000 more Democrats than Republicans on the first day.”
As for the western states, Messina believes Romney’s problems with Hispanics are insoluble, although he, like everyone else on Team Obama, anticipates a vicious ad barrage aimed at depressing Latino turnout. “I expect to see what I’ve seen in the primaries, which is their super-PACs spending an impressive amount of money completely negative,” he tells me. “I expect us to counter that the way Harry Reid did [in his 2010 reelection battle]—with a full discussion of the issues and a huge ground game.”