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Thu May 3, 2012, 06:51 AM

The GOP’s Impending Electoral College Meltdown [View all]

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/05/03/michael-tomasky-the-gop-s-impending-electoral-college-meltdown.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+thedailybeast%2Fpolitics+%28The+Daily+Beast+-+Politics%29

Michael Tomasky: The GOP’s Impending Electoral College Meltdown
by Michael Tomasky May 3, 2012 5:45 AM EDT
Only six months till November, and the Electoral College is looking like Barack Obama’s best friend. Has the Republican Party already blown its chances?

snip//

Obama leads in nine of the 11 states. Romney leads only in two, and he leads in the two whose mere presence on a list of swing states suggests trouble for him—Arizona and Missouri. Romney’s lead in those states is small (3.2 percent in the former, 3.0 in the latter). Of the nine states in which Obama leads, he is ahead by outside your typical three- or four-point margin of error in four: Colorado (9.5 percent), Nevada (6.7 percent), Pennsylvania (6 percent), and Ohio (5.3 percent). Obviously it would be premature to say that Obama is certain to win those states. But given these leads, let’s just give him those states’ 53 combined electoral votes for the sake of argument.

As you’ve already figured out, 227 plus 53 equals 280, which means Obama wins (270 needed). Now here’s what’s really interesting about this hypothetical. Look at the list of states Obama does not need to win under this scenario: Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, and Virginia. That’s 63 electoral votes he can give away, from three states (all of them but Iowa) that political journalists are always insisting are crucial to Obama’s hopes. And from four states he carried in 2008. Just think of it. It’s election night. The cable nets call Virginia for Romney. And North Carolina! Obama is doomed, doomed! Then he wins—and in fact, if he manages to eke out Florida, wins easily, even after dropping those two “must-win” states. Put another way: There appear to be lots of ways for Obama to get to 270 losing either Ohio or Florida. But there appear to be almost no plausible ways for Romney to get to 270 without winning both of them, and one or two major swing states besides, states where he is behind right now.

So, two questions: first, how did the electoral map come to favor Democrats? And second, what are the implications for the kind of race we’re going to see?

On the first question, we know all about the demographic changes of recent years, identified most comprehensively by Ruy Teixeira and John Judis. But there’s more to the story than that. Demography didn’t have to be destiny. If the Republican Party of the last few years hadn’t done everything it could possibly imagine do to alienate Latinos, “new-economy” professionals, and young people, the party would have remained competitive in Colorado (which, by the way, doesn’t really seem like much of a swing state to me) and some Great Lakes-Rust Belt states. That party would have easily maintained its historic advantage in Virginia and North Carolina. But the Republicans chose not to be that party. They decided to be the hate-and-anger party, and they veritably shoved states like those I just mentioned into the Democratic column. The GOP message has been: “If you’re gonna let all those funny-talking brown people and wine-sipping brainiacs in your states, then we don’t want you voting for us anyway!”

And as to the kind of campaign we can expect: I’d say the most negative in history. Barring some huge catastrophe, the only way a not-well-liked candidate like Romney can make up five to seven points in expensive-market states is through massive doses of attack ads, both from his campaign and from the various Super PACs, which may spend a combined $600 million or more—solely on negative ads and chiefly in six or eight states. Hate and anger aren’t going anywhere.

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