Monday, June 9, 2008

A blue Ohio would put Obama in the White House

If Barack Obama’s election strategy includes trying to flip some decidedly red states – as detailed in this New York Times story today -- he won’t get far enough to make a crucial difference, says electoral expert Stuart Rothenberg. The nut graf: “There will be changes, but don't expect the 2008 presidential map to look wildly different from those of 2000 and 2004.” But the 2008 map wouldn’t have to look wildly different to put Obama in the White House. In 2004 George Bush won four states by a percentage margin of about 2 percent or less – Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico and Ohio. If Obama captures just Ohio from the Republicans – and holds all the states John Kerry won in 2004 – he wins an Electoral College majority, 271 to 266 Conversely, Rothenburg sees McCain having a chance in three states that went Democratic in 2004 – Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. But polling to date shows Obama winning more big battleground states that went Republican in 2004 than McCain would take from the Democrats. Poll averages show Obama winning Colorado, Iowa, and Ohio – 36 Electoral votes – with McCain taking only Michigan – 17 Electoral College votes. The net result, if the election mirrors current polling, would be Obama winning the Electoral College 270 to 267. For what it’s worth, a composite of eights recent polls shows Obama ahead of McCain in the popular vote 47.1 to 44.

Possible wild card: If Obama selects Sen. James Webb as his running mate, that could put Virginia 13 Electoral College votes in play. While Virginia has been reliably Republican in presidential elections since Nixon, shifting demographics (more suburbs, less rural) are mostly helping Democrats. They own the governership and, former Democratic governor Mark Warner is heavily favored to capture the Senate seat being given up by retiring Republican John W. Warner.

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