Saturday, February 18, 2012

Electoral College Scenarios

Thought it would be a good time to test some Electoral College scenarios that will be adjusted a great deal as 2012 goes forward.

Full disclaimer - although many Americans would approve of doing away with the Electoral College, the Prof supports retaining this archaic, flawed, and yet uniquely American institution.  In fact, unless the US Constitution is amended it is here to stay.  Besides it's so much fun running all of these maps...

All of the color coded maps are generated from and are courtesy of

Below is a map of the states generally thought to be safe for either President Obama (in blue) or his eventual Republican opponent (in red). This is based upon the past electoral history of each state and current polling.

Red and Blue States
As you can see, the President can count on 196 electoral votes and the Republicans (assuming they nominate a mainstream candidate) can count on 181 electoral votes.  This leaves 161 outstanding. BTW electoral votes are henceforth to be referred to as EV's as I am too damn impatient to keep typing "electoral votes"!

Now there is room for disagreement on this map, especially from partisans and those with outlandish thoughts that President Obama may contest Texas or a Republican could take Connecticut.  Both are highly unlikely and until they become likely based upon evidence not fantasy they will stay in their respective blue and red. 

However an argument can be made that AZ is a possible Democratic pickup with its ever-increasing Hispanic voting population.  I don't see any indications of that as of yet, but this map is a base and as the campaign evolves it will become clearer as to where some of these states will actually lean.

For some historical perspective here are the EC maps for the two most recent elections.


2004 was a very close election with the swing states splitting fairly evenly.  FL, OH, MO, NM, NV all went to Bush giving him 286 EV.  The swing states of MI, PA, WI, and NH were in Kerry's column for a total of 252 EV.  Well 251 actually, there was a faithless elctor in MN who cast their vote for John  Reilly Edwards...


In contrast, 2008 is a wipe out with the Democrats capturing all but one swing state (MO) along with IN and NC, historically relatively safe Republican states.  Obama garnered 365 EV (including one from NB where the EV is split based on congressional districts) and McCain ended up with 173 - about as poorly as a candidate can do these days.

 Below are a few of the possible scenarios that we may see in 2012.

Close Election - Obama Victory

The scenario on the left shows a close presidential election with President Obama prevailing 281-257.  However, switch just one state - Virginia and its 13 EV, and you have a razor thin 270-268 victory for the Republican candidate.  In a close election every vote does count, at least in a swing state (sorry my Bay State Republican friends, you can't help out Mitt!)

Solid Obama Victory

Of course if the economy improves in the eyes of the voters and the eventual Republican nominee is battered due to the divisive primary season, the map may look more like this...

Solid Republican Victory

But if the economy goes back into recession, war drums in the Middle East cause gas to go to over $5 a gallon, and the Republican Party is unified the electoral map may look more like more like this.

Republican Heartland, Democratic Coasts

This is one possible snapshot in which the Republicans successfully appeal to socially conservative rural "fly-over country" picking up states such as PA and MI. The Democrats counter by appealing to wealthier and more culturally liberal coastal interests thus adding states like VA and FL to their total.

And to finish this off we have a real fun-filled time if the final map appears as below!

Tie 269-269

As the year goes on there will be more maps with predictions based on real data.  Today's material was mostly educated conjecture and fun - the President's 2012 challenger is not even settled yet.


The Prof

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