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 270towin.com.
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.
|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!
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.