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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Geography Of The 2012 Presidential Election

"These socialist writers look upon people in the same manner that the gardener views his trees. Just as the gardener capriciously shapes the trees into pyramids, parasols, cubes, vases, fans, and other forms, just so does the socialist writer whimsically shape human beings into groups, series, centers, sub-centers, honeycombs, labor-corps, and other variations. And just as the gardener needs axes, pruning hooks, saws, and shears to shape his trees, just so does the socialist writer need the force that he can find only in law to shape human beings. For this purpose, he devises tariff laws, relief laws, and school laws." — Frédéric Bastiat (The Law)

The geographic concentration of much of President Obama's political support in a few large Blue States and urban areas means that he could be defeated for re-election this November even while winning the popular vote. What few seem to have seriously considered so far is how daunting the present shape of the political battlefield actually is for the President on a state-by-state level, and what that means when it comes to using national tracking polls as a metric to guess who would win a Presidential election held on any given day. If you look closely enough at the numbers, it becomes clear that it is both mathematically and practically possible for the right Republican candidate to assemble a majority in the Electoral College while losing the popular vote by as much as 5%.

Let's travel back in time to 2008. Obama won the popular vote with a margin of 7.27%. He won the Electoral College 365-173. In the intervening time, the post-2010 reapportionment of seats in the House of Representatives means that, if the popular vote in 2012 were to be exactly the same, the electoral vote would instead by 359-179 thanks to population shifts over the last decade from Obama states to Republican ones.

In 2008, Obama won the popular vote by about nine and a half million votes. However, roughly 7.2 million of that margin came from huge wins in California, New York, and Illinois — states that he's going to win in pretty much any imaginable scenario. His massive margins in these states distorts the results of national polling by giving Obama a massive stash of surplus voters (equal to about 5.3% of the vote in 2008) who cannot shift a single Electoral Vote. If, instead of looking at the national vote, you look at the margins in swing states it becomes clear that the 2008 result was actually much closer than it looks at first glance.

I have an application on my iPad called the Electoral College. It allows me to play “what if” scenarios on a state by state basis.

I began by using Larry Sabato’s map of how the state by state results would look if the election were held today. Using Sabato’s prediction I come up with 181 electoral votes for the Republican candidate with 13 undecided or swing states. Now let’s look at some of those swing states based on the 2008 results.

A swing of 7,089 votes in North Carolina gives the Republican 196.

118,225 voters in Florida would give that state to the GOP, putting the count at 225. This would be very possible with Marco Rubio on the ticket

It would take only 131,112 votes to give Ohio to the Republicans, putting us at 243 for the Republican

17,264 Virginians makes it 256 for the GOP.

73,281 votes would bring Iowa into the GOP Column and increase the Electoral vote to 262

Missouri was a close call in 2008 with McCain winning by a hair’s breadth margin at 49% to 49%. The “show me state’ should go Republican based on the results of the 2010 congressional election and bring the GOP’s total to 272 enough to elect the GOP candidate.

McCain lost big in New Mexico 57%-42%), but with Susanna Martinez in the governor’s seat she may be able to turn this around and deliver 5 additional votes for the Republican.

Nevada was another big loser for McCain in 2008, but with a Republican guvnor, high unemployment, and its large amount of foreclosures another 6 votes could fall in the GOP column.

These last two states would be good, but are problematic due to the strong Hispanic vote in NM and the influence of SEIU in Nevada.

The encouraging news is that Obama will not have ACORN and others useful idiots working for him this time and he has a record to run on.

In this scenario, by the way, Obama would win with about 8.5 million more votes than the Republican nominee, giving him a victory in the popular vote of 6.57%.

Now, obviously, such a perfectly effective distribution of votes for the Republicans is unlikely even if it is mathematically possible. However, the increasing gap between the deepest of the Blue States and the Red States — Obama is actually polling better in California now than he was in 2008 — makes national polling increasingly irrelevant in a Presidential Election.

In fact, if we look at recent polling in swing states such as Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Colorado, and Pennsylvania — most of which show the President either trailing Republican challengers or ahead but with anemic numbers in the low to mid-40's — and contrast it with national polling showing Obama mostly in the lead in the mid to high 40's it becomes hard to reach any other conclusion than that the result of an election held today would be an election where Obama wins the popular vote but loses the Electoral College.

The big and unasked question, as I see it, is how Obama and his supporters would react to such a defeat. If the President wins the popular vote while losing the Electoral College, will he accept the result and step aside or will he allow his supporters to attempt some sort of extra-Constitutional effort to perpetuate him in office?

I do not mean to suggest that Obama has the ability to install himself as some kind of dictator. I have complete confidence that the United States Military would, rightfully and constitutionally, refuse any such orders. Instead what I am suggesting is that, in the aftermath of a loss where he carried the popular vote, Obama's supporters would take to the streets in an effort to overturn the results via some kind of "people power" movement such as we have seen overseas in Egypt, the Ukraine, and elsewhere in recent years with the aim of either intimidating some electors into changing (or not casting) their votes or forcing the Republican candidate to concede the Presidency.

The 2012 election will be unlike any election we have since 1860, and we know what resulted from that one. I would not put anything past the committed and radical left. The Occupy movement has demonstrated that and they would get plenty of help from the media.

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