Monthly Archives: December 2010

Merry Christmas; Happy Holidays

We at the PRIsm Information Network wish you the very best for the holiday season.

We will be back next week with our full complement of reports and services. Thank you for your patronage over the past year. We look forward to an even better 2011.

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Enjoy the holidays!!

Early Redistricting Projections

Now that the new apportionment and population numbers are official, we can begin calculating each party’s chances of prevailing in the redistricting wars. Much of the action will occur in the states that either gained or lost congressional seats in yesterday’s 2010 national apportionment.

• In Texas, with four new seats to add to its delegation, Republicans must have a goal of gaining three of those four in order to send a 26R-10D delegation to Washington.
• It is likely that Florida will split its two new seats between the parties, but Republicans must exit the Sunshine State up 20R-7D.
• New York, losing two seats, also will see a likely outcome of each party being down one seat. That would mean a delegation that’s the mirror image of Florida: 20D-7R.
• Ohio, already at 13R-5D, will lose two seats. A 12R-4D delegation should be the Republican goal, since they control the entire redistricting process.

Democrats should gain the new seats in Nevada and Washington, while making the Republicans absorb the loss in Illinois, Louisiana, and New Jersey. Democrats will feel the pinch of an evaporating seat in Massachusetts, Michigan, and Pennsylvania and potentially Iowa and Missouri. Republicans will gain newly awarded districts in Georgia, South Carolina, Utah and possibly Arizona.

From a Republican perspective, their goal is to lock in the huge number of seats they just won and add approximately five more nationally. Democrats will look to gain a seat or two. Hence, the swing between the parties will be small.

Apportionment: Florida Gains, New York Loses

The Census Bureau released the new state population figures yesterday and confirmed that 12 congressional seats will change states for the coming decade. It had been clear for some time that Texas, Florida, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington were going to gain, and Ohio, New York, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania were going to lose representation. But, the actual apportionment has traditionally been a bit different from the pre-census estimates. Not so in 2010.

A recent Election Data Services forecast precisely the official apportionment. If there was a surprise, it was that Florida gained a second seat and New York lost two. Prior estimates suggested that Oregon was on the cusp of gaining a seat, but that proved not to be the case as their potential 6th district actually placed 442nd, some seven seats away from acceptance. Oregon, California, and Idaho were the only states not to gain in the far west. Idaho, despite a population increase of better than 21%, more than double the national average from 2000, did not come close to gaining a third congressional district.

There was suspense, however, as to whether Missouri or Minnesota would lose the final district. The result is Missouri — as the Show Me State’s 9th district placed 437th, thus limiting them to eight seats for the ensuing decade. Minnesota held its 8th district by about 15,000 people, thus denying North Carolina a new 14th seat. The hypothetical NC-14 was the 436th district, or the next one in line.

The national population increased 9.7% over the decade. The state with the largest percentage growth increase was Nevada at 35.1%, while Michigan is the only place that now has fewer people than it did at the beginning of 2000. Michigan’s real growth rate was a negative 0.6%. The only US non-state entity to decline in population was Puerto Rico, which lost 2.2% of its population over the last ten years.

The top five population gainers are Nevada (35.1%), Arizona (24.6%), Utah (23.8%), Idaho (21.1%), and Texas (20.6%). The five states with the slowest growth rates are Michigan (-0.6%), Rhode Island (0.4%), Louisiana (1.4%), Ohio (1.6%), and New York (2.1%). California, not gaining a seat for the first time in history, had a 10.0% real growth rate. The aforementioned Oregon recorded a 12.0% increase.

The apportionment formula becomes clear when comparing Florida and Delaware. It’s a good example as to why it is easier for the big states to gain and lose seats. The Sunshine State’s rate of growth was 17.6%, but the raw number increase was 2.9 million inhabitants. Hence, the awarding of two additional seats. Delaware saw a population increase of 14.6%, but gained only 114,000 people. Their new population of more than 897,000 is large for one district, but, like Montana’s situation, is much too small for two.

The addition of two districts in Florida probably gives each party a new seat. The GOP, with a hold over the redistricting pen, will likely have a 21R-7D seat ratio goal, though the new redistricting restrictions voters placed upon map drawers may make it difficult for Republicans to take 2/3 of the seats when the statewide vote normally breaks closer to 50/50.

The switch of districts also affects the presidential election. Looking at President Obama’s 2008 winning coalition of states, his total of 365 electoral votes would diminish to 358 under the new apportionment, while the Republican total would grow to 180 if every state were to vote the same way in 2012. This means a net swing of 14 votes for the GOP, equivalent to winning a state the size of New Jersey or Virginia.

Bachmann for Senate?

Given her tops-in-the-House fundraising performance during the 2010 election cycle ($13.2 million raised; $12.8 from individuals, with $1.97 million remaining in her campaign account) and polling showing her easily beating all other potential Minnesota Republican statewide candidates including Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN-6) is now saying that nothing is “off the table” for the 2012 election. Previously she said she was concentrating only on running for re-election. Though the early December Public Policy Polling data shows her to be the favorite of the Minnesota GOP, she and all other Republicans fare poorly against Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D). The Senator, who will be seeking her first re-election, breaks 50% against all potential Republican opponents, posting double-digit leads.

But there is another potential reverberation to Bachmann running for the Senate. If Minnesota loses a congressional district to reapportionment, as may happen in the Census Bureau announcement tomorrow, it would be easy for map-makers to collapse Bachmann’s congressional seat into a neighboring Republican district, thus costing the GOP a seat. Should a court draw the map, a likely scenario since the Democrats will control the governor’s mansion and Republicans the legislature, thus causing a political stalemate, a different option (among many) is to draw the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul into one seat, since it would be a sound legal argument to suggest the region is a community of interest. This would cost the Democrats a seat. So there is much more risk for the GOP than meets the eye should Bachmann take the statewide plunge.

Apportionment Announcement Tomorrow

As we reported last week, the Census Bureau will announce the 2010 population figures tomorrow, telling us how many congressional seats each state will have for the ensuing decade.

As has been covered for several months, the states virtually assured to gain seats are Texas (3 or 4), Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and Utah, while Ohio (-2), Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania appear to be sure losers. It also looks like Florida, South Carolina, and Washington will gain. Among Missouri, Minnesota, and Illinois, it is also a virtual certainty that at least two of these three will lose a seat. One unsubstantiated estimate also put Florida in the mix for gaining a second seat and New York losing a second, but these numbers seem out of context with what was previously known and released. North Carolina is also a potential long shot to gain, as it was in the 2000 census when it was awarded a 13th district.

As with all of the projections, the pre-release estimates are never fully correct. None of the previous calculations included 2010 data, and some of them were completed even before the 2009 population estimates were released. Therefore, uncertainty does exist as to exactly how the full complement of winning and losing states will unfold. The apportionment formula is complicated and state-specific.

The decade’s growth rate is certainly a determining factor for the number of seats apportioned, but that means vastly different raw numbers in each state. For example, a 10% rate of growth means a gain of approximately 9,700 people in Montana, but 3.7 million in California. Adding such a number to the Montana population will not result in an increase in representation, but the same percentage uptick for California very well may. Thus, simply put, it is easier for the bigger states to gain and lose districts than for the smaller ones to move up or down.

The apportionment numbers also affect the presidential race. Most of the swing means that the Democratic nominee, certainly to be President Obama, will have fewer electoral votes in his coalition of states than he did in 2008 because the states that the Democrats typically win are losing representation, and the ones Republicans normally carry are gaining. Just how great the electoral vote count change will be become known tomorrow. We will have a full analysis of the new congressional apportionment on Wednesday.

New Senate Numbers in Wisconsin and Ohio

Public Policy Polling continues their early polling of major Senate races with surveys in Wisconsin and Ohio. Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) must decide whether to seek a fifth term in 2012. He will be 77 at the time of the next election, but the PPP data shows him to be in relatively good political position. In Ohio, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) stands for his first re-election in what figures to be a competitive battle and one of the more important national races for both parties.

The Wisconsin poll (Dec. 10-12; 702 registered voters) pits Sen. Kohl against three of the bigger Republican names in the state regardless of whether or not they have expressed any interest in running. Among former Gov. Tommy Thompson, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI-1), it is Congressman Ryan who fares the best in the early trial runs. He would trail Kohl only 42-48%. Thompson is behind 40-49%, while Kohl polls best against Van Hollen, leading him 51-38%. The senator’s job approval score is 50:43% favorable to unfavorable.

Should Kohl decide to retire, most people believe that defeated Sen. Russ Feingold would be first in line to attempt a comeback. PPP tested him against the same trio of Republicans and found him to be leading them all. His numbers are strikingly similar to Sen. Kohl’s. Interestingly, Feingold’s favorability ratio is exactly the same as Kohl’s: 50:43%.

In Ohio, the incumbent’s numbers aren’t quite as strong as either Sens. Kohl or Feingold. PPP (Dec. 10-12; 510 registered voters) conducted a small-sample poll of the Ohio electorate and tested four Republicans against Sen. Brown. Newly elected Attorney General and former U.S. Senator Mike DeWine fares the best, actually pulling into a tie with Brown at 43%. Newly elected Lt. Governor and former state Auditor Mary Taylor trails only by two points, 38-40%. The new Secretary of State, Jon Husted, is behind 38-43%, and 4th district Rep. Jim Jordan is eight points down at 35-43%.

At this time, it does not appear that DeWine will enter the Senate race, nor does Husted. Earlier this week Jordan indicated he is much more inclined to seek re-election to the House than running for the Senate. Ms. Taylor, on the other hand, may be the GOP’s top option. She has strong support among the Republican Party’s conservative base, which would likely give her the inside track for the 2012 nomination should she choose to run.

Preemptive Redistricting Moves

Next Tuesday, the Census Bureau will release the 2010 state population figures, and we will know then just how many congressional seats each state will possess for the next decade.

Even before we see the numbers, office holders are beginning to make contingency plans in case their state re-map places them in an adverse re-election position. One such man may be Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-IN-2). The congressman was originally elected in 2006, unseating then-incumbent Rep. Chris Chocola (R), and won again easily two years later. This past November, however, produced a much different electoral result as Donnelly barely escaped defeat, beating Republican Jackie Walorski 48-47%, on a margin of just 2,538 votes.

With Republicans controlling the redistricting pen in 2011, Donnelly already is publicly speculating about his future options should the GOP place him in unfriendly political territory. He is letting party leaders know that he would seriously consider a race for governor — the seat will be open because Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) is term-limited — if he deems his re-election prospects to be poor. Many believe that attempting to draw a 7R-2D Hoosier State map is a stretch, hence Donnelly’s rhetoric could be part of a strategic preemptive strike designed to keep his northern Indiana seat intact. This is a great example of the political “game within the game.” Expect many more plays of this type in the coming weeks.

In Minnesota: Klobuchar Strong, Pawlenty Faltering

Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN)

Public Policy Polling continues their early 2012 election cycle polling with two surveys of Minnesota voters. Their conclusions are that first-term Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) is in strong position for re-election; Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN-6) fares best within the state Republican voting base; and outgoing Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) is not as robust among his own party faithful as one might expect, but does lead the presidential pack of candidates even though 3/4 of the likely primary voters prefer another contender.

According to the PPP December 4-5 data (949 registered MN voters), Sen. Klobuchar has majority support against all potential 2012 opponents. Pawlenty fares best against her, but trails 43-53%. Klobuchar has a 14-point lead over former Sen. Norm Coleman, 54-40%; a 17-point advantage when paired against Rep. Bachmann, 56-39%; an 18-point edge over the recently defeated gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer; and enjoys a 52-34% spread over Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN-3). In the early going, it looks like Sen. Klobuchar will not be among the most seriously challenged Democratic incumbents in the next cycle.

PPP’s secondary poll surveyed the Republican electorate. Their small-sample poll (387 MN Republican primary voters, released December 13th) produced some interesting patterns. In testing all potential statewide candidates against Klobuchar, Rep. Bachmann easily does the best, claiming the support of 36% of those questioned. Pawlenty was second, but lagged back at 20%. Coleman followed with only 14%. Newly elected 8th district Rep. Chip Cravaack, who has yet to even take office in the House, actually scored a respectable 7%.

None of those candidates tested, however, have expressed any interest in running for the Senate. Still, if these individuals score as poorly as they do against Klobuchar, then it’s unlikely the GOP will be able to recruit another candidate who would begin in better position.

Though the Minnesota Republican survey is a small-sample poll, it does give us some clear points of reference. First, Bachmann, with her strength among Minnesota conservatives, is a viable contender to win a Minnesota GOP nomination. Second, Gov. Pawlenty, though a winner of two statewide general elections, should be doing better among Minnesota Republicans. If his support here is this weak, then a Pawlenty for President campaign will have to quickly gain strength and momentum, particularly in nearby Iowa, if he is going to be a factor in the national election.

Pew: Public Strongly Favors Tax Bill

Though President Obama is fending off strong political attacks from his own base in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, a new Pew Research Center for the People & Press poll suggests that rank-and-file Democrats strongly support the measure. In fact, their support for the bill is not unlike those who identify themselves as Republicans or Independents.

According to their national survey conducted of 1,011 adults across America over the period of December 9-12, approval of the tax bill compromise receives a 60% approval rating versus just 22% who disapprove. The most notable point coming from the poll is just how consistent the approval mark is across the political party spectrum. Democrats approve of the bill by a 63-25% margin; Republicans favor it by a 62-21% count; and Independents register their support at 60-21%.

However, the most surprising Pew number comes from the self-described liberals. Among the people comprising this cell group, 65% support the Obama-Republican tax package and only 20% oppose the bill. That’s an even better ratio than among conservatives who report a 64-22% support level for the measure.

Indiana Gov. Bayh Won’t Go

Outgoing Senator and former Gov. Evan Bayh (D-IN) announced that he will not run for his old job when it comes open in 2012 because of family considerations. Bayh bid the Senate farewell right before the candidate filing deadline early this year, expressing discontent with the Senate and Congress in general. Until this weekend, however, he had not ruled out again running for Governor. Bayh served as Indiana’s chief executive from 1991-1999 before winning the Senate seat. Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels is ineligible to seek re-election in 2012, as he is midway through his second consecutive term in office.

When the senator announced his retirement, he had more than $13 million in his campaign account. He only contributed about $1 million of that back to the Democratic Party to assist in the failed attempt at electing his would-be successor, Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-IN-8). Former Sen. Dan Coats (R) easily converted the open seat back to the Republican column, winning a 55-40% landslide victory. Deducting other expenses, Bayh still controls $10.2 million in campaign monies.

There also has been speculation that he might take a shot at the White House, with some going so far as to suggest that challenging President Obama in the Democratic primaries next year was a possibility for Mr. Bayh. Though the president is under fire from the left wing of his political base, Bayh is unlikely to be the favorite of those who think Obama has abandoned his liberal principles.

Throughout his career as governor and senator, Bayh consciously positioned himself closer to the center of the Democratic conference. Thus, he has a narrow path from which to run for President in 2012. The political set-up and timing is simply not right for him at this point in time, so few expect him to run. After Mr. Obama leaves office in 2016, assuming he’s re-elected, the political climate will probably look much different, which might create a better opportunity for a Bayh presidential effort.

In other presidential news from the weekend, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he will not be a candidate for national office next year. His “no way, no how” response when asked if he was moving toward running appears to shut the door on any Bloomberg for President effort.

Poll Confirms Michigan Senate Race as Competitive

Public Policy Polling, a very active national survey research firm throughout the final weeks of 2010, is reporting the results of their just-completed Michigan senate poll. The study, conducted over the Dec. 3-6 period with 1,224 registered Michigan voters via automated telephone calls, shows that two-term incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) would be vulnerable to a Republican challenger if the 2012 election were held today.

The person faring best against Sen. Stabenow, outgoing 2nd district Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI-2), pulls into a virtual dead heat when the two are pitted against each other in a hypothetical ballot test. According to the large sample results, Stabenow would lead Hoekstra 45-44%. The congressman gave up his seat to run for governor in 2010, but lost the early August Republican primary to Governor-elect Rick Snyder.

Stabenow, who registers the same relative level of support against virtually all Republican potential candidates, is therefore solidly placed in the “vulnerable” category. When paired with Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI-10), a former two-term Secretary of State, the senator clings to only a 43-41% advantage. She leads soon-to-be-ex Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land by a similar 45-41% count. Only against former Gov. John Engler (R), currently the president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, does Stabenow have some breathing room. Against Engler she leads 49-42%.

No Republican has officially announced for the seat, but polls such as this will quickly increase speculation as to whom may do so. Republicans need a net gain of four seats to wrest the Senate majority away from Democrats, and must protect only 10 states versus the Democrats’ 23 in the 2012 election. Michigan will factor prominently into the GOP’s offensive national strategy and is certainly in the top tier of potential conversion opportunities, particularly when considering the GOP’s strong 2010 vote performance.

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The 2010 Elections are Finally Final

The last two undecided campaigns are now officially over. Republicans Tom Emmer in the Minnesota Governor’s race and Randy Altschuler in the NY-1 congressional contest have ended their post-election ballot counting efforts and conceded to their Democratic opponents. Former Sen. Mark Dayton will now become the 40th governor of Minnesota and Rep. Tim Bishop has successfully won a fifth term in the House. Emmer trailed the statewide Minnesota race by 8,770 votes when the recount began. Once the challenge counting pushed Dayton’s advantage to over 9,000 votes, Emmer saw that the trend would not be reversed. In NY-1, it appears Bishop’s margin of victory will be in the area of 263 votes, making it the closest election in the country.

Nationally, the final electoral results are now complete. In gubernatorial races, Republicans won 23 contests in the November election compared to 13 for the Democrats. Independent Lincoln Chafee won the Rhode Island Governor’s campaign. Overall, Republicans control 29 Governors’ mansions and the Democrats are in 20, with the one Independent. In the House, the GOP officially gains 63 seats, meaning the new body will feature 242 Republicans and 193 Democrats. Republicans won 24 Senate races versus the Democrats’ 13, meaning a net gain of six seats for the minority party and a new 53D-47R split.

A 2012 Senate Snapshot

With 2012 Senate polling results already being released in at least four states, the new election cycle already is poised to begin. Unlike in the last three voting periods, it is the Democrats who must now defend the larger number of seats. In this particular cycle, because the Democrats did so well in the 2006 races, they are forced to defend 70% of the states standing for election; 23 Democratic Senators are up for re-election versus just 10 on the Republican side. This gives the GOP ample opportunity to win enough races to claim the majority.

The presidential election year turnout model is likely to be kinder to the Democrats than the 2010 mid-term voter participation ratio, but even with that advantage the GOP’s chances of gaining a net of four seats to claim an outright majority appears high. In 2010, the Republicans were forced to win 28 of the 37 campaigns in order to reclaim majority status. In 2012, they will only need to win 14 of 33 to do so, meaning a winning percentage of just .424. This obviously represents quite a change.

Let’s first start with the GOP defensive states. Today, of the 10 states they must risk, it appears that only two are vulnerable in a general election: scandal-tainted Nevada Sen. John Ensign, and Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, who must now run for a full six-year term. Ensign likely will face a competitive primary before going onto the general election. Early polling gives Brown a substantial advantage over every potential Democratic opponent.

The Tea Party could again be a factor in certain GOP Senate primaries that may eventually affect the general election, thus potentially putting more seats in play for the Democrats. Sens. Olympia Snowe (ME), Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX), and Orrin Hatch (UT) appear to be in such a category today. Of these three situations, the greatest general election effect will occur in Maine.

On the Democratic side, with 23 seats to defend, it appears that at least nine states begin in competitive status. Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, still feeling the effects of his crafting what is commonly called the “Cornhusker Kick-Back” in exchange for supporting Obamacare, leads the list of vulnerable Democrats. His favorability numbers suggest that several Nebraska Republican candidates could unseat him. Others in the highly vulnerable category include Sens. Jim Webb (VA), Jon Tester (MT), Claire McCaskill (MO), Bill Nelson (FL), Debbie Stabenow (MI), and Sherrod Brown (OH). The latter three, Nelson, Stabenow, and Brown, are in this category because of the way their states performed in 2010, the fact that the presidential election will increase the amount of political activity and awareness in their states, and that much GOP opposition activity is already underway.

Obviously, the 2012 Senate cycle will drastically change, but today’s outlook certainly gives the GOP ample opportunity to achieve their majority status goal.

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To Run or Not to Run

Already, potential candidates are musing publicly about running for higher office in 2012. Since two challengers are officially off and running — Florida state

Florida state Sen. Mike Haridopolos.

Senate President Mike Haridopolos (R) lining up against Sen. Bill Nelson (D), and ex-Missouri state Treasurer Sarah Steelman (R) hoping to qualify in the general election versus Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) — more appear to be making, or at least scheduling, decisions.

In West Virginia, newly elected Sen. Joe Manchin (D) may already have dodged a pair of bullets. The man he defeated in November to fill the late Sen. Robert Byrd’s unexpired term, Republican businessman John Raese, is saying he won’t run again. And Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV-2), clearly the Republicans’ strongest statewide contender, looks to be more interested in a run for Governor than Senator.

In Nevada, Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV-1) says she will decide in early February whether to challenge embattled Sen. John Ensign (R). And finally, defeated Reps. Glenn Nye (D-VA-2), Tom Perriello (D-VA-5), Patrick Murphy (D-PA-8), and Chet Edwards (D-TX-17) all are saying they “haven’t ruled out” a run to re-capture their old seats; likewise for Republican challenger Ilario Pantano, who lost to veteran Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC-7). Each will be looking at a much different district after redistricting, so such talk now is highly premature.

Looking Ahead Towards the 2012 Presidential Map

Even though the 2010 election results aren’t yet finalized, speculation among political pundits about President Obama’s re-election chances already is running rampant.

Whether or not certain Republican candidates can win their party’s nomination and defeat Obama are topics for another day. The main purpose of this report is to simply analyze the mathematics that govern each side’s ability to win the next national election.

Photo: The White House

In 2008, President Obama secured his victory by winning 365 electoral votes (EVs); 270 are required. With reapportionment becoming official before December 31st, the 2012 map will begin to take shape. Right now, though, we know that Obama’s winning coalition of states will yield fewer electoral votes than it did in 2008.

Assuming that Texas gains four congressional seats from reapportionment, and Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina, and Utah all add one, a grand total of eight more electoral votes would be assigned to the group of states that supported ’08 Republican nominee John McCain. Obama states like Ohio (down two), New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, and Iowa look to lose districts, thus meaning another 10 votes would be deducted from the President’s previous total. The only McCain state poised to lose a district is Louisiana. Florida, Nevada, and Washington are Obama states that look to gain representation, so add three EVs back to his total. Therefore, the new Obama state configuration would fall to an apparent total of 358 EVs.

The McCain coalition, on the other hand, would see a net gain of seven votes, giving this group of states a future total of 180 electoral votes. Assuming that pre-apportionment estimates are completely correct, which is unlikely (Oregon is in good position to gain and Missouri might lose, for example), the total swing away from the President when merely considering population shifts will be approximately 14 votes, or the size of a state like Michigan or Georgia.

If this analysis is correct, then the Republicans, in order to unseat Mr. Obama, would have to convert states with an electoral vote value of 90 votes, in addition to winning every previous state they claimed in 2008.

How can this be done? From a Republican perspective, they first must regain the states Obama won that traditionally vote for the GOP nominee. Indiana is priority #1, North Carolina is priority #2. Switching Indiana from blue to red would give the Republicans 11 more votes and take away the same number from the Obama total. An N.C. win is a swing of 30 EVs, thus bringing the EV count down to 332 to 206 and putting the GOP within 64 votes of denying the President a second term.

Next come Florida and Ohio. With Texas (38 electoral votes in the next presidential campaign) being the only large state that the Republicans traditionally carry, Florida and Ohio become central to a GOP win. A Democratic candidate can lose both of these states and still win the election, but it is virtually impossible for a Republican to do so. With Florida and Ohio added to the hypothetical Republican total, the adjusted electoral vote count moves to 286 to 252, still in favor of the Obama coalition. This leaves the generic Republican candidate 18 EVs away from winning.

While that can be done by taking Pennsylvania or the president’s home state of Illinois, neither seems likely today, especially the latter. Therefore, the Republicans must add multiple states. Two small swing states that could return to the GOP fold are New Hampshire (4 EVs) and Nevada (6 EVs).

If all the above happens, then the Republican nominee would go over the top by winning just one of the following states: Michigan, Virginia, Wisconsin, or Colorado. Another option, if this latest group of states all remain loyal to Obama, is to carry Iowa and New Mexico (11 total EV’s). These two places are the only ones that have consistently flipped between the two presidential party nominees in the 21st century and must be considered competitive for both the eventual 2012 Democratic and Republican presidential nominees.

Though much will happen to define campaign 2012, the mathematical formula leading to victory will remain as described above.