How Can the Democrats Lose in 2016?

FEB. 6, 2015 — According to the National Journal, the next Democratic nominee should win the Presidency in 2016. The magazine editors are publishing a series of articles that examine the demographic and voting trends of key swing states in the country’s various geographic regions, showing how the most recent patterns benefit the Democrats. But, the analysis fails to tell the entire story.

The articles show that important shifts in such states as Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada are cementing what were reliable Republican entities into the exact opposite status. But, under at least one certain scenario, switching as little as one Democratic state to the GOP would change the projected national outcome … even if the Journal analysis is correct and Democrats continue to carry the aforementioned swing states.

Looking at the early version of the 2016 map, it appears that the eventual Democratic nominee can count on carrying 16 states for a total of 196 Electoral Votes. Conversely, Republicans can reasonably tally 23 states in their column for a base EV total of 179. Adding another 33 votes from the former swing states of Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada brings the adjusted Dem total to 229, or just 41 votes shy of victory.

So, with all of this heading the Democrats’ way, how can they lose? While the trends may be moving decidedly their direction in Virginia and selected Rocky Mountain states, they are far from secure in other places.

If Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, for example, were to win the Republican presidential nomination, his strong electoral track record in the Badger State would likely transform that northern entity to the GOP. And, with no reasonable scenario existing for a Republican victory without Florida, the Sunshine State must return to them for any realistic chance of winning nationally. In fact, Florida is the most important state on the Republican presidential map.

Finally, carrying our tightest GOP win scenario through to conclusion, Ohio and North Carolina must also vote for the eventual Republican candidate. If all of this happens, then switching just the swing state of Iowa, with its six electoral votes, would force the election into a tie. This means the heavily Republican House of Representatives, with each state casting one vote, would determine the presidency. In this current House of Representatives, the GOP controls 35 state delegations; hence, their party’s presidential nominee would prevail under this format.

Though the National Journal article stresses the demographics and population trends as a huge Democratic advantage, they fail to concentrate on Republican successes in many states that seem immediately conceded to the Democratic presidential candidate.

For example, in Michigan and Pennsylvania, two states that have gone the Democratic presidential candidate’s way in every election since Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush swept the country in 1984 and ’88, the GOP has won the last two Michigan gubernatorial elections, swept both houses of the legislature, and claimed a majority in the congressional delegation.

In Pennsylvania, Republicans likewise control both houses of the legislature, the congressional delegation, one US Senate seat, and took the governor’s mansion in 2010 before relinquishing it last November. So, in just these two states that represent 36 combined electoral votes, Republicans should at the very least be competitive in a national election and not immediately in concession mode in big states north of the Mason-Dixon line.

The deeper analysis in places such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Nevada, and Wisconsin suggests that the 2016 election is anything but over, and that a close election, possibly in the guise of the 2000 outcome, could again be looming on our political horizon.

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