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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Battleground Snapshot Gives Slight Edge to Obama

David Lauter has has an update on the presidential race in the battleground states in the L.A. Times. Here’s Lauter’s take on ‘done deal’ states:

President Obama still holds leads along the West Coast, in much of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions and in parts of the upper Midwest, giving him a likely base of 217 electoral votes out of the 270 needed to win, according to the latest Real Clear Politics compilation of state-by-state polls. A Republican can count on virtually all of the South, the Plains states and conservative parts of the Interior West, giving the eventual GOP candidate a likely base of 181.

Here’s where Lauter sees the election being decided:

Fewer than a dozen states continue to appear to be clear battlegrounds….The states in between – the ones where the election almost certainly will be decided – include Colorado and Nevada in the West, where Obama will need a strong Latino turnout to win; Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania, where a key issue will be his ability to appeal to blue-collar voters; North Carolina and Virginia, where Democrats hope a combination of a strong black turnout and support among college-educated whites will do the trick; and Florida, a perennial tossup…In two states where Obama was doing poorly last year, Missouri and New Hampshire, some recent polls have shown the race a tossup, potentially adding those to the list.

In sum, Lauter argues:

…Assuming the list of solid states remains as is, a Republican candidate will have to pick up 89 of the tossup electoral votes to win, while Obama would have to pick up 53. Most analysts assume Obama will need to hold Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, which he carried in 2008, and which together have 30 electoral votes. He would then have several possible ways to put together the additional 23 needed for victory.

So, in this snapshot, Obama has a 36 electoral vote edge in the contest for 270 e.v.’s., according to the Real Clear Politics compilation. That’s not to say he has any edge in the polls in the purple states, just that the blue states have a lead at this particular political moment.
Perhaps the most worrisome calculation in the RCP analysis is the classification of PA as “toss-up” It’s disturbing because PA should be “leans Obama” by now. He probably will not get re-elected without it. If the ‘toss-up” designation is an outlier, or overstated, on the other hand, then Obama is even closer to 272.
As always with snapshots, this could change abruptly. But it’s not a bad snapshot for an incumbent president seeking a 2nd term in February of an election year. And if favorable economic trends continue, the e.v. edge could grow. The value of such snapshots to a campaign is that they show where a reallocation of resources might get good results. The safest bet is that the ad wars in these states will soon escalate dramatically.

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