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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Tomasky: Electoral College Math Bad News for Romney

Michael Tomasky has an appealingly titled post, “The GOP’s Impending Electoral College Meltdown” up at The Daily Beast, and his analysis of the latest snapshot polls should gladden the hearts of Dems:

…When you look at the likely swing states, it is not right now a close race at all. RCP’s Electoral College map gives Obama 227 electoral votes from states that are solidly or pretty clearly leaning in his direction. It gives Romney just 170. It lists 11 toss-up states: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia…
…Obama leads in nine of the 11 states. Romney leads only in two, and he leads in the two whose mere presence on a list of swing states suggests trouble for him–Arizona and Missouri. Romney’s lead in those states is small (3.2 percent in the former, 3.0 in the latter). Of the nine states in which Obama leads, he is ahead by outside your typical three- or four-point margin of error in four: Colorado (9.5 percent), Nevada (6.7 percent), Pennsylvania (6 percent), and Ohio (5.3 percent)…There appear to be lots of ways for Obama to get to 270 losing either Ohio or Florida. But there appear to be almost no plausible ways for Romney to get to 270 without winning both of them, and one or two major swing states besides, states where he is behind right now.

Even better, adds Tomasky, the GOP’s anti-Latino policies seem almost custom designed to benefit Obama and the Democrats:

…We know all about the demographic changes of recent years, identified most comprehensively by Ruy Teixeira and John Judis. But there’s more to the story than that. Demography didn’t have to be destiny. If the Republican Party of the last few years hadn’t done everything it could possibly imagine do to alienate Latinos, “new-economy” professionals, and young people, the party would have remained competitive in Colorado (which, by the way, doesn’t really seem like much of a swing state to me) and some Great Lakes-Rust Belt states. That party would have easily maintained its historic advantage in Virginia and North Carolina. But the Republicans chose not to be that party. They decided to be the hate-and-anger party, and they veritably shoved states like those I just mentioned into the Democratic column….

All well and good. But Krissah Thompson notes in the Washington Post that there is a serious problem looming for Dems even in Tomasky’s encouraging scenario:

The number of black and Hispanic registered voters has fallen sharply since 2008, posing a serious challenge to President Barack Obama’s campaign in an election that could hinge on the participation of minority voters…This is the first time in nearly four decades that the number of registered Hispanics has dropped significantly.
That figure fell 5 percent nationwide to about 11 million, according to the Census Bureau. But in some politically important swing states, the decline among Hispanics, who are considered critical in the 2012 presidential contest, is much higher: just over 28 percent in New Mexico, for example, and about 10 percent in Florida.
For both Hispanics and blacks, the large decrease is attributed to the ailing economy, which forced many Americans to move in search of work or because of other financial upheaval…”There is the massive job loss and home mortgage foreclosures which disproportionately affected minorities,” said Antonio Gonzalez, president of the William C. Velasquez Institute, a nonpartisan policy group that focuses on Latinos…”When you move, you lose your registration.”

But Romney has another strategy problem that may override all of the obstacles facing the Obama campaign, as Tomasky explains:

…Barring some huge catastrophe, the only way a not-well-liked candidate like Romney can make up five to seven points in expensive-market states is through massive doses of attack ads, both from his campaign and from the various Super PACs, which may spend a combined $600 million or more–solely on negative ads and chiefly in six or eight states. Hate and anger aren’t going anywhere.

If both Tomasky and Thompson are right, it may come down to big money vs. the ground game. In November, the number that may matter more than all of the polling data put together is the number of well-trained GOTV workers Dems are able to mobilize in the big cities of the swing states.

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