Posts Tagged ‘John Cassidy’

Obama’s Firewall

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Sometimes I lag a little and someone writes the article I wanted to write. This Sunday was one of those days, when I awoke to John Cassidy’s article in the New Yorker. So I am writing the original post I wanted to write and stealing Cassidy’s graphic (above). Without any further ado…

It’s hard to overstate the damage Barack Obama sustained in the aftermath of his no show debate performance a few weeks ago. He basically ceded all of his post convention bounce and then some. Romney now has narrow but real leads in North Carolina, Florida and Virginia and has pulled even in Colorado. There is some evidence that the race has begun to stabilize, but it’s too early to speculate on whether Obama will be able to roll back those gains.

Still, amidst the bad news is a ray of sunshine for the president: For now at least, he has been able to maintain what amounts t0 a firewall in three to four states that give him a lead in the the Electoral College. Let’s assume that the President can’t count on North Carolina, Florida, Virginia or Colorado, but give him Pennslyvania. In this scenario, the most likely path to 270 for the President is through the states of Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and/or Nevada.

The lynchpin of this firewall is Ohio, where President Obama has maintained a solid lead over Mitt Romney for the last year. In the few weeks after the first debate, Mitt Romney has made inroads on the seven point deficit he faced, but President Obama still holds a 2% lead in the Real Clear Politics average.

In traditionally Democratic Wisconsin, Obama holds a lead that is closer to 3%.  If Obama can win both Ohio and Wisconsin, he needs 6 more Electoral College votes, which he can get from either Nevada or Iowa, two states in which he currently leads by 3% and 2.5% respectively. In this scenario, New Hampshire is gravy for Obama, but if Romney is somehow able to swing Wisconsin, the president needs Nevada, Iowa and New Hampshire (which is currently a dead heat).

I think my electoral map looks pretty close to Cassidy’s. I had previously assumed that Nevada and Colorado would end up in Obama’s column. Both states polled extremely close in 2010′s Senate races, but both bucked the national tide and re-elected Democratic incumbents mostly on the strength of Latino and women voters.  Colorado has leaned more toward Romney in recent polling, but can still go either way. Assuming that it does go Romney’s way, I’d feel more confident in Nevada than in Iowa to provide Obama’s winning advantage. This is, after all, the state where Harry Reid greatly outperformed his final poll results in 2010 after he was all but left for dead. Iowa’s record has been more mixed, voting for Gore in 2000, for Bush in 2004 and for Obama by a large margin in 2008, but I feel pretty good about Iowa as well.

If Ohio is breached, Obama’s math gets much more difficult, but he can still pull it off if he sweeps Colorado and Nevada in the West, keeps Iowa in his column and adds New Hampshire.

Bottom line: Obama still has more paths to 270 than Romney does, but he can’t afford any further erosion.