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Milligan Hay - Iowa d:^)
Veteran Advisor

By 2012, Only Rubble May Remain From The Obama Landslide Of '08



As earthshaking as they were, last month's election results could be just a tremor compared with the quake that could take place in 2012. No clearer picture can be seen of the effect of this year's jolt than in the presidential electoral map.


Suddenly 2008 seems much more removed than just two years. Obama won then by the largest margin of any Democratic presidential candidate since 1964. Still, his popular-vote margin of victory was just six percentage points.


The distribution of those six points on the electoral-vote map turned his victory into a landslide — Obama winning 365 electoral votes to McCain's 173.


The 2010 election shows how quickly Obama's electoral-vote advantage could disappear in 2012. Senate races are good proxies for a presidential race. High-profile and statewide, these races center on national issues — the same issues a presidential candidate would face in a particular state.


Illinois' Senate race shows how far Democratic fortunes have fallen in two years. Obama carried his home state by 25 percentage points in 2008. This November, the Republican running for Obama's old Senate seat won by two percentage points.


Granted, Obama's name was not on Illinois' ballot this time, and two percentage points are not 25. It is too simplistic to substitute the 2010 Senate results for the 2008 vote. So let's take a more conservative approach. Let us subtract the 2010 Senate percentages from the same states' 2008 presidential percentages.


Thirty-six states had Senate races this November. In only six did the Democrats' vote percentage improve or even stay the same. And in only one state, West Virginia, did Democrats turn a negative 2008 percentage (-13%) into a positive 2010 one (+10%). In 30 states, Democrats saw either their positive 2008 percentage diminish or their negative 2008 percentage increase.


In six of those 30 states (Florida, Ohio, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Iowa and Indiana), Democrats' positive 2008 presidential percentage was flipped to negative by their poor 2010 percentage. Those states had a combined 84 electoral votes in 2008. Without those six, Obama would have garnered only 281 electoral votes in 2008 — just 11 more than the total needed to win the presidency.


What about the 14 states that didn't have senatorial races this November? Gubernatorial races also give insight into a state's political mood. The gubernatorial contests in these 14 states were very similar to the 2010 Senate races in 36 states.


Four of the 14 did not elect a governor this year, but three already have Republican governors (Virginia, New Jersey and Mississippi) and the fourth, Montana, is a state Obama lost in 2008.


Of the remaining 10 gubernatorial races, eight saw their Democrat vote percentages fall from Obama's 2008 levels.


Maine and Michigan saw Republicans win 2010 governorships with percentages that turned Obama's 2008 margin negative. Together Maine (4) and Michigan (17) accounted for 21 electoral votes in 2008.


Subtracting those electoral votes from our earlier total, Obama's electoral-vote total would fall to 260 — 10 short of the total needed to win the presidency.


Admittedly, this math still seems to leave Obama close to the electoral vote total needed for re-election. But the question becomes: Where does he obtain the missing votes?


November 2010's effect did not just eliminate or reduce Democratic 2008 advantages; it also widened those for Republican. The states Obama lost in 2008, but would now need to get to 270, have moved further from his grasp.


These calculations leave Obama with just 18 states in his re-election column — not even two-thirds of his 2008 landslide total. This might seem to shortchange the president in some cases, but it also keeps some questionable states in his column too.


Neither Virginia nor New Jersey, for instance, is included in Obama's total, despite his carrying them in 2008 (though both elected GOP governors just last year). Combined, they account for 28 electoral votes.


Obama's 18 states still include Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, however, despite the fact that Republicans won the Senate seat and governorship in each and picked up a combined nine House seats there in 2010.


Together, those two states accounted for 31 electoral votes in 2008. So on balance, Obama's potential 2012 total might be inflated under our methodology.


Obama's '08 electoral vote total was incredible for a Democrat. But the '10 electoral trend was unmistakable.


The 2012 question for Obama now becomes: Is it also unstoppable? If it is, he'll become the fourth president in the last seven to lose in a bid for four more years.


Despite having promised change in 2008, this is unlikely to be the kind he anticipated delivering.


• Young served in the Treasury Department and the Office of Management and Budget from 2001 to 2004 and as a congressional staff member from 1987 to 2000.



























2 Replies
BA Deere
Senior Contributor

Re: By 2012, Only Rubble May Remain From The Obama Landslide Of '08

Hey Craig, I only hope we can recover from the damage that he`s already committed in less than 2 yrs. Our work is certainly cut out for us.

Milligan Hay - Iowa d:^)
Veteran Advisor

Re: Yes

@BA Deere wrote:

Hey Craig, I only hope we can recover from the damage that he`s already committed in less than 2 yrs. Our work is certainly cut out for us.

Yes....the work is enormous....but the American People have squashed other tyrants throughout our history....and we will find a way to do it again.