Let the 2012 electoral predictions commence! Below are four separate electoral college predictions from some of the best analysts in the business: The Cook Report, RealClearPolitics, The Washington Post’s The Fix blog, and John Ellis’s Ellisblog. I’ll follow those up with my own prediction.
Let’s look at the maps.
RealClearPolitics gives Obama 243 likely + leaning electoral votes (hereafter referred to as “e.v.’s”) and Romney only 170. RCP is the only one of the four maps here to rate Nevada as leaning Democratic rather than a tossup. I’m not sure I see the logic here: Nevada’s unemployment rate is one of the highest in the country (12% as of March ’12) and it has a sizeable Mormon population. I’d say it should at least be ranked a tossup, if not leaning Republican, but we’ll see.
RCP is also the only map to list Missouri as a tossup. The others all put in the leaning or likely Republican column. Considering that Missouri went Republican during the Democrats’ perfect storm in 2008, I’m inclined to agree with the other analysts on this one.
The last thing to note on this map: RCP rates Arizona as a tossup. So does John Ellis, but Cook Political and The Fix both put it in their “leaning Republican” columns. There’s been a lot of debate over whether Arizona’s crackdown on illegal immigration will provide the Democrats with an opportunity in the state. Personally, I don’t think it’ll go blue as the Democrats will rely heavily on a huge Hispanic vote, which I find unlikely to materialize for reasons I list here.
The Cook Report
The Cook Report didn’t have their data in map format, so I made my own on the handy 270towin.com website (where you can fiddle around with the maps yourself), using Cook’s data. Thus, for this map, likely and leaning states have been combined into either straight Republican or Democrat states.
As you can see, likely and leaning Obama states total 227 e.v.’s while Romney states total 210. Cook is the only one to rate New Hampshire “Lean Republican” (the others all rank it a tossup). I think Cook is right on this one: Romney essentially has a home field advantage in NH given its proximity to Massachusetts and his high level of support during the GOP primary earlier this year. Cook also rates North Carolina as “Leaning Republican,” in contrast to The Fix and RealClearPolitics, which rate it as a tossup. I agree with Cook’s assessment; Obama won NC in 2008 by an extremely thin margin and his recent “evolution” on gay marriage likely won’t sit well with a population that voted overwhelmingly to ban gay marriage.
Other states of interest: Cook rates Wisconsin as “Leaning Democratic” (all others as tossup) and he agrees with John Ellis on Pennsylvania being a tossup. Personally, I think that Scott Walker’s recent surge in the polls presages a Republican revival in Wisconsin and that the state should be “Leaning Republican” or a tossup. As for PA, I think it goes blue again as Romney hasn’t performed well among the white working class which he’ll need to overcome the Democrats’ traditional advantage. I think Pennsylvania could go Republican in 2012, just not with Romney at the top of the ticket.
Washington Post’s The Fix
The Fix gives Obama 237 total e.v.’s to Romney’s 191. Frankly, I think this map looks the most accurate of the bunch, except for North Carolina and New Hampshire being a tossups (I think they should be in the “Lean R” column).
Ellis is the only analyst to rank Michigan as a tossup (others “Lean D”) and to put Colorado in the “Lean R” column. Personally, I don’t think either of these is justified. While Romney does have some legacy appeal in Michigan left over from his father’s time as governor, his stance on the auto bailout is unpopular and he performed somewhat below expectations there during the primary. As for Colorado, I think that state is just too close to call; a true tossup.
And now the moment I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for: my own prediction!
I keep most of the same tossup states as the other analysts. However, I give North Carolina to Romney based on the recent gay marriage vote and Obama’s razor-thin margin of victory in ’08. I also give New Hampshire to Romney based on his strong past performance there. I put Wisconsin in the tossup column because of Walker’s strength there. I give Pennsylvania to Obama because I don’t think Romney can gin up enough support among the white working class there to overcome the Democrats’ traditional advantage in the state. Arizona stays red as the expected Hispanic surge once again fails to materialize.
So there you have it! Five different predictions. Which do you think is most accurate?
Henrik Temp is the deputy editor of the Enterprise Blog and editor’s assistant at THE AMERICAN magazine. His twitter handle is @HenrikTemp.