Politics and Public Opinion

5 electoral college predictions for 2012

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!

My Map

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.

21 thoughts on “5 electoral college predictions for 2012

  1. Sure New Hampshirites root for the Red Sox, but that doesn’t mean Romney has a home field advantage. The Ron Paul signs may still be in the ground up north, but the state isn’t sure what to make of this slick on the outside, vacillating on the inside, Mormon.

    Politics at the state house have gotten heated which means the folks sitting at the political extremes are going to be more fired up than usual (Nazi Salutes, possible bans on two left-handed individuals getting married, on top of an unusual upswing in newsworthy violence). Does it mean the Republicans are going to show up en masse? Are Democrats and Libertarians going to toss up a granite middle finger?

    Dukakis thought he had a “home field advantage” in New Hampshire, but there is more than just a seat-belt law change between Storrow Drive and the Kanc, more than just a political boarder between Flatlanders and Cowhampshirites.

  2. Mr. Temp, I agree your map is most accurate, although I would consider New Hampshire a toss-up.

    Romney (the fiscal type of conservative and almost-hometown boy) SHOULD have a lot of appeal in New Hampshire. The fact that he didn’t corner the state just by walking into the nomination room is pretty telling. NH is even more lukewarm than usual.

  3. Way to early but, how about this – using your map, Obama will win WI, demos always do, DNC giving no $ to recall, don’t want to get involved. Obama way ahead in VA, sub DC solid D. CO Obama is leading.
    Let say that’s all he wins: tie 269-269 Election goes to House which is GOP, Romney wins. but I think NH goes Obama giving him game, set, match.
    But, in the end, keeping with the tennis theme, Obama wins in 3rd set tie-breaker – Obama wins NH.
    Main reason – Obama wil win because people like him, shows in polls, just like all prior winners, Obama, Bush, Clinton, but who knows, economy is slowly recovering and Obama gets high marks in National Security, getting bin Laden was no small thing.
    Game changer – military action in Iran or putting Hillary on ticket would mean EC landslide.

    • You think starting military action in Iran would help Obama? I admit I haven’t really thought about this much, but my initial reaction is that it would hurt him, especially given his emphasis on extracting us from foreign wars and refocusing defense on the Asian theater.

      NH is definitely the most controversial pick of mine based on the comments so far. But Romney’s style of Republicanism (moderate conservatism) is pretty popular in NH, he dominated the primary there, and he has a good ground game remaining from the primaries and his time as governor of MA.

  4. If you click on the states at the RCP electoral college map website, it gives you poll results. In some of the states you rank as R the polls explain why RCP talks them as D or tossup. NH, as I recall, was one of those states. I also do not agree with your assessment of WI – Walker is a highly polarizing figure, and the polls swing wildly back and forth R vs. D. I don’t think that state can be called either way at this time, and maybe not until election day.

    • Thanks for your comment! Unfortunately, polls conducted this early in the election cycle are generally not very predictive. For example, in 1980 Carter was leading by decent to large margins in most polls, and ended up losing in a landslide.

      As for WI, you’ll note that I actually end up rating it a tossup–a rating which it seems like you should agree with since you say “I don’t think that state can be called either way at this time.”

  5. Nevada voted for Harry Reid. If they’ll re-elect that steaming load of smoking dung, then they’ll vote to re-elect the Unicorn Prince.

    • I had dinner with Harry Reid back in 2000 while I was in Peace Corps. He was sincerely interested in hearing about what was happening on the ground in the developing world. He listened the entire hour and asked great questions. Not every Senator at the dinner was like that. I’m sure you disagree with some of his issue positions, but I wouldn’t call him a pile of dung. He seemed like a pretty sharp guy.

    • They voted for Reid only because the GOP nominated the easiest candidate possible to beat in the horrible Sharon Angle. That won’t work to the Dem advantage this time. Also, you can’t disregard the high Mormon population in Nevada which should go heavily for Romney.

  6. Its too early to take these polls very seriously. But it sure is fun!.

    I disagree with a couple of your states.

    The biggest being New Hampshire. Romney may have a “home field advantage’, but that maybe a negative. Take Mass, both recent Suffolk poll (59/34 Obama) and Rasmussen poll (56/35 Obama) show a state that knows Romney well and reject him.

    The recent PPP New Hampshire poll shows Obama ahead 53/41. Now people may reject PPP as favoring Democrates. If so, how do you write-off the Mass Rasmussen poll, which supports the PPP New Hampshire number. Romney does worse in Mass than New Hampshire, because Mass voters know Romney better.

    I also disagree with Nevada and Virginia. The recent polls show Obama leading in Virginia by 6 points and at 50% and Rasmussen has Obama’s lead in Nevada growing to 8 points at 52/44.

    Given New Hampshire (4 EV), Nevada (6 EV) and Virginia (13 EV), Obama adds 23 EV to the 237 EV you have for a total of 261 EV. Remember, recent May 2012 Rasmussen polling is included.

    President Obama would need only one of the following four states to reach 270 (CO, WI, OH, FL).

    I suspect Rove and Koch SuperPac money will attempt to move the polling numbers in these four states (plus a few others) in the direction of Romney with a Shock and Awe blitz this fall. But watch the Obama ground game.

    Remember in any war, its boots on the ground, air power can only do so much.

    • NH and Mass are two completely different states. Mass is heavily democratic, having voted for exactlt one GOP candidiate since the depression (Reagan), and was the only state that McGovern won in 1972 (excl. DC). NH is one of the more independent states when in comes to presidential elections giving its EVs to Obama, Bush, Gore, Clinton, Bush Sr., Reagan, and Ford, with most of the elections being fairly close. Given NH’s history, I feel it should stay red for now. I will agree with you on NV, although recent high unemployment could weigh against Obama. Va had not supported a Dem since, until Obama wrestled it away last year. Polls show a very tight race, but if voters do not flock to the polls like in ’08, this state will revert to its old redness. I think WI and IA will stay in the Obama camp.

      That gives Obama 259 EVs, and winning either OH (best shot), FL, or VA would give him the nod. Otherwise, we would need to win both CO and NH (least likely). Of course, we are still 5 months away, and anything could happen. One major event could boost or drop a candidates standing between now and Nov.

  7. Myself, I’ll be able to go to bed fairly early that Tuesday if Obama carries NH (voted D four out of five of the most recent presidential elections) and FL, which now looks more likely to go for Obama since “Mr.” Romney has settled on Ryan. Even with that state trying to kick everyone who might vote Democrat off the voter rolls and keep the rest from voting.

  8. We have a president That was school by a religious zealot and a self professed marxist. (which he admits to in his own bio) Who broke 90% of his campaign promises, Borrows money in a failed stimulus plan that makes our childrens, childrens, children indebted to a country that cares little for us. He forces a healthCare bill on us that not only has been proven in other countries not to work but insult certain religions right to make thier own decisions.Then he proceeds to insult some of our greatest allies.
    Then sells guns to the Mexican Cartel and a law enforcement agent dies (at least one we know of)which he covers up, Who then arms a terrorist organization (thru an executive order I might add), and service men and diplomats die. Then sends service men in harms way with rubber bullets? Now this same guy is asking for four more years because he isnt done yet.
    His own party acts like he has saved the world. Please bear with me I am trying to understand, is it the health care, the socialist values, or his lack of spine in a crisis? What has positive action has he taken. He whines about congress blocking him but that didnt stop him from numerous executive orders so why even worry about congress I am surprise he hasnt abolished congress.

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