Apparently, I am no better than the rest of the traditional press. Just yesterday, I wrote the following:
The best Romney can hope for, and this is a very legitimate possibility, is that the media will treat the nomination contest as a non-event from this point forward. That would allow him to train all of his attention on Barack Obama, and try to frame the race as a general election contest from this point forward.So, to what subject am I devoting not just my analysis after the jump today, but also an entire piece this weekend? Romney as a general election candidate.
Oh, the horror...
GOP PRIMARY POLLING:
NATIONAL (Gallup Tracking): Romney 38, Santorum 27, Gingrich 14, Paul 9GENERAL ELECTION TRIAL HEATS:
CONNECTICUT (Quinnipiac): Romney 42, Santorum 19, Gingrich 13, Paul 9
LOUISIANA (Rasmussen): Santorum 43, Romney 31, Gingrich 16, Paul 5
OREGON (SurveyUSA): Romney 38, Santorum 31, Gingrich 14, Paul 9
NATIONAL (PPP): Obama d. Paul (46-43); Obama d. Santorum (48-45); Obama d. Romney (48-44); Obama d. Gingrich (50-42)Today's data, as has been the case for most of the recent numbers, paints a picture of Mitt Romney being the guy for the GOP. At least, someday he'll be the guy. But what about November? A few thoughts beyond the fold.
NATIONAL (Rasmussen Tracking): Obama d. Romney (47-44); Obama d. Santorum (49-41)
"SWING STATES"* (Purple Strategies): Obama d. Romney (48-44); Obama d. Santorum (50-42)
CONNECTICUT (Quinnipiac): Obama d. Romney (53-37); Obama d. Santorum (55-35)
NEW HAMPSHIRE (American Research Group): Obama d. Romney (48-41); Obama d. Santorum (48-37)
OREGON (SurveyUSA): Obama d. Paul (48-39); Obama d. Santorum (49-40); Obama d. Romney (50-39); Obama d. Gingrich (54-34)
VIRGINIA (Rasmussen): Obama d. Romney (51-42); Obama d. Santorum (53-39)
(*) "Swing States" defined as Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
So, assuming that Mitt Romney eventually limps and stumbles his way to the Republican nomination, how does he stand for November?
Let's start with a stipulation: by definition, he should start in an incrementally better position, in the Electoral College, than John McCain had in 2008. The reason, as you can see here, is that reapportionment has shifted a total of six electoral votes into the GOP column. Therefore, even if the breakdown by states was identical to 2008, the Obama victory would shift from 365-173 to 359-179.
Also, though this is exceptionally debatable, let's toss another dozen electoral votes to Mitt Romney. Let's give him the lone electoral vote Barack Obama snagged in Nebraska, and let's also hand over the biggest Obama upset special in 2008: Indiana. There haven't been many polls in either state, but what little polling there has been in Indiana has leaned GOP, and the polls on Nebraska's Omaha-based 2nd district has been mixed. So, to be conservative, let's throw all 12 electoral votes into the GOP column, decreasing the Obama edge to 347-191.
After that, however, is where it gets tricky for the GOP. Name a state beyond that which meets the following two characteristics: (1) it was an Obama 2008 state; (2) it is a state where Mitt Romney has led in the majority of the 2012 polling there.
This is the math exercise I will be embarking on before Sunday, when my extensive piece on this race will appear here at Daily Kos. But my immediate guess is this: the GOP needs an additional 79 electoral votes to forge a coalition that will elect Mitt Romney. I am going to say with total confidence that there are not states comprising 79 electoral votes which have consistently sided with the GOP in this past year.
For just one example, take the commonwealth of Virginia, which was polled today by the House of Ras. Not only can we no longer call the GOP a betting favorite in Virginia, it is difficult after the last three polls to even say that the state is a toss-up right now. Rasmussen had the Obama lead at nine. Quinnipiac also had the Obama lead at nine. NBC/Marist, memorably, had that race at a 17-point Obama lead earlier this month. It's pretty hard to throw those 13 electoral votes into the GOP column, barring a serious shift in voter preferences.
Take even the House of Ras on this subject. If, as they have posited in the past few weeks, Obama leads in Ohio, Nevada, Florida, and Virginia, how does the GOP make it to 270? And that's Rasmussen!
A lot can change in eight months, needless to say. But it is hard for me to take any analyst seriously right now who doesn't make the president the betting favorite based on what we're seeing right now. And I'll have the numbers to prove it, come Sunday.