"Arithmetic!" It was the signature line of President Clinton's speech to the DNC a month ago as he explained what the great secret formula was to balancing the budget. Democrats got a kick out of it, deriding Republicans for not knowing basic math.
And yet, it seems within the past few days, due to a few lousy polls and a poor debate performance by the President, a few critics from the left need a lesson in remedial math, as they fear the election is absolutely doomed. Or conversely, excuses are being made for a bad debate or polls that look skewed.
Chill, people. See below the fold for why.
Let's get back to the basics: no matter what the pundits say, no matter how much the polls vary, one only needs to look at the map and realize that there are really only six true swing states in this race, and they are the ones that will decide the election: Virginia, Ohio, Florida, Iowa, Colorado and Nevada. Go to 538.com if you need a refresher.
Those are the ones that are close enough to be considered true swing states (Wisconsin and New Hampshire border on "swingy", but until polls actually show a true shift in some way, they are in the D column right now...same goes for North Carolina, but for the R column).
Alright, the map as it stands with lean/sure Obama vs. lean/sure Romney, without those swing states is 251-206 in favor of the President. This means that in order for Romney to win the election, he must win 1. Florida and 2. at least 3 other swing states to win. If Romney loses Florida, the election is over. If he wins Florida, he still has to 60% of the remaining swing states in the right combination to win. Even if Romney won the three biggest swing states outright (Florida, Ohio and Virginia), he'd still need help. If Obama wins the three smallest swing states (Nevada, Colorado, and Iowa), and only those states, he wins.
Even you put Wisconsin and New Hampshire in the mix, if the President wins Florida, he'd only need one more state of the remaining 7 swing states to win. In a lot of ways, Florida is a lynchpin for the President. Win it, and the election is over. Lose it, and it gives Romney a chance, but only a small chance.
If we are going to mock the Republican ignorance of math, at the very least, we shouldn't crawl and hide at a few bad poll numbers to know that Romney still needs a heck of a lot of help to get to 270. And his path is still the same as it was months ago...a hell of a lot harder than the President's. For those that like arithmetic...with only six swing states as listed above, the President has 9 possible winning combinations to Romney's four, with one tie scenario. Add Wisconsin and New Hampshire to the mix, and the number of winning combinations is the President's 26 to Romney's 19, with 4 tie combinations. Add North Carolina to the mix, and the President has 39 winning combinations to Romney's 27 (5 ties). The math tells us...the way the map is right now, the President has the advantage no matter what.
So ignore the blathering of media talking about a "changed race". It's "changed" in the sense it is tightening a bit (and really, you have to go back to 1996 to find a race that didn't tighten up in October), but basic math remains the same...you need 270 to win, and it is far easier for Obama to get than for Romney to get.
What that means is vigilence in turning out our vote from now until Election Day. But it doesn't mean whimpering or cowering because the media refuses to acknowledge arithmetic.