After watching the closeness of this race through the prism of 2000 and 2004, I wanted to know if America would experience another bout of occasional (voting) irregularity. Although those two experiences have led to better preemptive awareness and greater push for early voting, you never know what might happen when Citizens Unite. So I crunch the numbers in effort to sleep at night.
Off the bat, I put the states I assume Obama keeps at: CA, CT, DC, DE, HI, IL, MA, MD, ME(all four), MI, MN, NJ, NM, NY, OR, PA, RI, VT, WA, WI --- for a total starting point of 247.
I give Rombot: AL, AK, AR, AZ, GA, ID, IN, KS, KY, LA, MO, MS, MT, ND, NE (all five), OK, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, WV, WY --- for a total starting point of 191. I’m going to concede Florida and North Carolina, putting Rombot at 235. We can debate the last two, of course, but those are my bets.
So we begin at 247-235, advantage President Obama. This leaves six states in play: Ohio (18), Virginia (13), Colorado (9), Iowa (6), Nevada (6) and New Hampshire (4).
Current 538 data has probabilities at:
Ohio – 74/26 Obama
Virginia – 60/40 Obama
Colorado – 58/42 Obama
Iowa – 72/28 Obama
Nevada – 80/20 Obama
New Hampshire – 70/30 Obama
Let’s play with those six states…
• If Obama wins Ohio AND Virginia, then game over because he’s at 278 without CO/IA/NV/NH.
• If Obama wins Ohio but loses Virginia, then he needs to take only Colorado, Iowa OR Nevada. (Taking New Hampshire only would unleash 269-269 hell and give John a Boehner.)
• If Obama loses Ohio but wins Virginia, then he needs to take any two of Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire.
• If Obama loses Ohio AND Virginia, he needs all four states to squeak out 272.
That’s our worst case. Although I consider losing Ohio unlikely at this point, funny things tend to happen. Thankfully, early voting erases nine hour long lines in the rain, but it makes me a little nervous to read any story about the companies that own electronic voting machines. So let’s say it’s not impossible that Obama could lose Ohio and Virginia. It seems probable that he will carry Nevada, Iowa and New Hampshire. That potentially puts the country at the mercy of Colorado. Hang onto your chad.
Hopefully, Ohio falls the way it should and all of this is moot (thank you very much, Nevada…and a special shout out to the GOP’s highly effective Latino outreach program). At the end of the day, I take great comfort in the fact that President Obama has multiple paths to reelection. For Romney to claim the same requires some Ryanesque number manipulation. Not gonna happen.