Erin McPike offers a WORTHY ANALYSIS of the challenges facing the Republican and Democratic camps in trying to capture 270 electoral votes for their respective presidential candidates:
When potential electoral values are assigned to the two opposing camps, both sides look to John Kerry’s wins on the 2004 map as a base line for President Obama — and John McCain’s victories in 2008 as a starting point for Mitt Romney. In the minds of the political class, these focal points will always indicate an uphill climb for the challenger.
That is because assuming Obama wins the 19 states (and the District of Columbia) that Kerry did, he will net 246 electoral votes. (That’s five fewer than the 251 those states yielded in 2004, thanks to reallocation following the 2010 census.) McCain notched just 173 electoral votes in 2008. Fast-forward to this year, and the states McCain won translate to 180, which Republican officials assume will all be in the bag for Romney.
Should President Obama carry those 246 electors, winning Florida’s 29 electoral votes alone would get him to 275 and clinch a second term — though the Obama campaign insists that there are dozens of other ways they can also win. Those various pathways rely on states where the president’s team has been building massive organizations and where Obama leads Romney in the polls. Still, winning the 246 “assigned” to him is a big assumption, because it takes as a given that he will carry Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — three economically depressed Rust Belt states Republicans hope to put into play. Nevertheless, even without one of those, the president’s still-larger starting point underscores the daunting task Romney faces as he begins to execute his swing-state battle with the incumbent.
[Republican] officials concede they have a tougher road ahead: Romney would have to peel off not just the southern states of Virginia and North Carolina (which they believe they’re well-positioned to do), but Ohio and Florida as well. Without one of those, they say, they will be forced to take away one of the bigger blue states like Pennsylvania (20), Michigan (16) or Wisconsin (10).