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Romney’s electoral path to White House is narrow

The most important thing to remember when assessing a candidate’s chances for winning the U.S. presidency is that the race is a state-by-state proposition. National polls don’t mean that much. The objective is to carry enough states to amass at least 270 electoral votes.

Need I remind you that Al Gore carried the nation as a whole by more than 543,000 votes in the 2000 election but still lost to George W. Bush?

The next thing to remember is that it’s already pretty safe to say who’s going to win the electoral votes in certain states in this year’s election. There’s no way, for example, that Barack Obama is going to carry Idaho or Utah. And there’s no way that Mitt Romney is going to carry Massachusetts or Hawaii.

In light of these and other factors, Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post is out with a TENTATIVE ASSESSMENT of where the Obama-Romney race stands at this point:

A detailed analysis of Romney’s various paths to the 270 electoral votes he would need to claim the presidency suggests he has a ceiling of somewhere right around 290 electoral votes.

While Romney’s team would absolutely take a 290-electoral-vote victory, that means he has only 20 electoral votes to play with — a paper-thin margin for error.

Romney’s relatively low electoral-vote ceiling isn’t unique to him. No Republican presidential nominee has received more than 300 electoral votes in more than two decades. (Vice President George H.W. Bush won 426 electoral votes in his 1988 victory over Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis.)

By contrast, Bill Clinton in 1992 (370 electoral votes) and 1996 (379) as well as Obama in 2008 (365) soared well beyond the 300-electoral-vote marker.

Much of that is attributable to the fact that Democrats have near-certain wins in population (and, therefore, electoral-vote) behemoths such as California (55 electoral voters), New York (29) and Illinois (20).

The only major electoral-vote treasure trove that is reliably Republican at the moment is Texas, with its 38 electoral votes. So while George W. Bush won 30 states in 2000 and 31 states in 2004, he never came close to cresting the 300-electoral-vote mark in either race.

The only major electoral-vote treasure trove that is reliably Republican at the moment is Texas, with its 38 electoral votes. So while George W. Bush won 30 states in 2000 and 31 states in 2004, he never came close to cresting the 300-electoral-vote mark in either race.

 

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