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If the Presidential Election Were Held Today

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With the help of the ever-useful 270towin.com, here is the map I’ve constructed based on the latest polling data:

If this were indeed the result of the election in November, Mitt Romney would (narrowly) become the 45th president of the United States. At least 270 Electoral College votes are needed to win, and this scenario has Romney capturing 278 to Obama’s 260.

A few things are worth pointing out:

  • The above map does not have President Obama carrying a single state that he lost in 2008. That is due to the simple fact that Obama is not really competitive in any of the states that he lost to McCain in the last election. Oh, I’m sure his campaign will throw a few dollars at Missouri, Arizona, and Montana. But none of them is going to turn blue. Obama is wholly on defense.
  • A few states that Obama won in 2008 are not likely to be particularly competitive this time around. Indiana, for instance. North Carolina, despite being the state hosting the DNC in September, looks to be pretty solidly in Mitt’s column (especially after Obama’s recent endorsement of homosexual marriage, which voters in the Tar Heel state rejected by a margin of 61-39 just a month ago). And Florida won’t be close if Romney chooses Senator Marco Rubio as his running mate, which many political observers suspect he will do.
  • There are a number of states that are too close to call (Wisconsin, Ohio, Colorado, Iowa, Virginia, Nevada, and possibly Michigan). You’ve either got different polls showing completely different results, or you’ve got multiple polls showing a race that is essentially tied. And then there are a couple states with recent polls showing Romney surprisingly within striking distance; Oregon and Maine, for example.
  • Predicting how these states will ultimately vote is obviously quite tricky.The great caveat to this “prediction” is that it isn’t really a prediction at all. This is simply my opinion of how the election would turn out if it were held today; but it is not being held today. We are still nearly five months away from election day, and a lot of things will be happening in the weeks and months ahead that could fundamentally alter the dynamics of the race. Who will Romney’s running mate be? Will Obama stick with Biden, or dump him for Hillary? Will the economy go into a double-dip recession? Who will win the debates? What sort of gaffes will be committed by the candidates? Will Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson get a significant number of votes, and if so, which major party candidate will that hurt more? And so forth. Expect a lot more drama before the voters get to decide whether or not to reelect Obama!
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About RJ

  • roger

    your map is just not in sync with the latest polling

  • RJ, I didn’t say it was biased. I observed that it could be misleading to uninformed persons (read: 90% of the electorate) who just like to look at the pretty pictures.

    Is there a pill you can take to turn off the sarcasm every once in a while?

  • RJ

    26 –

    My 2008 map was admittedly sort of wishcasting as opposed to forecasting. My 2004 map, however, was quite accurate. And this map is simply based on recent polls. FYI: States where the polls are close and the incumbent is below 50% tend to vote for the challenger, historically.

    But, as I stated in the article, things will change between now and election day. This isn’t my prediction for November; this is what the likely outcome of the election would be if it was being held in mid-to-late June. (Which it isn’t.)

  • RJ

    25 –

    So. Electoral College maps that have been used for decades are biased and “misleading” because Republicans tend to win a lot of the larger states. Gotcha. Maybe Congressional Democrats should push a “fairness doctrine” for cartographers so that Rhode Island can be made to appear bigger and Texas can be shrunk.

  • Zingzing

    But clav, it makes all the same hopeful presumptions rj’s 2008 article did. It’s not analysis, it’s… Well, it’s just rj.

  • Never thought of Obama taking on Hil as a running mate, but it’s an nice idea, then again, what would that do for her chances to run in 2016?

    Michigan is fairly disgruntled with their Republican Rick these days, so I don’t know if they would be so eager to choose Romney. Anything is possible.

    I have to say I do think Obama is in beg trouble.

  • Costello

    It’s a misguided analysis because if the election was held “today”, they would have started competing much earlier. Is RJ gonna spam this article with links to other sites until November?

  • Clav

    To all of you criticizing on the basis of past “predictions” by this author:

    Note that the title of this article reads, “If the Presidential Election Were Held Today…

    …Which, of course, means this is not a prediction; it’s an analysis of current circumstances.

  • Zingzing

    You know, this is remarkably similar to your 2008 prediction, where you had McCain winning every single contested state. And then Glenn said something about diebold in comment #2. Obviously this “best of all possible outcomes” idea of yours didn’t pan out last time… In fact, it went about as bad as it could, yeah? This sniffs of not what you really think will happen, but what you hope will happen. Just like 2008. And didn’t Dave write something equally foolish?

  • I know, Clav, and I can also magnify my screen if I want to. I’ve been spoiled by technology: I expected the map to be clickable and interactive…

    The colours are actually misleading because an uninformed person glancing at the map would be led to expect a Romney landslide, which I don’t think any clued-in observer (not even Archie, probably) is predicting. In reality, of course, the mainly conservative midwestern and western states are huge but sparsely populated, whereas those fiddly little liberal ones in the northeast are tiny but crowded.

  • Clav


    Yes, you have a map, but it’s rather tiny and my eyesight is not what it once was.

    As editor/publisher of the piece, I made the decision to reduce the size of the map for aesthetic reasons, figuring that old farts like me could use a magnifying glass if necessary, but, in any case, the colors tell the story.

  • Arch, a presidential election and a mid-term congressional election protest vote are two very different animals.

    Also, since you can’t possibly talk to everyone in New Hampshire and particularly since you don’t seem like the sort of bloke who would want to spend too much time hanging out with liberal Hampshireites, I have a feeling your assessment of the mood of the state’s electorate may be more than a little skewed.

  • Zingzing

    How then, Archie, did they win those seats in 2010 after the whipping they got in 2008? And what are their approval ratings like now? A mere 6 months after they took office, it seems nh was already taking a pretty dim view of their new GOP reps.

  • Arch Conservative

    I live in NH. I don’t give a fuck what the polls you’re looking at say dread.

    I watched in 2010 as the GOP beat the Dems like a rented mule here in NH. After that polls showing Obama winning the state by 10 seem silly.

  • RJ

    14 –

    I would have assumed that as well, but recent polls indicate that Obama is winning NH by a sizable margin right now. He’s over 50%, albeit barely. But maybe that will change…

    15 –

    Recent polls of likely voters show Romney with a slight lead in OH. The last three polls from Virginia show the race tied, Obama up 3, and Obama up 5. Obama is below 50% in all three polls. My thinking on Virginia is that almost 20% of the state’s voters are black (a demographic group that will support Obama with about 95% of their votes), and northern Virginia is full of federal government employees who tend to vote Democrat. So Virginia should be close, but I could see Obama winning it narrowly.

  • NH will go for Romney not Obama this fall.

    Unlikely, Arch. Obama has maintained a healthy lead over Rombles in the Granite State and the most recent poll has him up by over 10 points.

    Any other predictions you’d like to share with us? You know how we’ve all been blown away by the devastating accuracy with which you’ve forecast election results in the past.

  • Baronius

    I can understand why campaigns are looking at particular states already, but this far out there’s still a lot of potential shift from raising your overall (national average) support. Planning by state, while necessary, encourages the perception of a red/blue divide in the country, which is bad for all of us.

    An shift of 4% in the national polls would raise half a dozen states from marginal to solid, and put a few states leaning toward the rival back into play. It would also mean 2% more potential donors for you, 2% fewer for him.

    I’ve noticed something this year. It’s probably always been true, but I just figured it out. If the President has a good week on foreign policy, polls show a greater percentage of people trust him on foreign policy, the economy, the debt, whatever. We’re not subtle thinkers, us voters. A change in perception has ripple effects.

    It may seem wise for the campaigns to feud over Ohio, for example. But a candidate’s appearance in Mississippi or California gets national coverage, and all the ads go up on the internet. And events in non-swing states can force the various PAC’s and party organizations to shift money around. So there’s no such thing as a wasted event.

    In short, 270 thinking has its place, but campaigns would be well-advised to look beyond it until October.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    RJ –

    6 – Yawn. So sorry that you’ve got a problem with free speech.

    1 – The original Boston Tea Party was a protest against the political power of a corporation – the East India Company.

    2 – James Madison would have disagreed with you: “With regard to Banks, they have taken too deep and too wide a root in social transactions, to be got rid of altogether, if that were desirable….they have a hold on public opinion, which alone would make it expedient to aim rather at the improvement, than the suppression of them. As now generally constituted, their advantages whatever they be, are outweighed by the excesses of their paper emissions, and the partialities and corruption with which they are administered.

    3 – Thomas Jefferson would have disagreed with you, too. He warned against three threats to human freedom:

    * Governments (particularly in the form of kingdoms and elite groups like the Federalists)
    * Organized religions
    * Commercial monopolies and the “pseudo aristoi,” or pseudo aristocracy (in the form of extremely wealthy individuals and overly powerful corporations)

    But of course these were all just Democratic party shills, right? It doesn’t matter that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, huh? The Democrats mostly agree with what he said, so that means that Thomas Jefferson MUST be wrong, huh?

  • Bowie

    Also I’m so supposed to use google to support your argument? Intellectually lazy much? I guess this map is just designed for the right to fap to.

  • Bowie

    I don’t see any scenario in which VA goes for Obama and Ohio doesn’t.

  • Arch Conservative

    NH will go for Romney not Obama this fall.

  • RJ

    As for Nevada, it went for Obama in 2008 by a 55-43 margin. Obama currently has a small lead in recent polls.

    In a poll from early June, Obama is up 48-42 among registered voters. Still below 50%, but close. They did not poll a three way race.

    In a poll from late May, also of registered voters, Obama was up just two points, 46-44. Again, no polling of a three-way race.

  • RJ

    10 –

    This poll from about a month ago has Romney ahead of Obama by 7 points in a two-way race and by 4 points in a three-way race.

    This poll from about a month and a half ago has Romney ahead of Obama by 9 points in a two-way race. They did not include a three-way race with Gary Johnson.

    I’m unaware of any more recent polls for Arizona (at least ones by credible polling firms). There probably isn’t much polling being conducted for Arizona because there is about a 95% likelihood that Romney will win the state in November.

  • Andrew, I’m just curious. Which polling organizations did you use? And a three-way race including whom?

  • Andrew McLeer

    Just a note on AZ: All recent polling data I’ve seen has Obama up by about 5 to 7 points on Romney in a three way race. Where did you see Romney winning AZ? Just curious which polling organization(s) you used on this.

  • Michigan, Nevada, and Virginia are all close according to some recent polls, but I have them all going for Obama.

    As Bowie said: show your work. Yes, you have a map, but it’s rather tiny and my eyesight is not what it once was.

    Michigan hasn’t gone red since 1988.

    But it has a Republican governor (Rick Snyder), an effort to recall said governor has recently failed, the GOP has a majority in both statehouses, there’s widespread anger at the Democrats over what’s been perceived as chronic mismanagement in many of the cities they control, and Snyder is being touted as a possible VP pick, which could seal the deal for Romney.

    Never say never.

  • RJ

    5 – Please use Google.

    6 – Yawn. So sorry that you’ve got a problem with free speech.

    7 – “With the exception of Oregon (he probably can’t conceive of it turning red because of all the craft brewers, coffee shops and organic farms), he has all the too-close-to-call states going for Romney.”

    Oregon hasn’t gone for a Republican presidential candidate since 1984. That’s why I have difficulty believing that it will go for Romney.

    Michigan, Nevada, and Virginia are all close according to some recent polls, but I have them all going for Obama.

    But FYI, close races in which the incumbent is polling below 50% quite often end up being won by the challenger because most of the undecided vote tends to go against the incumbent.

    “Michigan, which is usually but not reliably Democratic”

    Michigan hasn’t gone red since 1988.

  • Nothing wrong with a bit of fantasy, I suppose, but RJ’s wishful thinking means his map probably isn’t a very good predictor of the actual outcome. With the exception of Oregon (he probably can’t conceive of it turning red because of all the craft brewers, coffee shops and organic farms), he has all the too-close-to-call states going for Romney.

    As far as Adam’s point goes, it’s arguable that Romney’s home state even is Massachusetts. His roots are in Michigan, which is usually but not reliably Democratic and could very easily go the other way this year.

    There are two websites I use (and recommend) that have both very closely – using opinion polls – predicted the electoral vote score for the last two elections. One is ElectoralVote, run by a liberal; the other is Election Projection, run by a conservative. (Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight used to be excellent as well, but it’s been swallowed by the New York Times so I don’t know how reliable it will prove to be this time around.)

    They use slightly different algorithms, and ElectoralVote tends to get a bit closer to the actual result than its rival. Both webmasters are often guilty of wishful thinking as far as the analysis side of their sites goes, but when it comes to the actual stats they are pretty close to impeccable. They’re both well worth bookmarking and checking regularly.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    RJ –

    In 2008, corporations and billionaires weren’t allowed to spend unlimited amounts of cash on a candidate. But now they are…and even McCain’s complaining that foreign companies are starting to put money into super PACs…just like Obama said they would in his State-of-the-Union address after the Citizens United decision.

    The bulk of the funding that Obama got in the 2008 election was from small donors, $2000 or less per donation. In other words, from the people. But now, how can the people compete with corporations and billionaires who are allowed to spend literally unlimited amounts?


    Again, welcome to the new American Oligarchy.

  • Bowie

    Please show your work.

  • RJ

    1 – Adam, that’s an interesting point. But Mitt is losing Massachusetts to Obama by double-digits according to recent polls, and it’s difficult to imagine Massachusetts going for any Republican presidential candidate under any realistic circumstances. Mitt can somewhat credibly claim Michigan as his “home state,” and he’s at least somewhat competitive in Michigan, although ultimately I believe Obama will carry the state.

    2 – I did not ignore the recent polling. In fact, on the contrary, I based this map on recent polling. I’m afraid you don’t know what you are talking about.

    3 – Glenn, I don’t recall you being butthurt back in 2008 when Obama outspent McCain by hundreds of millions of dollars…

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Romney’s got one huge advantage – Citizens United. With all the super PAC’s, it’s been estimated he’ll have twice the financial support that Obama does.

    Welcome to the new American Oligarchy.

  • some guy

    it’s a lot easier to put a map that shows romney winning “if the election was held today” if you just ignore all the recent polling.

  • Adam

    I think your map is pretty solid, but one that really sticks out to me as perhaps warranting a second look is Massachusetts. No one’s ever won a presidential election without winning their home state, and blue as it is, I can’t see Mitt winning without the support of his home state.