First, allow me to list the states that I believe will be the most competitive in the 2012 presidential election: Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida.
A case could be made for including states like Oregon, Arizona, Mississippi, and Georgia on my list of “battleground” states. However, I suspect the first one will stay safely blue, and the remaining three will stay safely red.
So. Using the admittedly somewhat outdated information found here, let’s take a look at the president’s approval numbers in the 15 states I believe are the most competitive:
Nevada – 44 percent (went for Obama in 2008 with 55 percent)
Colorado – 44 percent (went for Obama in 2008 with 54 percent)
New Mexico – 46 percent (went for Obama in 2008 with 57 percent)
Minnesota – 52 percent (went for Obama in 2008 with 54 percent)
Iowa – 49 percent (went for Obama in 2008 with 54 percent)
Missouri – 42 percent (went for McCain in 2008 with 49 percent)
Wisconsin – 50 percent (went for Obama in 2008 with 56 percent)
Indiana – 42 percent (went for Obama in 2008 with 50 percent)
Ohio – 45 percent (went for Obama in 2008 with 52 percent)
Pennsylvania – 48 percent (went for Obama in 2008 with 54 percent)
New Hampshire – 40 percent (went for Obama in 2008 with 54 percent)
Virginia – 46 percent (went for Obama in 2008 with 53 percent)
North Carolina – 46 percent (went for Obama in 2008 with 50 percent)
Florida – 47 percent (went for Obama in 2008 with 51 percent)
There are a few things I noticed about the above data. First, 14 of the 15 battleground states went for Obama in 2008. So he is essentially on defense in those states. The one state McCain won in 2008 that I consider to be competitive in 2012 is Missouri, where the president’s poll numbers now stand in the low 40s.
Next, in every single one of the 15 states listed above, President Obama’s approval ratings according to Gallup are lower than the percentage of the vote he received in 2008. He has seen double-digit declines in Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, and New Hampshire. So he has seen his support collapse in all three battleground states that are located west of the Mississippi River as well as the lone battleground state in New England. His support is down just two points in Minnesota and only four points in both North Carolina and Florida. The remaining eight states have all seen declines of between five and eight percent.
Finally, Obama won 28 states and 365 Electoral College votes in 2008. Assuming the Republican nominee won each of these battleground states, Obama would win just 14 states and 186 Electoral College votes while his Republican opponent would win 352. So even if every one of the competitive states goes red in 2012, the GOP landslide would not be as large as the landslide Obama won in 2008. Interesting.Powered by Sidelines