Five paths to victory, but only one Obama

posted at 11:05 am on December 15, 2011 by Karl

From Sam Stein at HuffPo:

At a briefing with reporters on Tuesday morning, top officials in the Obama campaign outlined five distinct paths that they can pursue to help the president win reelection.

Speaking at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, chief strategist David Axelrod and campaign manager Jim Messina pledged to take the same numbers-based approach to the 2012 campaign that former campaign manager David Plouffe famously used in 2008. And in surveying the electoral map, they have gamed out several regional strategies to help them clear the threshold of 270 Electoral College votes.

The regional strategies are likely familiar to political junkies — the states Kerry won in 2004 plus Florida, or Ohio and Iowa, or North Carolina and Virginia, or Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, or some combination of these if Obama loses a state like Pennsylvania or Michigan. Team Obama’s problem is that Gallup currently has Obama losing to either Romney or Gingrich in swing states like Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. Granted, head-to-head polling is not predictive this far from Election Day, but Obama is at 43-45%, which says something about Obama’s weak position.

Moreover, Team Obama’s paths to victory are problematic. To lapse into Newt-speak for a moment, these paths are not strategies, but projects in service of a strategy.

You win the presidency by winning states, but as Jay Cost notes, the Obama campaign has a national strategy for winning them: (1) Do as well with the non-white vote as Obama did in 2008, with the expectation that it continues to increase as a share of the total electorate; (2) Hold steady with upscale white voters, who tend to be more focused on quality of life issues like environmentalism; and (3) Mitigate losses among the white working class.

Jay — and Sean Trende and D.P. Kuhn — have identified the likely flaws in this plan. First, the Hispanic vote may not grow commensurate with the increase in the Hispanic voting-age population, and has not maintained a level of support for Obama to the degree African-Americans have. Second, Obama is faring badly with the white vote generally, including white professionals, particularly if a bad economy takes their minds off issues like the environment. Third, Obama will have difficulty holding his losses among the white working class, which were a significant part of Obama’s 2008 coalition in the Midwest. As Kuhn notes:

Obama’s gains with whites in 2008 were limited to men. Obama performed as well with white women as Al Gore did in 2000. He even won the same share of college-educated white women as Gore. Obama did surpass Kerry’s performance with these so-called “soccer moms” by a couple points, but he negated those gains by underperforming among the so-called “waitress moms.” And that was with historic winds at his back.

Critically, Obama’s gains with downscale and upscale white men occurred after the market crashed. Today, Obama’s approval rating with white men (31 percent) resembles his standing before Lehman Brothers brought Wall Street down and the American economy with it.

This means that Obama is not on track to emulate Kerry’s performance with whites. Obama is, instead, heading in the direction of Walter Mondale. And there’s no route to re-election if he even modestly out-performs Mondale with whites, partly due to the disproportionate influence of rural states in the Electoral College.

Fourth, as Trende notes (and Jay has on other occasions), it is just plain difficult to maintain a broad political coalition, e.g.,when Obama panders to upscale environmentalists, he alienates bitter clingers in the Rust Belt. Fifth, as USA Today notes:

The demographic groups who provided his highest levels of support in 2008 are the same ones who have been hit hardest by the nation’s slow economic recovery.

While the nation’s overall unemployment rate dropped to 8.6% in November, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that African-American unemployment actually rose from October to 15.5%. For those 20-24, it was up to 14.2%. The jobless rate for Hispanics was unchanged at 11.4%.

Last, and related to some of the prior points, Barack Obama is no longer “a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views,” as it was put in The Audacity of Hope. His advisers can dream up many paths to victory, but they have only one candidate now, one with a record.

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Yes. A record of lies.

Cincy Conservative on December 15, 2011 at 11:09 AM

But I thought he was the greatest president we’ve ever had!

But I’m not worried. The Rino National Committee will figure out how to lose gracefully once again.

CurtZHP on December 15, 2011 at 11:09 AM

Obooba’s five potential paths to victory:

1. Throw all Republicans in Gitmo.

2. Put LSD in the drinking water nationwide.

3. Make the sea level go up and down by twenty feet a few times by a wave of his hand.

4. Send absentee ballots to every citizen of Mexico.

5. Fly to Jerusalem on a winged steed, and get it on CNN.

Akzed on December 15, 2011 at 11:10 AM

West coast (CA, OR, WA)
Mountain West (CO, NV, NM) and HI
Upper Mid West (IA, MN, MI, WI)
New England (PA + all points northeast)

= 272

Fore More Years!

aquaviva on December 15, 2011 at 11:11 AM

Any of those five paths end in a steep drop. I highly recommend that one. I’ll even go out there on my day off to block off the other ones. Just doing my part.

msupertas on December 15, 2011 at 11:12 AM

….and the Number One way to keep his office: Wreck the economy, compromise our freedoms and declare martial law!!!!! Congratulations, America, we have some nice parting gifts for you.

search4truth on December 15, 2011 at 11:13 AM

What’s to stop him from just putting all opposition in Gitmo forever? Be a lot easier.

a capella on December 15, 2011 at 11:14 AM

1. Have MSM nominate GOP candidate.

2. Have MSM nominate GOP candidate.

3. Have MSM nominate GOP candidate.

4. Have MSM nominate GOP candidate.

5. Have MSM nominate GOP candidate.

Long haired country boy on December 15, 2011 at 11:15 AM

Reality often escapes these people, kinda of like when I wanted a car for Christmas when I was 12.

Windsweeping on December 15, 2011 at 11:16 AM

Don’t forget Acorn! They and other groups like them are the wild card. Voter fraud will turn this election. As Hugh Hewitt says “If it’s not close that can’t cheat”. It’s close enough to cheat and everything should be done to prevent that from happening. Starting NOW. Casting your vote and hoping for the best is no longer an option.

LeftCoastRight on December 15, 2011 at 11:16 AM

I’m happy to be living in one of the swing states that will prevent the jug-eared idiot from getting another four years to destroy the nation. Anybody who votes for Obama is a traitor to this nation as far as I am concerned. An ignorant commie-loving traitor but a traitor nonetheless.

Happy Nomad on December 15, 2011 at 11:17 AM

1.Lie
2.Obfuscate.
3.Mislead.
4.Bribe.
5.Corrupt.

profitsbeard on December 15, 2011 at 11:17 AM

Wonder if Patrick would do another mid month poll now that we have so many new HA posters? I would love to see how many gals and those over 65 have joined. We need more gals here, there seems to be few of us.
L

letget on December 15, 2011 at 11:18 AM

+1 long hair

cmsinaz on December 15, 2011 at 11:19 AM

Fore More Years!

aquaviva on December 15, 2011 at 11:11 AM

The last thing we need is another Golfer in Chief.

HiJack on December 15, 2011 at 11:19 AM

MSM is all the AWESOME WON needs!
Nothing else.

KOOLAID2 on December 15, 2011 at 11:21 AM

So, Obama’s primed to gallop off madly in all five directions. And you know, it’s been over 3 years now, and I still haven’t received my skittles-pooping unicorn. And the sea level has risen out at the beach to where it’s undermining the dunes. And Peggy-what’s-her-face over in Tampa is still waiting for Bammy to deliver her free refrigerator and new house. Yep, all’s well in Obamaworld.

Scriptor on December 15, 2011 at 11:21 AM

1.Lie
2.Obfuscate.
3.Mislead.
4.Bribe.
5.Corrupt.

profitsbeard on December 15, 2011 at 11:17 AM

1. Obfuscate
2. Bribe
3. Alinsky
4. Mislead
5. Alinsky

O-B-A-M-A…

Sorry for the repeat, but I love the Alinsky tie-in

Khun Joe on December 15, 2011 at 11:26 AM

The demographic groups who provided his highest levels of support in 2008 are the same ones who have been hit hardest by the nation’s slow economic recovery.

Lol…so??? Are you actually suggesting that this will somehow erode his support within these groups?

HB3 on December 15, 2011 at 11:26 AM

Are you actually suggesting that this will somehow erode his support within these groups?

HB3 on December 15, 2011 at 11:26 AM

I do. A lot of these folks may be stupid but I doubt they are suicidal.

VegasRick on December 15, 2011 at 11:31 AM

From Matt Drudge:

Military given go-ahead to detain US terrorist suspects without trialCivil rights groups dismayed as Barack Obama abandons commitment to veto new security law contained in defence bill

Hey Bracky boy. Just have all conservatives declared terror suspects.

Long haired country boy on December 15, 2011 at 11:37 AM

Obama’s gains with whites in 2008 were limited to men

name one!

golfmann on December 15, 2011 at 11:38 AM

Obama’s 2008 hip on-line college student supporters are 2012′s unemployed.

Good luck with that voting block.

tomg51 on December 15, 2011 at 11:39 AM

name one!

golfmann on December 15, 2011 at 11:38 AM

Too easy…Frum. Wait, did you say “men”?

swinia sutki on December 15, 2011 at 11:41 AM

Yup, he’s got a record now. But is the electorate (i.e. his demographic support groups) paying attention? Or just feeling lousy while everything goes to an unmentionable place in a woven carrying container?
Which they seem to be willing to do, weeping and wailing but not jumping out…

redgypsy on December 15, 2011 at 11:42 AM

Didn’t know that there was a segment called “waitress moms”. But it doesn’t surprise me that Obama didn’t do well with them.

ModerateMan on December 15, 2011 at 11:43 AM

It’s way too early for these type of polls to mean anything, much less predict an outcome. If someone took a poll and asked me what I think about men, my answer would be different every month — some good, some bad.

lea on December 15, 2011 at 11:44 AM

I suspect his support among African-Americans (I really dislike that term) will remain high, BUT the turnout among them will be much lower. There’s not nearly as much romance and history associated with voting for The First Black President the second time around, especially if he’s not a very good one.

theblackcommenter on December 15, 2011 at 11:47 AM

1.Lie
2.Obfuscate.
3.Mislead.
4.Bribe.
5.Corrupt.

And that was just in the first week of his Administration!

ToddPA on December 15, 2011 at 11:48 AM

My 24 year old son said that all the people he knows who voted for Obama because “it was the cool thing to do” are not paying attention and have already said they will probably not vote this election.

lea on December 15, 2011 at 11:49 AM

“The demographic groups who provided his highest levels of support in 2008 are the same ones who have been hit hardest by the nation’s slow economic recovery”.

Bone meet own…

hillsoftx on December 15, 2011 at 11:50 AM

Five paths to victory, but only one Obama

Apocalypse’ recipe for success:

1. Reject Newt Romney
2. Reject Karl Krauthammer
3. Reject Ron Paul
4. Thank remaining candidates for participating
5. Elect Michele Bachmann and pray America returns to God

apocalypse on December 15, 2011 at 11:51 AM

Didn’t know that there was a segment called “waitress moms”. But it doesn’t surprise me that Obama didn’t do well with them.

ModerateMan on December 15, 2011 at 11:43 AM

I think that may be the new politically correct term for what were called WalMart moms. WalMart has become a synonym for Satan with the Dems, so maybe that’s why the change. Just speculating though.

juliesa on December 15, 2011 at 11:54 AM

Are you actually suggesting that this will somehow erode his support within these groups?

HB3 on December 15, 2011 at 11:26 AM
I do. A lot of these folks may be stupid but I doubt they are suicidal.

I live in the suburbs of Detroit. I think you may be off base in your assessment of the urban calculus behind voting.

oconp88 on December 15, 2011 at 11:54 AM

I cant see anyone who didnt vote for Obama in 2008 changing their minds and voting for him this time. I will gladly vote for “someone randomly picked from the phone book” over Obama.

atracksler on December 15, 2011 at 11:55 AM

Why no thread, Ed?

Akzed on December 15, 2011 at 11:20 AM

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Vigilance.

Liberty.

65droptop on December 15, 2011 at 11:57 AM

Five paths to Obama victory in one word:

ROMNEY!

Sparky5253 on December 15, 2011 at 11:57 AM

If Florida and Ohio fall into the GOP’s corner, Pennsylvania, Virginia will be the key states needed to force Obama to have to win every state west of the Mississippi river. If the RNC can grasp this strategy and concentrate serious money/energy to those two states, barring serious blunder, this should send Obama back to Chicago.

Rovin on December 15, 2011 at 11:58 AM

I want his path to lead him to prison.

zenron on December 15, 2011 at 12:02 PM

I’ve been saying for months that just about anyone could beat Obama next year, the only real question will be how big the victory is.

Texastoast on December 15, 2011 at 12:05 PM

6. Get Trump to run as an Independent.

slickwillie2001 on December 15, 2011 at 12:09 PM

What’s to stop him from just putting all opposition in Gitmo forever? Be a lot easier.

a capella on December 15, 2011 at 11:14 AM

Hank Johnson is heading a task force to see if that would cause Cuba to capsize.

MrKleenexMuscles on December 15, 2011 at 12:09 PM

Don’t forget Acorn! They and other groups like them are the wild card. Voter fraud will turn this election. As Hugh Hewitt says “If it’s not close that can’t cheat”. It’s close enough to cheat and everything should be done to prevent that from happening. Starting NOW. Casting your vote and hoping for the best is no longer an option.

LeftCoastRight on December 15, 2011 at 11:16 AM

THIS. I get so sick of “horse-race” coverage. In a fair fight practically any conservative (or even Republican!) could beat Obama. but there will never be a fair fight. This is why Eric Holder’s persecution/prosecution of states’ efforts to control voter fraud is the undercovered story of the election. It doesn’t matter what the polls say, what matters is the percentage of votes affected by fraud.

Timeout on December 15, 2011 at 12:13 PM

Should we be checking to see if the “seas receeded”?

Tater Salad on December 15, 2011 at 12:18 PM

A third-party run by Ron Paul would also likely ensure a second term for Soetoro.

Hunstman and Gary Johnson would probably not siphon enough votes away from the GOP nominee to matter, but the isolationist from Texas could probably throw the election to Obama with a vanity campaign.

MidniteRambler on December 15, 2011 at 12:23 PM

His advisers can dream up many paths to victory, but they have only one candidate now, one with a record.

Yeah, and you’ll note that The One is not running ‘on his record’.

GarandFan on December 15, 2011 at 12:25 PM

A strategy that will never be admitted to, but which should not be underestimated is systematic voter fraud, i.e., the dead that vote, the felons that vote, non-citizens that vote, multi-jurisdictional voting, etc. Recent elections have proven how effective that strategy can be.

Since there are tens of thousands of precincts in the U.S., a handful of such votes in the “friendly” precincts could easily swing close states.

EdmundBurke247 on December 15, 2011 at 12:29 PM

His advisers can dream up many paths to victory, but they have only one candidate now, one with a record.

True. In 2008, Obama could basically say anything and since the media wouldn’t do any vetting, the people could believe that his words meant whatever they wished those words to mean. It is an entirely different story in 2012. Obama has been pretty much exposed – despite the constant propaganda emanating from the media – as an empty suit with a far-Left political worldview. His Administration has been involved in scandals that should be embarrassing every American (and which would be far bigger if we had an honest Press) and his only real legislative achievement is more unpopular by the day.

And all of this is excellent news to those of us who saw through Obama’s smoke and mirror act in 2008. At this stage I have no candidate, but ANY of the Republican offerings – yes, even Ron Paul – would be an improvement on the current occupant of the White House. I only hope the Republicans can get enough of the Senate to prevent the Democrats from filibustering everything, as we know they will.

StoneHeads on December 15, 2011 at 12:46 PM

There’s a reason why Barry hangs out in high schools.
He’s still counting on the “clueless” vote.

bailey24 on December 15, 2011 at 1:06 PM

Barack Obama is no longer “a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views”

Precisely why I usually refer to it as zer0. That, and the fact that 0 is the first character in B. Hussein 0bama’s surname.

MisterElephant on December 15, 2011 at 1:06 PM

StoneHeads on December 15, 2011 at 12:46 PM

yep, I’m betting this is where most are in this crowd.

DanMan on December 15, 2011 at 1:31 PM

What state in 2004 did Bush carry that will go for Obama in 2012? I can’t think of one.

karenhasfreedom on December 15, 2011 at 1:44 PM

5. Fly to Jerusalem on a winged steed, and get it on CNN.

Akzed on December 15, 2011 at 11:10 AM

Winged steed? That one busted my sides! Thank you.

ExtremeAngler on December 15, 2011 at 2:14 PM

Theres only one path for victory for America and thats no more Obama

rbtsckdj on December 15, 2011 at 2:22 PM

But I thought he was the greatest president we’ve ever had!

But I’m not worried. The Rino National Committee will figure out how to lose gracefully once again.

CurtZHP on December 15, 2011 at 11:09 AM

this

Dr. Demento on December 15, 2011 at 5:16 PM