Campaign Memorandum I: Appendix A
posted at 5:22 pm on May 20, 2012 by Mike Rathbone
It is here I go into detail about initial target states for the Romney campaign. I am in no way affiliated with the campaign and this is just my unsolicited advice. Feel free to add your thoughts and comments.
Where the Campaign Must Win to Win
In assessing the electoral power base, the campaign should always keep in focus the major goal of the campaign. It is not to acquire at least “50% plus one” of the votes cast in the fall for Mitt Romney. It is to secure at least 270 electoral votes. Thus, properly targeting the states forms the key strategic element in winning the presidency. These target states are listed below. It is important to note, that not only must the campaign play in formerly Bush 2004 states, it must also expand into areas which President Bush lost in 2000 and 2004. 290 electoral votes should not be a ceiling for this campaign. If the campaign goes well and things break its way, a victory of over 300 electoral votes is not out of the realm of possibility.
Governor Romney starts the election with a solid base of 16 states (West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah) and 131 Electoral Votes (EV). He can also be fairly confident of capturing (in degree of confidence) South Carolina, Georgia, Montana, Arizona, Missouri, and Indiana for an additional 60 EV. This gives Governor Romney a fairly safe starting point of 191 EV to rely on (although I would keep an eye on AZ, MO, and IN just in case, but if things go right, he won’t have to worry much about them).
That leaves 79 EV short of the magic 270. President Obama has been said to have a solid blue wall. Sean Trende has pointed out that the wall is not as strong as some would have you to believe. However, barring a collapse of epic proportions, President Obama can safely count on 10 states (Hawaii, California, Illinois, New York, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts) and the District of Columbia for a total of 149 EV. Add to that in order of safety Washington, Maine (excluding the 2nd District), Oregon, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Minnesota, President Obama can safely rely upon 200 EV (remember Maine’s 2nd District leans D and isn’t likely D).
So what’s up for grabs? I have identified 12 states/districts that can be won with varying degrees of possibility. In all honesty, it is difficult to say at this point whether more states will be winnable when things develop further. The states are in order of likelihood of turning from blue to red along with my current assessment as to where they are leaning:
- North Carolina (15 EV)-Lean R
- Florida (29 EV)-Tossup/Lean R
- Ohio (18 EV)-Tossup
- Virginia (13 EV)-Tossup
- Iowa (6 EV)*-Tossup
- Wisconsin (10 EV)-Tossup
- New Hampshire (4 EV)-Tossup
- Colorado (9 EV)-Tossup
- Pennsylvania (18 EV)-Tossup/Lean D
- Maine 2nd District (1 EV)-Lean D
- Nevada (6 EV)-Lean D
- Michigan (16 EV)-Lean/Likely D
Some notes on these rankings. The way things are going now, I believe that Governor Romney will win North Carolina and probably Florida too. However, I am not confident enough to put them in the Governor’s column just yet, though North Carolina is fast approaching that point. Also, I’d be willing to bet that Missouri and Indiana are just as much in play as Nevada, Michigan, and Maine 2 are. The only reason Michigan is on this list is that Governor Romney has close ties to the state and Michigan just elected a Republican governor. Otherwise, I would put the state in President Obama’s column as a likely. In fact, if it weren’t for Governor Romney’s ties to Michigan, I would rate Minnesota as a more likely pick-up opportunity. In 2008, McCain lost Michigan by 17 points, but Minnesota by a little over 10 and according to the Trende article, Minnesota has been quietly trending more Republican over the years, while Michigan has been going the opposite direction.
Also, if you wanted to be really focused on targeted states. I would reduce the list from 12 to 9. I am fairly confident that Governor Romney will win North Carolina, and I am doubtful, but still hopeful about his winning ME 2, Nevada, or Michigan. If one wants to move those states to their respective columns, I see Governor Romney with 23 states and 206 electoral votes and President Obama with 18 states and D.C for 223 EV. 9 states and 109 Ev will probably decide this election.
Just a couple of notes on using campaign resources. If the campaign notes significant movement in New Jersey, Minnesota, or Maine 2, then diverting campaign resources to those areas could have high marginal utility. New Jersey has a popular Republican Governor and the Romney campaign will be reaching South Jersey through its ads in the Philadelphia media market. Minnesota is right next to Wisconsin and if their is movement there, additional investment can be done without too much trouble. Maine 2 is right next to New Hampshire, where campaign resources will already be used. Thus, barring an unforseen catastrophe on either side, I see Governor Romney with a realistic ceiling of 315 EV and a maximum plausible ceiling of 362 EV. I don’t see President Obama eclipsing his performance in 2008 and thus given the EV shifts, I see his max ceiling as 380 (his 2008 totals minus electoral college shift plus Arizona and Missouri).