One of the top election experts has penned a new column in the Wall St. Journal looking ahead to the 2012 presidential election and he says seven states could determine whether pro-abortion President Barack Obama receives another four years in office.
In 2008, Obama defeated Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who opposed abortion, on a 52.9-45.7 percentage mark in the popular vote and 365-173 when looking at the Electoral College. Thanks to shifts in population from Democratic-leaning states to Republican-leaning states and thanks to the very low marks Obama receives in current polls, University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato says in his column that the 2012 election will be much closer.
Obama won the last presidential election in part because he shifted states that went for pro-life President George W. Bush — places like Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, and New Hampshire — to his column. Sabato doesn’t believe all of those swing states will vote for Obama once again.
“The emerging general election contest gives every sign of being highly competitive, unlike 2008,” he writes, but adding the disclaimer that Obama could rebound. “Of course, things can change: Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton were both in trouble at this point in their first terms, and George H.W. Bush still looked safe. Unexpectedly strong economic growth could make Mr. Obama’s re-election path much easier than it currently looks, as could the nomination of a damaged Republican candidate. But a few more weeks like the past couple, and Mr. Obama’s re-election trajectory will resemble Jimmy Carter’s.”
Getting into the thick of the Electoral College analysis, Sabato says dozens of states will predictably side with Obama or vote for the Republican challenger and that neither candidate will be expected to focus on them. Obama, he says, is relatively assured of 175 electoral votes from the District of Columbia: California (55 electoral votes), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), Hawaii (4), Illinois (20), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (11), New Jersey (14), New York (29), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), Washington state (12) and Washington, D.C. (3). He says another group of states may see some competition but are likely to back Obama: Maine (4), Minnesota (10) and Oregon (7).
Another four states are ones that are considered swing states but Sabato says will probably stay in Obama’s column: Michigan (16), New Mexico (5), Pennsylvania (20) and Wisconsin (10).
“A low Hispanic vote in 2012 could flip New Mexico, as Al Gore carried it by only 366 votes in 2000 and a dedicated effort by George W. Bush flipped it in 2004. In Michigan, economic problems might cause voters to cool on Democrats. Wisconsin, narrowly Democratic in 2000 and 2004, is a cauldron of unpredictable countertrends. And although Pennsylvania has frustrated all GOP attempts to win it over since 1988, recent polls have shown weakness for Mr. Obama there. These 51 electoral votes will be GOP targets if conditions in the fall of 2012 approximate today’s,” he writes.
Republicans have a set of 18 states with 105 electoral votes are almost a lock to note for the re-election of the pro-abortion president: Alabama (9), Alaska (3), Arkansas (6), Idaho (4), Kansas (6), Kentucky (8), Louisiana (8), Mississippi (6), Montana (3), Nebraska (5), North Dakota (3), Oklahoma (7), South Carolina (9), South Dakota (3), Tennessee (11), Utah (6), West Virginia (5) and Wyoming (3). Sabato adds to the list Arizona (11), Georgia (16) and Texas (38) — another 65 electoral votes that are very likely to support the Republican and less in danger of flipping than they were in 2008 when Obama was in a stronger position.
Sabato says four places — Indiana, North Carolina, Missouri and the one Congressional district in Nebraska that went for Obama — are Republican mainstays that will be harder for Obama to hold this time around. Although Democrats planned their convention for Charlotte, North Carolina and although Obama received the benefit of a strong black turnout in 2008 in the Tar Heel State, Sabato believes 2012 will be a different story as far as these electoral votes are concerned.
That boils the race down to seven states.
“Republicans therefore are a lock or lead in 24 states for 206 electoral votes, and Democrats have or lead in 19 states for 247 electoral votes. That’s why seven super-swing states with 85 electors will determine which party gets to the magic number of 270 electoral votes: Colorado (9), Florida (29), Iowa (6), Nevada (6), New Hampshire (4), Ohio (18) and Virginia (13),” Sabato writes.
Of course, for every electoral college analysis, another pundit will have another take on the race with a different mix of states in the Republican, toss-up and Obama columns. Brad Smith, writing at Red State, says as many as 20 states may be in play in 2008.
While other states have the possibility of becoming competitive, pro-life advocates in these seven states — and in all competitive states — should start working now to prepare for the elections. Recruiting new members, working to register members to vote, establishing local contacts to disseminate information about the candidates, and publicizing Obama’s pro-abortion record: these are things pro-life advocates must do immediately to prepare.