The Democrats' Plight: Worse than it seems
There's really no gentle way to say this, so I'm just going to be blunt: In some ways, the political situation post-Nov. 2 is even worse for the Democrats than it may appear. And I am not just referring to the colossal losses they experienced in state legislatures -- a 650+ seat swing in favor of the GOP that has left the Dems in control of the fewest state legislatures since 1928. The resulting pro-GOP gerrymandering may lastingly blunt the demographic advantage Democrats could otherwise expect to reap from population trends such as the growth of Hispanic America.
No, what's really bad for President Obama and his party is the likely impact of the 2010 Census and ensuing House of Representatives reapportionment on the distribution of votes in the 2012 Electoral College. We can talk all day about whether a majority of voters would support Obama for re-election or not, but what really counts in presidential elections is the Electoral College. Each state's electoral vote equals its number of representatives in the House plus two, for its Senate delegation. And since the U.S. population continues to flow South and West, reapportionment will probably add House seats in red states and subtract them in blue states. Thus, the Census looks like a setback for Democratic chances to win the 270 electoral votes necessary to become president.
Texas, which has voted Republican in 9 of the last 10 elections will gain 4 electoral votes, according to projections from preliminary Census data by Polidata.com. The other gainers -- one vote each -- include Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina and Utah. All of these states have voted for the GOP candidate in at least 7 of the last 10 elections.
To be sure, Florida and Nevada have been more up for grabs of late: Obama carried both in 2008. But the only reliably blue state that looks like gaining an electoral vote is Washington, which backed the Democrat in 6 of the last 10 elections. Only one reliably red state -- Louisiana -- is losing an electoral vote.
Ohio, the perennial swing state -- it backed the GOP in six of the last 10 elections -- is losing two.
Meanwhile, eight states that usually go blue in presidential elections -- Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Minnesota -- are projected to lose one electoral vote each.
Bottom line? Removing Ohio, Florida and Nevada from the analysis, because they are too unpredictable, it looks like Republicans can pretty much count on an additional 7 electoral votes (Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina, 4 in Texas, and Utah, minus the loss of one vote in Louisiana) in 2012, while the Democrats can count on 7 fewer (losses in Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota, offset by a gain in Washington).
To look at it another way, take the 22 states that voted for John McCain as the GOP base in the 2012 presidential election. That base is about to grow from 173 electoral votes to 180. And if Republicans hold it, they could get to 271 by carrying just six more states -- Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Indiana, Virginia and Nevada -- each of which has voted GOP in a majority of the last ten elections.
As it happens, all six of these states, except for North Carolina, will have Republican governors next year, and all six, except for Nevada, will have Republican state legislatures.
Sounds eminently doable.
Update, 2:16 p.m.: A previous version incorrectly said that red states are projected to gain a net 8 electoral votes in 2012.
| November 4, 2010; 11:30 AM ET
Categories: Lane | Tags: Charles Lane
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