May 29, 2011


From the Midwest to the West Wing: The formula for a winning GOP candidate (JEFFREY H. ANDERSON, 6/06/11, Weekly Standard)

Ours is a federalist system, however, in which candidates are rewarded for winning a sufficiently large number of (sufficiently large) states. And 17 months out, it is already clear that the 2012 election will be decided in about a quarter of the states. Looking at the 2008 (and 2004 and 2000) presidential election results by state, Obama’s approval rating in state-by-state exit polls, support for repeal in those same exit polls, and states’ 2010 House election results, it looks like 13 states will be somewhat or very competitive. Of the somewhat competitive states, three are Democratic-leaning​—​Michigan, Minnesota, and New Mexico​—​while the fourth leans Republican: North Carolina. Let’s assume they stay in those respective columns. When added to the 37 predictable states, the electoral tally would be Democrats 217, Republicans 206.

And the 9 very competitive states? Three of these lean Republican: Florida (29 electoral votes), Ohio (18), and Virginia (13). Three lean Democratic: Pennsylvania (20), Wisconsin (10), and Nevada (6). And three are essentially toss-ups: Colorado (9), Iowa (6), and New Hampshire (4). If each party holds all of the states that lean its way, the electoral tally will be Republicans 266, Democrats 253, with Colorado, Iowa, and New Hampshire hanging in the balance. To prevail, the Republican nominee will have to win one of these three remaining states. Obama will have to sweep them.

When thinking, therefore, about which candidates could maximize the GOP’s advantages on the electoral map​—​advantages that were accentuated through the allocation of 6 electoral votes from Democratic-leaning states to Republican-leaning states as a result of the recent census​—​one should keep in mind that the ideal state for a candidate to be from would be one that is bigger than most (a state with 8 or more electoral votes), is very competitive, and which the other party can’t really afford to lose. [...]

The Chicago Tribune editorialized last week that Mitch Daniels’s decision not to run left “a big hole in the field .  .  . representing certain qualities that can be thought of as Midwestern. And it may be that the person who wins the election next year will be the candidate who displays those attributes most convincingly.”

Indeed, more than any other election in recent memory, the 2012 election clearly calls for a candidate who possesses the characteristically Midwestern virtues of prudence, integrity, humility, and​—​most of all​—​fiscal responsibility. Not so coincidentally, it also calls for a candidate who can carry the Midwest, the most crucial region on the electoral map. It almost goes without saying that the candidate who possesses the former can win the latter​—​and, with it, the White House.

Posted by at May 29, 2011 8:18 AM

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