Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The new 2012 electoral map after 2010 reapportionment

A Constitutional principe is that the Census determines the number of electoral votes for each state. The 2010 census numbers are now out.

The net result is that Republicans gain about 6 electoral seats, or one Nevada sized state.

Let us analyze the 2012 electoral map that I drew with the new electoral votes:

If the election is not close, such as in 2008, these details will not matter. But what if the election is close again?

I start with the Bush-Kerry 2004 map. It’s anyone’s guess what the swing states will be in 2012, and the colors in this map reflects mine.

Since Obama only managed to carry Ohio and Florida with small margins in a very Democratic year, and given his approval rating in those two states, I assume Ohio and Florida will be lost to him if the election is close (he will of course take them again if he wins with a large national margin again).

Republicans have targeted Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and Washington State in the last elections. Since they failed every time, let’s assign those to Obama. I added New Hampshire to possible Republican pickups, because Bush is not on the ballot anymore.

The Red and Red-leaning States, plus the 6 new electoral votes after reapportionment, leave the Republicans with 253 electoral votes.

Since Republicans are likely to control the house in 2012, they need 269 electoral votes to win. So they need to get 16 electoral votes from the states in light purple (or from Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan or Washington) to defeat Obama.

Assuming they keep the red states, plus Virginia, the Republicans need to win only one of the following swing states:

Colorado (Cook Partisan index 0), or
Nevada (D+1), or
Iowa (D+1), or
New Hampshire (D+2), or
New Mexico (D+2)

For the first half of 2010, Gallup has calculated Obama's approval rating by state. I will just compare each state with the national average:

New Hampshire (-8).
Colorado (0)
Iowa (-1)
Nevada (-1)
New Mexico (+2)

Without reapportionment, the GOP would have to win two of the mid-sized ones, but now only one is enough. It seems New Hampshire and Colorado are the most likely swing states. If Obama carries all of those states; he also need to hold Pennsylvania and Michigan and Wisconsin and Washington. If he does this, he is re-elected.

Let me also give you the Cook partisan index and current approval rating for the less likely but still possible pickups mentioned above:

Wisconsin: Obama Approval (-1). Cook index (D+2)
Pennsylvania: Obama Approval (-1). Cook index (D+2)
Michigan: Obama Approval (+2). Cook index (D+4)
Washington: Obama Approval (+2). Cook index (D+5)

If the Republicans keep the core states plus Virginia (Cook R+2, Obama approval -1), and miss all of purple CO,NH,IO,NV and NM, they will still win by just carrying one of the four blue states above.

Here is a another way of understanding the effect of the 2010 reapportionment:

Before this, if Republicans would have won all the States with a Cook Partisan Index that leans Republican and the Democrats all the states that lean Dem, the Republicans would get 260 electoral votes, Dems 269, and 9 neutral. With must-have Colorado (which is the only state currently with a completely neutral partisan leaning), the Republicans would get 269 and win the presidency *if* they control the house.

Thus the Republicans had a slight structural disadvantage, the combined red and red-leaning states had 9 fewer electoral votes than the blue and blue-leaning states.

After reapportionment, winning the Cook republicans leaning states would give the Republicans 266, and the dems 263. If the Republicans also win neutral Colorado, they would have 275. The Republicans now enjoy a slight structural advantage over Democrats.

First of all, the Republicans no longer need to control the house in order to win with just the red states. Second, reapportionment gives them the strategic possibility to “trade” Colorado with one of the smaller light blue states such as New Hampshire, Nevada, New Mexico or Iowa. With reapportionment Colorado is no longer a must-have.

Lastly this is the list of States losing and winning, plus the Cook measure of how they lean (for example Texas got 4 more electoral votes, and has been +10 points more Republican than the national average in the two last presidential elections). The second number reflects the change in the number of house seat for the State, which naturally also leads to the same change in the number of electoral votes.

Republican Leaning states:

Utah (20R) +1
Texas (10R) +4
South Carolina (8R) +1
Georgia (7R) +1
Arizona (6R) +1
Florida (2R) +2
Louisiana (10R) -1
Ohio (1R) -2
Missouri (3R) -1

Democrat leaning States:

Washington (5D) +1
Massachusetts (12D) -1
New York (10D) -2
Illinois (8D) -1
Michigan (4D) -1
New Jersey (4D) -1
Pennsylvania. (2D) -1

Swing States

Iowa, (1D) -1
Nevada (1D) +1


  1. About the map:

    In 2008 Obama won with a 7 point national margin. If he does the same again, he may well carry Indiana. But that defeats the purpose of battle-ground maps, which simply don’t matter in 53-46 elections.

    The red states are not states that McCain won, just the States I THINK the Republicans will win in a close election. Having 6 battle ground states makes it easier to discuss the map, than having 18, 12 of which are not really marginal states (like Indiana).

  2. The increase in Florida's population came from blue states. Sorry, but I see Florida turning blue with their 29.

  3. You may be right long term, but Florida has been trending Republican in the last 3 elections:

    In 2000, the two party votes in Florida was 50-50, about the same as the national vote.

    In 2004 Bush won Florida 53-47, far better than his national performance.

    In 2008, Obama won Florida narrowly by only 51%, even though he got over 53% nationally.

    And of course in 2010 the Republicans did well in Florida.

    It seems Republicans do about 2% points better in Florida than nationally, just like Cook writes. Indeed, Obamas approval compared to the rest of the nation is -2.

  4. It seems like Wisconsin may very well be turning red.

  5. Wisconsin was almost Red in 2004, and doesn't love President Obama.

    Also Obama's core minority voters are few there.

  6. Michigan now has a republican governor, and republican majorities in both houses.

    And a lot of ticked off democrats.

  7. If DREAM had passed it would be game over but if the Republicans can use their control over the House to really beat up the Holder Justice Department and reduce the vote fraud then that could be worth at least 1% in crucial districts. The real dream would be if reapportionment was according to the number of citizens qualified to vote. That was what the XIVth Amendment intended and convoluted wording gave us the current mess.

  8. Your map is incorrect. New Mexico did not gain an extra seat.

  9. Robbie:

    You are right, Thanks!

    I mixed it up with Nevada in the map. I will change it tomorrow asp.

    (this doesn't change the results)

  10. Mark said...

    “The increase in Florida's population came from blue states. Sorry, but I see Florida turning blue with their 29.”

    Wouldn’t one need an analysis of each migrating person’s party affiliation that migrates from a blue state to a red state such as Florida? The summation of which would give you a clear indicator of which party affiliates are migrating in what numbers.

    Also the total migration from blue states to a red state such as Florida may well be associated with the proposition: all capital and all human capital is mobile and in the long run much capital and much human capital will migrate to an environment of least regulation and least tax. If so, which type of voter, in general, views excessive taxation as fueling a size and scope of government that is too large? Which type of voter seeks lower taxation?

    Further, if one moves from a blue state to a red state, at the margin, are some blue affiliated voters affected by the new red state environment of “red” and hence change party affiliation and/or voting habits based on the new environment?

    Hence “Sorry, but I see Florida turning blue with their 29” is a totally notional proposition based on a complete absence of empirical data. However, since Tom is making a statement based on the “way things ought to be” and painting that “ought-to-be-world” in his own self image of notions, and framing a notion as fact, we have an indicator of Tom being “blue” to begin. (see Thomas Sowell).

  11. Three points: One, anytime a state INCREASES it's electoral value, it trends DEMOCRATIC. Conversely, it trends REPUBLICAN if the electoral value DECREASES. Not always, but definately something to reconsider.

    Two, one factor you aren't considering is the electorate demographic in three states, TX, AZ, and FL. If the immigration debate heats up and the Dems choose to make it an issue, it will drive hispanics in those states to the polls and COULD, stressing COULD, tip the balance in favor of the dems, particularly in TX where the electoral total jumped four votes.

    Finally, one major factor you aren't considering is the Republican Nominee. Should the reps choose a worthy opponent to go against Obama, say Romney, then the electorate is close, as you suggest, plus MI and MA become toss-ups. If someone weaker or percieved "tea-party whacko" is nominated such as Bachmann or Palin, then the electorate becomes sapphire blue.

    You can't choose what states go red or blue based on approval ratings. Approval ratings don't translate into votes. Just ask Clinton and Bush. Clinton has LOW approval ratings in 1996 but coasted to re-election. Bush had realatively moderate to high approvals and squeaked by the skin of his teeth.....just something to think about.

  12. Coloring North Carolina red is an indicator of your relative lack of knowledge. Barack Obama carried it in 2008, so it should at least be a swing state for 2012.

    Also: your blog sucks.

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  15. Florida will vote for Obama because the the republicans touched the third rail of politics, social security and medicaid..if the republicans had ran a more conservative candidate they would have had a chance to take back Virginia and North Carolina...the religious issue also hurts Romney...when folks realize that he keeps the original Jewish sabbath and not the traditional Sunday Sabbath voters will abandon him left and right....


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