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