For those who don’t know, the American Presidential Election will be decided by only a few key states. Most states (and most people for that matter) have already made up their minds as to who they’re voting for and it’s just a question of turnout.
In America, winning the popular vote isn’t enough by itself to win the election; America uses the Electoral College. Each state has a number of electoral delegates based on population, and thus, it’s a question of winning the electoral votes of those states than the population of the whole. 90% of the time, that’s what ends up happening anyway. I know of four elections where the candidate who won did not win the popular vote (John Quincy Adams in 1824, Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876, Benjamin Harrison in 1888, & George W. Bush in 2000).
With most states having made up their minds already, here’s what the electoral map on Real Clear Politics looks like now.
In order to win, you need 270 electoral votes.
Currently, the breakdown is 201 Blue (Obama) and 191 Red (Romney).
President Obama has 69 votes to go. That means he can win this race without winning Ohio and without winning Florida. If he takes Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania, he will have 272 electoral votes.
Alternatively, if he manages to take Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, or Florida away from Romney, the chances that he wins increases exponentially; not because it adds much to Obama’s numbers, but because it takes away from Romney’s, particularly in states that he’s more likely to win.
Mitt Romney, alternatively, has 79 votes to go. Romney is estimated by the polls to take Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia. But here’s the kick. If Romney takes Ohio, that’s not enough. If Romney wins all of these states, he will have 266. That’s 4 electoral votes short. That means, he must at the very least take all of those states, as well as one of the others. It could be New Hampshire, which has only 4 electoral votes; if Romney takes that, he’ll have exactly 270.
Obama is expected to win in Nevada, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. Ohio remains up in the air, but so does Wisconsin. Though it only gives 10 electoral votes, the ever-increasing closeness of the election merits that we follow that state more closely. And indeed, both candidates have as a result been spending more time there.
Historically, Wisconsin has always leaned Democratic. However, this state has been changing, particularly on the issues of fiscal liberalism. Unions are extremely prevalent in the state and also quite popular. However, unions have a naturally tense relationship with businesses and governments, and when unemployment struck certain areas of the state harder than most areas of the entire country, the political fallout from the infighting resulted in the election of Governor Scott Walker in 2010.
Wisconsin made headlines earlier this year when the bid to recall the Governor by Democrats backed by unions failed. It was clear that Republicans had a shot at winning this state that they otherwise wouldn’t have spared a passing glance to, and it was clear that Democrats would have to fight harder for a state that they normally took for granted.
Wisconsin is one of the biggest reasons Romney chose Paul Ryan as his VP. Both President Obama and Governor Romney have increased their time spent there, touring areas like Janesville and Madison in get-out-the-vote efforts.
Everyone knows that Ohio is important. Having 18 electoral votes and being the state that no Republican has ever won the presidency without winning, as well as being so close poll-wise, that it is inevitable that it’s where the campaigning will be the heaviest. However, because of what has happened in Wisconsin, those 10 electoral votes are looking more attractive to both parties than ever before.
If the polls speak the truth and Romney is to inevitably win Florida and Virginia, then it won’t just be Ohio that decides the outcome of this election, and the future for the next 4 years.