(Syracuse, New York) – I am on the road this weekend, but here are some of my observations from the past week and about the week ahead in politics:
“The GOP Math Problem” – In 2008, Republicans lost eight states that historically have gone Republican more often in Presidential races (see map). Those eight states are Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Indiana, New Hampshire, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. Let’s just say the GOP wins all of these states and takes their collective 93 electoral votes. Add them to the states Republicans won in 2008, and guess what? The GOP gets to only 265 electoral votes, five short of the White House! This just illustrates what an uphill fight Republicans are facing.
“Fun with Numbers” – Okay, stay with me here. It may be unrealistic for Republicans to win all eight states listed above. What if they lose New Mexico and New Hampshire, but win Ohio and its 18 electoral votes? Guess what? They reach 274, and Romney is President.
“Speaking of Ohio!” – Speaking of Ohio, that’s where President Obama kicked off his reelection bid on Saturday. In the modern era, the party that wins Ohio usually wins the White House. Most recently in 2004, the Buckeye State provided the one-state margin of victory for President George W. Bush. At times, Mitt Romney has owned homes in Massachusetts, Utah, Michigan, New Hampshire and California. Maybe he should find a real estate broker in Cincinnati!
“Virginia is for Presidents” – As much as Ohio is getting attention, where did President Obama go right after his Ohio appearance? Virginia. Mitt Romney also held a big campaign kickoff in Virginia days earlier. In 2008, then Senator Obama shocked the political establishment by aggressively campaigning and winning in some key Republican strongholds, including Virginia. Even a lot of Democrats questioned that strategy because it took time, money and volunteers from other states. Obama outsmarted everyone. The last Democrat to carry Virginia was Lyndon Johnson in 1964; and before that, it was Harry Truman in 1948. Even John Kennedy didn’t win there. It’s definitely a toss-up state this time around!
“Campaign Event or Official Duties?” – There was a lot of debate this week about President Obama’s trip to Afghanistan to review the troops and to mark the first anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death. Republican critics were outraged, while Democrats called it perfectly proper for Obama in his role as Commander-in-Chief. He certainly is not the first President to face debate over such an issue. President George W. Bush went to Iraq for Thanksgiving in November 2003, when he was clearly planning to run for a second term. The problem is that the critics on both sides are right. Each trip was both an official duty of the President and a campaign stop. Maybe the answer simply is to bill the respective campaigns for half the costs such dual-purpose trips!
“Theme Wars!” – Okay, Mitt Romney is borrowing a page from Ronald Reagan, essentially asking voters whether they “are better off now, than four years ago?” So his theme is to look at the present and to compare it with the past. On Saturday President Obama’s campaign handed out bright blue placards for people to hold at his rally - placards which simply said, “Forward!” So, Romney’s campaign theme will be that “things have gotten worse”; and Obama’s theme will be “things will get better.” With unemployment hovering at an anemic 8.1 percent, few are really saying “Things are better" right now!
“The Bottom Line” – The latest Real Clear Politics composite poll has it 47 percent for President Obama to 44.3 percent for Governor Romney. The difference of 2.7 percent is within the poll's margin of error, so what we have right now is essentially a tie! Get ready for a bruising campaign; this one is wide open!
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