With the new census counts published last week, the numbers of congressional districts and electoral votes for each state for the upcoming elections have been set. Above is a map for the 2012 presidential election, with the following color-coding:
- Dark blue: Obama won by 19.25% or more in 2008
- Light blue: Obama won by 13.25% to 19.25%
- White: Obama won by 1.25% to 13.25%
- Light red: Obama won by less than 1.25% or McCain won by less than 4.75%
- Dark red: McCain won by more than 4.75%
These ranges are symmetric with respect to Obama's national margin of victory in 2008, 7.25%. The only adjustment was for Arizona, to remove the McCain home state effect. Obviously, the GOP may receive a boost in other states once their ticket is set.
The light blue states the Democrats are probably most worried about are Wisconsin (smallest margin among those states in 2008) and Michigan (due to the economic situation there). As for the Republicans, the most vulnerable red state is probably North Carolina, which Obama carried. Obama also carried Indiana, but he will have a hard time in the rust belt this time.
Assuming all colored states go to the favored party (otherwise, it's probably a blowout), the electoral count is 217-206 for Obama. He therefore needs 53 of the 115 remaining EVs. The Democratic senate successes in NV and CO and their gubernatorial win in MN this fall are encouraging for the White House; that's 25 EVs. On the flip side, I would be quite pessimistic about OH (rust belt) and FL (a mere 2.8% win in 2008). The remaining four states, PA, NH, VA and IA and their 43 EVs would probably be the toughest to call in a close national race. Obama needs PA and either VA or both NH and IA. He will need to activate his networks in NH and IA without the help of a primary race, and might want to make frequent trips across the Potomac while Republican hopefuls go at each other during the coming year.
As for PA, well if Pennsylvanians thought they got a lot of attention in 2008, they better get ready this time. As Pat Toomey showed in November, it is a state where the Tea Party can win...