Destination 270

SMU Students Analyze the 2012 Presidential Election

State of the States


There are fifty states in the Union, five hundred and thirty-eight electoral college votes, and one candidate must receive at least two hundred and seventy to win. With fifty days left until election day it would appear as if this is all a numbers game. As you should read below, only a handful of those fifty states will ultimately determine the result of this election. My goal is not to assess these battleground states but to look at the electoral college map as a whole, both the red and the blue, and the purple too.

It has been three weeks since the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida and two weeks since the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina and it looks as if the post convention bump for both candidates has dwindled and the race to the White House is in full swing. Obama entered the Convention weeks with a slight majority and has coasted through with just a slightly higher majority today. Depending upon which poll you look at, the numbers range from +3 to +7 percentage points. A caveat to any poll is to look at if those polled are likely voters. 

To get an overview of where President Obama stands in his reelection, I have presented a few facts about previous Presidential Elections to showcase how history might not repeat itself in 2012.

In an address to the GOP, Conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham said the following, “If you can’t beat Barack Obama with this record, then shut down the party. Shut it down. Start new, with new people.”

I’d like to expand on what this really means…

 Gerald Ford won re-election with an unemployment rate of 7.7%. Jimmy Carter did not, with an unemployment rate of 7.5%. Bill Clinton ran and won re-election with an unemployment rate of 5.4% and George W. Bush ran and won with 5.5%

 Who Should Win this Election:

Mid way through his first term, in April 2010, unemployment rose to over 10%. Today, fifty days until the election, unemployment stands at a national level of 8.1%

The National Debt is currently at 16 Trillion Dollars. Simple arithmetic shows that each American would have to pay the government over $50,000 simply to balance the budget, much less increase surplus. Statistically, President Obama would not be able to win re-election if his reelection was based purely on a numbers game. Laura Ingraham is not the first conservative voice to question the publics’ continued support for the President. A collaboration of Political Science Professors from the University of Colorado have accurately predicted the electoral college map, by state, since 1980. Their map forecasts a Romney victory with every swing state going red. 

“What is striking about our state-level economic indicator forecast is the expectation that Obama will lose almost all of the states currently considered as swing states, including North Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshire, Colorado, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida,” said Kenneth Bickers of CU-Boulder.

However, this projection model is heavily based on historical facts and figures of re-election’s past, with the economy as a strong player. Moreover, nearly every other reliable projection model and polling site sees the map on November 6th differently.

Why 2012 is different: 

Why is Obama ahead in nearly every single popular-vote poll of likely voters? How has Romney’s campaign failed to see a significant bump in light of a Convention? Why does Barack Obama have a disapproval rate equal to his approval rate yet still in contention for re-election?

The answer is as simple as it is complex: Barack Obama isn’t just a presidential nominee, he is a political superstar and a celebrity. His Twitter account has over 20 Million followers, while Mitt Romney’s Twitter page has 1 million followers. Before wining the highest office of the land, his book Audacity of Hope was a New York Times best seller and was endorsed by Oprah Winfrey.

James Taylor, Marc Anthony, the Foo Fighters, Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman and Kerry Washington are just some of the hollywood celebrities who appeared and or performed at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.

At the end of the day, this election isn’t a game of numbers for incumbent Barack Obama. It’s an entirely different game, a game unprecedented by history and simply impossible to speculate.


2 thoughts on “State of the States

  1. Speculation sound, I believe the movement towards a non-numbers race is emphatic of the political/social atmosphere of this 2012 election. This may not actually be about platforms at all, and entirely popularity. Which is crazy! As you contended, Obama is a megastar celebrity. He is a best selling author (although I dreaded reading Audacity in Highschool) and his political/social/public circle has allowed him to amass a following that expands politics into entertainment. But supporters and voters are not always synonymous. With the increasing amount of conscious youth growing into voting age, my biggest wonder is even with a large following, how many will actually vote? And if Romney has garnered such a tall capital wealth in his own life, can he do the same for the nation? Probably. I don’t think the race will be as close as 270-268, but I still can’t tell you who will win. It really feels like a crapshoot, and we’re playing with loaded die.

  2. Pingback: The 47%, and why they really don’t pay federal income taxe « Destination 270

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