blog editor's note: this came to me via my online inbox from Larry Sabato, the nationally known political prognosticator. It helps to explain the concern that many have concerning a Gingrich presidential candidacy. In addition to this, it shows us the electoral advantage Obama has over the Republicans, going into this campaign season. Understand that it is the electoral college vote count that is the critical measure in a presidential election . . . . and in a presidential elections only. Never forget that Alvin Gore won the popular vote count but lost the electoral vote. Some blamed the Florida election results for that. I disagree. If Gore had won his own state of Tennessee or Bill Clinton's state of Arkansas, he would have had enough electoral votes to win without Florida. Gore lost the 2000 election because he did not win his home state, period.
The following tells us all just how much work needs to be done before the November elections.
|THE GOP'S ELECTORAL COLLEGE NEWT-MARE|
|By Kyle Kondik, Geoffrey Skelley and Larry J. Sabato|
U.Va. Center for Politics
Let’s look at this a different way. Chart 1 shows the Crystal Ball’s Electoral College map. At this point, it is effectively a map pitting Obama vs. a generic Republican; such a race, we believe, would be close, given the president’s relative weakness.
Chart 1: Crystal Ball Electoral College map, Obama vs. generic Republican
Romney, were he the nominee, could potentially make this generic map even better for Republicans. He has no obvious weaknesses in any of the swing states, at least as measured by head to head polling, which we fully grant is not necessarily all that predictive at this stage. Also, he could potentially make some of the competitive states harder for Obama: He could mobilize the not-insignificant Mormon population in Nevada to help in that state and play off his relative home field advantages in Michigan (his father was governor of the state he grew up in) and New Hampshire (he served as governor of neighboring Massachusetts and has built deep bonds with the Granite State, which paid off in his recent primary romp there). In fact, if Romney were the nominee, we’d likely switch New Hampshire to "leans Republican" from toss up. While this only represents four electoral votes, consider this: take another five Obama states that went for George W. Bush twice (Florida, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia) and put them in Romney’s column, and then add New Hampshire and all of John McCain’s states, and Romney is president.
Unlike Romney, we don’t see any competitive state where Gingrich would potentially perform better than a generic Republican. And, based on polling and our own thinking about the individual state-by-state contests, at this point we think he’d do worse than a generic Republican or Romney.
Again, polling at this early stage is not particularly trustworthy, but the differences between Romney and Gingrich head to head vs. Obama are telling. For instance, in Ohio, a recentQuinnipiac poll had Romney down only two -- but Gingrich down by 14. In December in Colorado, Public Policy Polling showed Obama up only two on Romney, but up eight on Gingrich. A Quinnipiac survey of Virginia showed Romney up two… and Gingrich down five.
Chart 2 shows the Obama v. Gingrich map, which is, needless to say, a nightmare for Republicans.
Chart 2: Crystal Ball Electoral College map, Obama vs. Gingrich
Notice, in particular, how this second map is much bluer in the crucial Midwestern states than the first map. Ohio, perhaps the nation’s key swing state, begins in the leans Democratic column. We also believe Gingrich would have little appeal to Hispanic voters, who are major voting blocs in a number of western swing states. Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, thus, are more Democratic in this map.
Henry Barbour, nephew of the former Mississippi governor and Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour, drew flak recently for saying that he couldn’t support Gingrich because he said he liked having a Republican speaker of the House; that is, Gingrich would do poorly enough so that Obama’s coattails would elect a Democratic House.
With this map, one can understand his fears. In several Midwestern swing states, Republicans gained many House seats in 2010 that, thanks to their control of redistricting, they sought to lock in through aggressive remapping. Under this map, all of those states -- Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin -- would be tough territory for Gingrich. If his candidacy were a disaster, those new Republican gerrymanders could unravel. The close battle for the Senate could also be affected -- Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio and Virginia all have competitive Senate races this year, and all of those states get bluer (or less red) on our map under a hypothetical Gingrich candidacy.