Political Animal


May 04, 2012 10:39 AM Mitt’s Map

By Ed Kilgore

At WaPo today, Dan Balz and Philip Rucker offer a baseline general election story on Romney’s electoral college strategy. From beginning to end, they emphasize that Mitt has a “narrow path to victory,” without a lot of room for maneuvering or feints. That path is basically what Karl Rove, with his knack for making every straight line look crooked, calls a “3-2-1” plan, based on winning three traditionally Republican states Obama grabbed in 2008 (IN, NC and VA), then the two classic “tossup” states (FL and OH), and then one out of a grab-bag of other battleground states, including IA, NH, NV and CO (with many GOPers adding MI and PA based on their party’s recent down-ballot performance, though neither state has gone Republican in a presidential election since 1988).

The bottom line is that Romney has little margin for error, and even if he wins back Obama’s “breakthrough” states along with the two big tossups, he’s going to have to win somewhere in the northeast, in Rust Belt Land or in the Western states where his weak standing with Latinos is a really big problem (offset partially, at least in NV and AZ, by his exceptional strength among LDS voters).

Interestingly, the Balz/Rucker piece appears the same day WaPo has released a new poll of VA, one of those must-win Romney states, showing Obama up there among RVs by a 51-44 margin.

If this sort of battleground maneuvering fascinates you, check out one of the many interactive Electoral Vote mapping sites available on the web, where you can play at being Grand Strategist. It becomes pretty apparent very quickly that whatever strategery Team Mitt deploys, it’s going to need a significant national shift from where we are now to get safely to 270.

NOTE OF EXASPERATION ADDRESSED TO COMMENT THREAD: Yes indeedy, the “we” in the last paragraph means “the situation as it exists today,” and is not a secret signal that I am supporting Mitt Romney via the 10,000 words a week I write trashing him. C’mon, folks, you can disagree with me or dislike me without this sort of silliness.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • stormskies on May 04, 2012 10:54 AM:

    Dan Balz and Philip Rucker are of course crossing their fingers that this narrow path to electoral victory happens for buffoon Romney. Both are pathetic Repiglicans hacks posing as 'journalists'.

    If I remember correctly Rove has already projected that Obama has around 210 electoral votes right now, and buffoon Romney around 40. Heard this on one of the MSNBC shows. If so, it's pretty hard to see how buffoon Romney can win at all unless the entire system is totally rigged.

  • c u n d gulag on May 04, 2012 11:13 AM:

    I have three words for you:
    Electronic voting machines (EVM's).

    If the elections close, does anyone trust them?
    I sure as hell don't!

    And what may keep the election from getting, or being, close enough for EVM's to matter, isn't just Latino's.

    There may be some former Democratic 'Reagan Democrat' union members, who've willingly participated in their own demise over the last 30+ years, particularly in PA and the Rust Belt, finally waking up and returning back to the "D" column.

    And women.
    Don't underestimate the woman vote - especially after the recent "Republican War on Women."
    Conservatives may end up being very surprised at the results in even very conservative districts and states, when women they figured would vote solid "R," vote for Democrats instead, behind their husbands backs.

    Democrats need to keep reminding Latino's, public and private union members, and particularly women, who's on THEIR side - and who isn't!

    This should be easy to do - but remember, we ARE talking about one of the most clue-free creatures on the planet - Democratic politicians!

  • SadOldVet on May 04, 2012 11:15 AM:

    Reporting from the Mississippi of the Midwest...

    It was an anomaly that Obama won here in Indiana in 2008. A combination of misogny and awareness among a number of the idiots that McCain/Palin was too wacked out for even the semi-sane moved enough to vote 3rd party and/or Obama. Most of my white racist friends voted for Bob Barr (Libertarian) and some even voted for Obama.

    There will be figuratively a zillion dollars spent in Indiana this fall to convince voters to elect Mike Pence (2nd stupidest person on the face of this planet) as governor and Teabagger Murdock as senator and a major portion of their spending will be on an anti-Obama platform. They may be telling lies about Obama, but enough of the voters in Indiana believe them so they again vote against their own economic interests.

  • AngryOldVet on May 04, 2012 11:19 AM:

    It becomes pretty apparent very quickly that whatever strategery Team Mitt deploys, itís going to need a significant national shift from where we are now to get safely to 270.

    Thanks for acknowledging your true self Ed. I had believed for quite a while that you are a DLC/DINO/Repuke-Lite/Triangulator; but until this column I did not know that you had joined the Romney team!

  • Rich on May 04, 2012 11:49 AM:

    The usual braindead "reporting" from Balz. He wants a horse race so that he doesn't have to think. Like most of the Posties he kvells over trivial changes in polls that are just sampling error. Kilgore should be heaping the scorn this guy deserves rather treating this rehash of the obvious as anything serious.

  • Mitch on May 04, 2012 11:55 AM:


    I'm pretty sure that "we" means America as a whole, not the Romney campaign. In fact, that's pretty obvious from the context of the sentence.

    It's one thing to disagree with Ed's positions; it's quite another to take one sentence way out of context and accuse the guy of being in cahoots with the Repugs. It's pretty obvious from all of the rest of his posting that Ed's not in the GOP. Yeah, I would not complain if he were less of a political chess player and more of a progressive warrior; but just because he's not doesn't make him an enemy.

    I like and respect you, very much, but this kind of rage is just unhealthy. Debate the positions, don't act like the Repugs and play word games to enforce ideological purity. We're supposed to be better than that.

  • MuddyLee on May 04, 2012 12:09 PM:

    What Mitch said....let's attack our enemies, not our friends - there are plenty of enemies out there.

    (captcha used in this blog is terrible....are you trying to discourage comments?)

  • J-NC on May 04, 2012 12:20 PM:

    The MSM is starting to figure it out, then? And Dems who were up in arms about the Electoral College should be thrilled with it this year, because Obama has a huge structural advantage with the EC.

    I think it was a given that IN would flip back. I suppose Obama may hold it, but I doubt it. WI, MI, and PA would be the GOP's wet dream, but a key part of that term is "dream". It ain't happening.

    That means Romney has to thread a very small needle with the rest. NC is a pure toss-up. Obama has a good sized advantage in VA, and (in my opinion) a smaller one in FL and OH. To put things in perspective, if Obama holds VA, NH, and NM, plus the 3 above, Romney could win FL, OH, NC, CO, and NV and still lose the election.

    And the LDS argument in NV makes me laugh. As if they voted for the Dems in 2008. What about the Hispanics down in Clark County? You know, where most of the state's population is?

    If the economy tanks, all bets are off. Absent that, the advantages are all with the President.

  • Mitt's Magic Underpants on May 04, 2012 12:32 PM:

    "The usual braindead "reporting" from Balz. He wants a horse race so that he doesn't have to think."

    This is true of the media as a whole. They will build up Mitt and tear down Obama, so things are 'exciting' and easy. Mark my words.

  • AngryOldVet on May 04, 2012 12:55 PM:


    I did NOT take a sentence out of context! I took a complete sentence. I accept that Ed may have (or probably did) meant 'they' and not 'we', I would hope that if what he wrote was not what he meant that he would correct it. Until then, I can only believe that Ed meant what he actually wrote!

  • Zorro on May 04, 2012 1:10 PM:

    It becomes pretty apparent very quickly that whatever strategery Team Mitt deploys, itís going to need a significant national shift from where we are now to get safely to 270.

    Or, he can do what Bush did in '00 and '04, and make sure that the GOP decides what votes count. Don't overlook the role of the "voter fraud" laws in battleground states like PA.


  • tcinaz on May 04, 2012 1:23 PM:

    A grammar lesson for AngryOldVet and @Mitch. We is a pronoun which takes its meaning from its antecedent, the word previously stated from which it derives its meaning. While it could be argued that "we" in this case has as its antecedent "Team Mitt", that would actually constitute an error in the agreement of number. "Team Mitt" as a collective noun is singular not plural, there is only one team referred to. Thus the correct pronoun would be "it" which Ed did not write. That leads us to finding the correct antecedent for we, to determine Ed's meaning. The only other person reference in the paragraph is "you" in the first sentence twice stated, thus that is the correct antecedent. Rest easy boys, Ed hasn't gone over to the other side, his grammar proves it.

  • tcinaz on May 04, 2012 1:29 PM:

    Thanks for addressing that yourself, Ed. I started writing my post before yours went up because I was exasperated, too.

  • SadOldVet on May 04, 2012 2:17 PM:

    I won the bet that I could yank Ed's chain and get a reaction!

  • hornblower on May 04, 2012 2:46 PM:

    If Romney were to prance down the Washington Mall in a dress, the media would say that he is a real threat to win because of the cross-dressing vote and the stylishness of his frock.
    Horse race reporting is what they do. Journalism left the building long ago.

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