Obama’s Surprisingly Big Base

August 8th, 2011 at 1:59 pm | 66 Comments |

| Print

The downgrade of the national debt, sagging approval ratings and better poll numbers for Mitt Romney are giving many Republicans hope for a victory in the 2012 elections. Given the inherent differences between elections, I wouldn’t count on current polls or anything else (including what I’m about to write) as a sure predictor of presidential elections.

Here’s an interesting data point however: Obama’s approval rating lows, to date, are higher than those for any President since Kennedy.

I’d suggest that this is a reasonably meaningful and important measure. All presidents, simply by virtue of the office, will end up doing certain things  that everyone likes and getting high approval ratings as a result. This doesn’t, however, translate into votes.  Right after 9/11, when President Bush gave some excellent, inspiring speeches and promised resolute response to terrorist attacks, many people who think very little of his policies voiced their approval for him in a time of crisis. He had a 92 percent approval rating at the time. Nonetheless, nearly half of the country voted against him three years later. The ceiling on a president’s approval rating, in short, doesn’t matter much since many of the people expressing “approval” won’t actually vote for the President. Even Ronald Reagan’s landslide 1984 election victory—he had a strong economy, could take credit for restoring national self-confidence, and faced a terrible challenger—involved the Gipper taking only 58.6 percent of the vote. In fact, Reagan’s highest approval rating, 68 percent, statistically ties with Richard Nixon for the lowest all-time high in modern history. Approval ceilings, in short, are almost meaningless.

A president’s approval rating “floor” on the other hand, does seem to reflect something real: the number of people who will stick with the President’s policies even in very tough times. Every president, again, simply by virtue of the office, will have to take some actions that cause temporary pain to large numbers of people with little short term upside. Can anyone really have been happy about, say, George W. Bush’s decision to push for TARP or Harry Truman’s decision to stick with the Korean War? Of course, had either of them sought a third term (obviously impossible in Bush’s case) they still would have done better than 22 and 19 percent of the vote their all-time-low approval ratings suggest.

For Obama, a 41 percent “floor” this means that he only needs to attract roughly 10 percent of the population to support him over his opponent since at least 41 percent of voters (and probably more than that) will likely select his name no matter. This won’t be easy. But it is yet another reason that Obama faces pretty good odds of winning a second term in office.

Recent Posts by Eli Lehrer

66 Comments so far ↓

  • chephren

    There’s no mystery here. The Republicans have fielded the worst bunch of prospective candidates in, well, ever.

    What’s the alternative to Obama? Michelle Bachmann? She WANTED the US government to default.

    Mitt Romney? He has flip-flopped so often on almost every important policy issue, it’s impossible to know what he stands for.

    • Smargalicious

      Rick Perry will save the day and put us on the right track.

      We must stop the spending and adopt the Ryan Plan. Or, we are doomed.

      • jnail

        Ah Ricky “Secession” Perry, or W “lite” as they call in TX praying for rain and sounding like Elmer Gantry.

        The US is not ready for another TX guv and Will Ferrell will find him easy to imitate and be his Tina Fey….

        Obama leads Perry in TX by 4 pts whild Romney kills Obama there.

      • Ana Gama

        Humorous, that. The Ryan Plan doesn’t balance the budget for 60 years.

      • lizerdmonk

        Your dreaming that Closeted Homo will be outed the moment he steps into the game and I hope he is the guy so that Obama will have a clear victory over this racist Buffoon who makes W look like a genius.

  • Oldskool

    As we used to say with a winning poker hand, read ‘em and weep.

  • ottovbvs

    There isn’t a mystery here but it’s not really to do with the weakness of his opponents which is a symptom of the strength of Obama’s base not the cause of it. On a turnout of 132 million, Obama won with 53% of the vote. Since then his approval has been in the mid to high forties for most of the time but has oscillated at the extremes between the low forties and high fifties. The latest CBS/NYT poll after the debt ceiling crisis had him at 48%. When he’s dipped to the low forties this has largely been because his base is unhappy with him for not being more in the face of the Republicans. I’ve said this before but it bears repeating. Absent a real Democratic doofus the Republicans cannot poll more than about 60 million votes. This is what McCain got and by a superhuman (and I have to say brilliant effort by Rove) Bush got 62 million votes in 2004. Ergo if turnout is above 125 million Obama is home and dry. If it’s the same as last time (ie. 132 million) not only is he home but Dems have a chance of taking the house back. In a general election situation it’s going to come down to turnout and the perception of who can be trusted NOT to do anything stupid. People are nervous and the more brinkmanship that Republicans indulge in over debt ceilings, scrapping Medicare, shutting down federal agencies is just going heighten public fears. The more sane Republican candidates like Romney know this as well as I do.

    • mlindroo

      ottovbvs, here is a repost from May 16 2010 on the relative strength of the GOP, Dem coalitions in presidential elections… In summary, it would be fascinating if Obama’s opponent were “George W. Bush on steroids” aka. Texas Gov. Perry! He relies even more on rural, white, old, religious voters and Tea Party types than W. ever did. Conservatives think it would be a rout given Texas’ “proven” track record of growth, jobs but I am not convinced the votes are there although Perry undoubtedly would win big the same states as Bush & McCain. “Demographics ain’t destiny” but it’s worth pointing out McCain won the exact same share of the white vote in 2008 as Bush did in 2000 yet he lost big.

      I urge everyone to take a look at this analysis of the 2004 and 2008 state-by-state results.


      Using Lupia’s data as input, let’s compare Bush’04 and Obama’08 to estimate the relative strength of David Axelrod’s and Karl Rove’s respective coalitions. Obama received 69.5 million votes vs.Bush’s 62 million: both record-breaking performances at the time. How successful would a conservative candidate enthusiastically supported by the “Bush GOP base” (social conservatives, security hawks) have been against Obama in 2008?

      Let’s initially assume that Bush’s stellar performance in ‘04 represents a more accurate measurement of Republican support. Whenever McCain received fewer votes than Bush did in a particular state, I will restore those votes to the GOP column. I will also generously allow the GOP to keep McCain’s 2008 totals in those cases (e.g. Arizona) where he earned more votes than Bush did.
      Net result: the Republican candidate receives an additional 3 million votes and wins back Indiana (11 electoral votes) but nothing else.
      The total number of GOP votes received is now 63 million. vs. Bush’s 62 million votes in 2004 (a gain of 1.6%). Obama still wins the popular vote by more than 6 million.

      Let’s now additionally assume *all* Bush 2004 voters who failed to vote for McCain voted for Obama in 2008! In other words, up to 3 million Obama’08 voters would have voted for an appealing “traditional” Republican candidate under normal circumstances. Clearly some of them either did not vote at all or voted for third party candidates, but let’s nonetheless make this assumption to see what happens. If we subtract this entire group from the Obama’08 totals, the Democrats lose Ohio (20 EV) and somewhat surprisingly also Wisconsin (which Bush never won!) and Obama now receives 66.5 million votes. He still comfortably wins the electoral vote 321-212.


      1) The Republican “base” may not have liked McCain but still voted for him (or at least McCain/Palin!) in usual or even better numbers in the GOP’s traditional Southern strongholds. McCain actually received significantly more votes than Bush did in the following states:

      State (electoral votes) — McCain gain vs. Bush04
      Arizona (10 EV) — 11.39% more votes
      Arkansas (6 EV) — 11.31%
      South Carolina (8 EV) — 10.33%
      North Carolina (15 EV) — 8.53%
      Mississippi (6 EV) — 7.72%
      Alabama (9 EV) — 7.66%
      Georgia (15 EV) — 7.03%
      Tennessee (11 EV) — 6.85%
      Louisiana (9 EV) — 4.18%
      However, changing demographics means this region is less important than before and Texas may soon become a Purple “swing state” thanks to the influx of Hispanics.

      2) The GOP turnout in the Mountain West was less impressive but still more than good enough to win in sparsely populated states without a large Hispanic population.

      3) Obama won — and often won big — not only in Illinois & California but in states such as Nevada, New Mexico, Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina thanks to record support from black and/or Latino voters and probably also white suburban voters. Bush made some inroads with Hispanics but his relatively modest totals even in 2004 suggests even an “untainted” traditional GOP candidate would not have won in 2008.

      4) Starting in1992 the Democrats have had a 19-state “firewall” comprising more than 250 electoral votes. This group of states has ALWAYS voted Democratic even if the candidate is relatively unexciting such as Al Gore or John Kerry. Assuming both candidates are equally strong and operate on a level playing field (the GOP was at a serious disadvantage in ‘08 and the Dems could well be in ‘12 because of the economy), the Democrat will then be much better positioned to win.


      • balconesfault

        Very nice analysis.

      • ottovbvs

        Very interesting analysis which rather bears out my contention that it’s all about the turnout math. To be honest I wasn’t familiar with all individual state numbers (although I understand the blue wall) but just viewing it from the topside. IMHO Bush’s 62 million in 2004 is the absolute maximum number of votes the Republicans can poll unless the Democrat is a McGovern type up against a very credible Republican. This was an incredible effort by Rove. The only thing that throws these numbers into question is a much lower turnout (which is basically what happened in 2010 – turnout 80 million). Looking forward I can only see this 62 milliion being threatened with erosion by generational and ethnic demographics. Against this background the Republican strategy of depressing turnouts makes entire sense.

        “Demographics ain’t destiny”

        Actually I think they usually are!

        • mlindroo

          Thanks! I agree that it’s all about voter turnout in the end. The Democratic best-case coalition has been bigger for twenty years now. Obama will almost certainly fail to persuade all his ’08 voters to turn out next year. But the demographic segments that broke strongly for him in record numbers three years ago keep growing, so he can afford some losses.

          The other word of caution concerns the economy… All Democratic candidates since Clinton’92 have been fortunate enough to defend a strong economy as incumbents, while the Dem challengers (Kerry, Obama) ran as “change!” candidates against GOP opponents trying to defend slow economic growth. So perhaps it isn’t surprising that the Republican record since 1992 is one narrow win (in ’04), one disputed tossup in ’00 and three huge losses whenever the Dems fielded an exciting candidate… I have always assumed this is because a generic Democrat simply is favored to win since the GOP coalition is smaller. *But* it’s also possible states such as PA, MI, WI, MN finally might flip if voters feel Obama is responsible for the dismal state of the economy… None of the recent Democratic candidates have had to deal with this kind of situation, so it will be very interesting to see how it affects the 2012 totals. My guess is the GOP candidate will be relatively weak, but nonetheless will perform as well as Kerry did in 2004.


        • ottovbvs

          It’s all parlor game speculation of course but I believe turnout will be similar to 2008. The Republicans will make a huge effort and this has the effect of energizing the Dems who despite some unhappiness on the far left are going support Obama when they see the sheer ugliness of the Republican campaign and it’s going to be ugly. Blacks, hispanics and youth will turn out. Note my comments above. If turnout is over 125 million Obama wins. If it’s around 132 million the Democrats win big also.

        • balconesfault

          Against this background the Republican strategy of depressing turnouts makes entire sense.

          As someone who got to watch Rovian politics in play here in Texas before they took it national, I can assure you that depressing turnouts (and at its worst, outright voter suppression efforts) is a lot of what makes the boy genius a “genius”.

          Watch any campaign Rove is involved in, and you’ll see an immediate dive for the bottom of the barrel in terms of political tactics. The goal is to make the process so ugly and distasteful that voters are left with the “everyone is dirty” attitude that’s perfect for getting independents to stay home.

      • jnail

        Excellent analysis. At this point IA is the only loss I can see from 2008.

        FL may be tight but other than that MI, OH and PA are not going red, though OH will be close as it always is and VA looks solid as does NV. NC should hold esp. with the convention there.

        Here is GA we are waiting to see if they are really going to commit to the state, if not our group will spend our time calling in NC and FL and working there on the ground, esp in NC as it is so close.

        • Frumplestiltskin

          yeah, good analysis, but don’t forget the census and the number of electoral votes which are going towards more traditional red states.

        • Primrose

          I am interested in the analysis. I would also suggest that a lot of people are very upset by the Tea Party. They can see that this group had it out for them, and most sense why, even if it isn’t an explanation they like to voice. A lot of people will have lost money because of this S$P market slide and will blame the Republicans for it.

          I also think that people like Mr. Obama, and wanted him to succeed, wanted the idea of him to succeed. Voting is emotional as well as intellectual and I think it is very likely that people, even those who disagree, who say he is weak etc. will get in the voting booth an feel ornery. They won’t want the bullies to win.

          And nobody on the Republican side is positive, hopeful choice. Not Perry who prays alongside a man who praises Hitler, not the Stepford wife Bachman, and not Mr. Flip-Flop. Perhaps Cantor and Palin will throw their hat in but they are no better.

      • bdtex

        McCain got about 700,000 thousand more votes in the Confederate states than GWB did in 2004 too.

      • Bunker555

        ^+1 MARCUS
        Great data and what it could mean next year. Keep it coming. Thanks.

      • Candy83


        It’s interesting. Even more so is the fact that all two-term presidents — except Woodrow Wilson — gained electoral votes with re-election (compared to first-term election victory). Always look to percentage margin between R vs. D. Incumbents getting re-elected are usually good for a gain of 4 to 6 (compared to first). But in the last two examples — 1996 Bill Clinton and 2004 George W. Bush — they gained just 3. (Clinton went up 2.96%; Bush increased 2.98%.) I look at it this way: 1) Under a scenario of re-election for Obama, he’ll probably gain 3 or 4 (compared to first-term election); or 2) He’ll get unseated.

    • rigos4

      You are dead on. What bugs me with these polls was on display in the case of attitudes toward Obamacare or ACA, polls showed disapproval but within that disapproval were impressive numbers that wanted more reform including approval of the public option or Medicare for all. The media rarely made that distinction, Republicans seized on the raw numbers and came out with the slogan that the people were against health care reform. They got naive independents to swallow the notion that this was some socialist take over of health care and won big in 2010 and now we reaping the result. But team Obama is also to blame. They are constantly oblivious to the need to fight back against disinformation. In the America of FOX “news’ and Limbaugh, fighting disinformation and lies is as important as governing; it is part of governing.

  • Houndentenor

    No candidate who could beat Obama is going to get past the South Carolina primary. That’s the problem for the modern GOP. A candidate who could appeal to swing voters is unacceptable to base.

    • Smargalicious

      Wrong. Many voters will never make the same mistake again: voting for an un-vetted community organizer because it appears ‘progressive’.

      • jnail

        Wrong, most of America will never vote for a hard right religious conservative like Perry or Bachmann and Romney is so tepid and such an empty suit that he will be beaten, only not like a red headed step child like the other two.

      • jakester

        Yeah Smarg, all the dbs you like have to win in a racist state, the heart of Dixie, that still flies the Confederate flag at the capitol. Spare me the old Dixiecrat spiel since SC has been GOP for decades yet all your bubbas still have their rebel flags in the trucks.

      • Candy83

        Well, Smarg — people did make the mistake again in voting for radical “Republicans” in 2010. So, it would be wise of you not to assume how people will handle their vote.

      • John Q

        Smargalicious perfectly exemplifies Poe’s Law.


        Personally, I think he’s putting us on, and sitting back laughing when people take such whacked-out opinions seriously.

    • balconesfault

      Yep – the GOP can elect enough House members from seriously gerrymandered districts to block compromise on any issue, and that’s given them a major lever to push for victories when in defeat they would have dragged the country into ruin – and the President and Dems were unwilling to further damage the economy in order to deny the Tea Partiers a win.

      And with Senators representing about 30% of the American Public they can filibuster everything in the upper house.

      But in the Presidential race, those advantages disappear. Fanaticism is not viewed as a virtue.

    • roubaix

      What if South Carolina fanatics are evenly divided between Perry and Bachmann, allowing Romney to hurdle both of them?

  • mlindroo

    I think the relatively high floor is the result of two things:

    * Democratic partisans do not have a problem with Obama’s policies and they like him personally.

    * Independent voters do not like the current state of the economy and harbor doubts about some of Obama’s policies. But this does not translate into automatic support for Republicans. BTW, the Obama Administration has so far had no corruption etc. scandals.

    I think partisan approval is quite important to a successful reelection campaign … the two most recent failures (Carter and GHW Bush) were derided as weak DINOs or RINOs respectively. In contrast, George W Bush managed to survive despite sluggish economic growth and embarrassment in Iraq (no WMDs etc.) mainly because his political base loved him.
    If Obama does lose next year, it will be the first time in recent memory when an incumbent loved by his own party loses to a relatively mediocre challenger.


    • DFL

      Very thoughtful reply and I agree with most of it. Most of my conservative pals think the election next year is a slam dunk. Not so fast. It is likely to be close with Virginia, Ohio and Florida make or break. If I was forced to bet I would guess President Obama wins in the manner of George W. Bush in 2004.

      • ottovbvs

        Depends on his turnout and his opponent. If turnout is again around 132 million he can bank 53% or thereabouts even with a credible opponent like Romney. I’d argue he’s liked and trusted a bit like the family attorney despite occasional unhappy moments. However, if the nominee is Perry or some other crazy, or even if there is a crazy on the ticket, then he could be in the 55-60% range.

      • abj

        I agree; in fact, I’ve been saying it for months now. Obama will win narrowly like Bush, or not at all. In 2008, with every conceivable advantage and in the context of the best election cycle a Democratic candidate for president has seen in generations, Obama managed a mere 53% of the vote.

        53% isn’t his baseline; it’s his high water mark.

        • ottovbvs

          So most of the 2008 9 million margin of victory are either not going to turn out or many will defect? Not likely imho. Pure speculation of course but I’d bet the turnout will be much the same as it was in 2008.

        • abj

          A combination of both.* To counter your speculation with my own –

          Likely Defections:
          Center-right independents and moderate-to-liberal Republicans. Obama did surprisingly well among those groups in 2008 and it made all the difference in several key states. Since 2010 the electorate seems to be shifting back to its usual polarized form, and those voters will probably return to the Republican fold next year. I doubt we’ll see the likes of Susan Eisenhower or Chris Buckley making a full court press for Obama next year.

          Likely Reduced Turnout:
          1. Youth voters. They’re caught in the teeth of this severe recession like few other demographics, and are probably more disillusioned than ever. In 2008, they voted for Obama in record numbers both because they thought he would end the recession and to make history. Well, the recession is still here and you can’t elect the first African American president in history twice. They don’t really have much reason to feel excited. Unless the GOP nominee is someone truly insane, they’ll probably mostly stay home.

          2. Hispanics. Obama’s support among that demographic is still solid but certainly not at its 2008 high. I don’t imagine they’ll turn out to the extent they did in 2008.

          (And I’m reaching a bit with this one…)
          3. Blacks. Enthusiasm for the president isn’t as strong as it used to be among this key demographic. Yes, it’s still stratospheric, but will it be as substantial as in 2008? Even if it’s just a couple points off its 2008 high, Obama’s ability to win NC and VA is placed in jeopardy.

          Also – and this doesn’t really fit into either category – I think the GOP base will be much more highly motivated to vote next year and will turn out in larger numbers.

          Really, if any one of the demographics I mentioned above behaves in the way I suggested, it could have a substantial impact on Obama’s final vote tally. Indeed, if Obama’s share of the white vote is the same next year as it was for Democrats in 2010, he will be in serious trouble.

          *The above is predicated entirely on the GOP nominating a credible candidate to challenge Obama.

    • ottovbvs

      “George W Bush managed to survive”

      He did more than survive. His 62 million votes was largest absolute number of votes for a Republican since at least 1992 and probably earlier, I haven’t checked the numbers.

      • balconesfault

        Of course, had the GOP not pushed through the Medicare drug benefit, that may have flipped Bush’s and Kerry’s vote totals.

        • John Q

          Remember two other factors:

          Swiftboating of Kerry

          CBS’s Bush National Guard service story and the apparently forged letter

  • Oldskool

    Maybe there’s relief in those numbers too, people thinking in the back of their minds, “what if someone like Shrub was in there right now”. That kind of thinking could last for a generation.

  • Idle Resources

    BHO can increase that base by brining in slaves-of-allah, and giving them sharia justice.

    If that article pleases you, enter “phobe” re-education to correct your wrong thinking. Salam Ikhwan!

    • ottovbvs

      Perhaps the new NAFTA superhighway can be used as a means of bussing in millions of A-rabs and Mexicans to vote fraudulently

  • MSheridan

    It’s not that surprising. The left wing of the Democratic Party doesn’t like the fact that he has governed as a centrist, but they do generally like him personally. His administration has finished off whatever shred of credibility the GOP still had as the party that better handled national security. Further, many previously nonaligned voters now see a GOP alternative as not only undesirable but unthinkable, precisely because the general mass of voters ARE a conservative lot and compared to the Tea Party crowd, President Obama is profoundly conservative.

    After Bush destroyed the idea that it doesn’t really make that much difference who runs the country, the Republican Party completely failed to start putting up candidates that look better than Bush (it could be argued that Romney and Huntsman are quite a bit better, but neither is at all popular with the base). Bizarrely, the GOP seems to have doubled down on the radicalism that alienated a large segment of their base to begin with, driving out a lot of the temperamentally conservative but largely nonideological voters they used to count on.

    So, immediately after the most disastrous Republican administration in living memory and while the GOP is currently dominated by its most strident antigovernment voices and when the Democrats in power look more like Eisenhower Republicans (with lower taxes, to boot) than the wild-eyed radicals their opposition tries to paint them as, how can we feel surprise that the Democrat-in-chief has a big base of support? It would only be surprising were it otherwise.

    • balconesfault

      Bizarrely, the GOP seems to have doubled down on the radicalism that alienated a large segment of their base to begin with, driving out a lot of the temperamentally conservative but largely nonideological voters they used to count on.

      With Bush’s last few years in the White House turning into such a debacle … followed by the most recent surge of GOP governors whose primary interest isn’t the well-being of their citizens but in driving through an ideological agenda more responsive to the Koch brothers than to their electorates … the idea that the Republican Party is capable of governing is becoming more and more soiled.

      But then, when you regard governing as a usurping of your constituents freedom, I guess that’s inevitable.

  • IntelliWriter

    I have family members and friends who are Republicans and they were absolutely appalled by the Republican Congress over the debt-ceiling debate, and they are especially appalled at the Tea Party in general. As long as the Republicans swerve further and further to the right and continue to look as if they have no interest in forwarding America’s interests over their own, Obama should win handily.

  • jnail

    The other important item to consider is that the only important focus for Obama is 10 or so swing states and the independent voters there.

    That makes the re-elect dynamic that much easier and the challenger’s job that much harder.

    Extremism brings zero votes in in these major states and in fact will turn folks off in places like Ohio and PA.

  • tommyudo

    Obama is personally popular with a broad section of the electorate. Fox viewers and their wacky Tea Party friends are no more than 30-35% of the electorate. In the coming months he will probably put together job iniatives, only to see them run up against the radical GOP in the House and Stonewall McConnell in the Senate. He’ll run against a do nothing Congress and win. If he wants to win with a margin, then he puts Clinton as VP and have Biden go to Sec. of State. Then Clinton runs in 2016, where she will be about the same age as Reagan was, and younger than McCain in 08. An Obama/Clinton ticket is the sure fire recipe to watch the Right Wing totally self destruct in incoherent rage.

    • Bunker555

      +1 tommyudo
      This has probably been the plan all along for Obama to get the Clinton clan and base to support him in 2008.

    • jakester

      Trouble is that the tea party types are motivated and energized while most of the liberals and left just mope around.

      • John Q

        Trouble is that the tea party types are motivated and energized while most of the liberals and left just mope around.

        Yep – go by DailyKos, and hark the wailing and gnashing of teeth.

  • sublime33

    Despite the noise level of the right, they haven’t been able to convert very voters to their side despite all of the efforts from FOX News, talk radio, e-mail chain letters and Facebook postings. They have been successful in keeping up the enthusiasm level for their followers, but can they really outdo what they did the last three presedential elections? Their fans all vote Republican anyway, so their best strategy is to discourage Democratic voters from showing up to vote, a common disease among Democrats. But the new Republican governors of Florida, Wisconsin and Ohio may be Obama’s best ally in 2012, because there is a lesson in what happens when Democrats stay home.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    Gained four seats
    Gained two seats
    Gained one seat
    South Carolina
    Lost one seat
    New Jersey
    Lost two seats
    New York

    So lets not forget the census into the factor. Republicans are likely to pick up 8 votes at least over the last election holding serve. I also don’t see Obama winning NC again nor Va.

    Using 2004 results, Bush would have won 295 instead of 286. Obama will have to win either Florida or Ohio.

    • Candy83

      Frumplestiltskin writes: “Using 2004 results, Bush would have won 295 instead of 286. Obama will have to win either Florida or Ohio.”

      … 292. (Not 295.)

      George W. Bush carried his home state of Texas and Dick Cheney’s home state of Wyoming. With those in his 2000 and 2004 columns, Bush also carried the following in his two elections: Alabama; Alaska; Arizona; Arkansas; Colorado; Florida; Georgia; Idaho; Indiana; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Mississippi; Missouri; Montana; Nebraska; Nevada; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Utah; Virginia; and West Virginia. In both elections, Bush carried 29 states. In 2000, he won New Hampshire; it became the only state he didn’t retain in 2004 as he countered with flipping Iowa and New Mexico (both were narrow misses in 2000).

      Bush’s 2000 map, reflective of the 1990s U.S. Census Bureau results (applicable to Elections 1992, 1996, and 2000), gave him 271. In the 2000s, that would have been a total of 278. In 2004, his electoral-vote count, reflective of the 2000s U.S. Census Bureau results (applicable to Elections 2004 and 2008), was 286. Three states changing colors gave him a net gain of 8 electoral votes. (With 1996 Bill Clinton, he gained 9. Official record, of course, makes it for Bush a total of 15.) But the map at 270toWin.com shows that the 2004 Bush map would add up, thanks to the 2010s U.S. Census Bureau results (applicable to Elections 2012, 2016, and 2020), to a total of 292 electoral votes. (Link, showing the 2004 map with 2010s reallocation of electoral votes, follows this paragraph. I have it keyed in as an Obama-vs.-Perry scenario — just for the laughs — but please keep in mind that no electoral map has been duplicated.)


      >> A note about Florida and Ohio: Saying Obama has to have them in 2012 is saying nothing new. Republicans have been needing them more (because of their failure to reach 300 in the Electoral College the last two decades! GOP were winning past 400 in the 1970s and 1980s.). They’re not just swing states … they’re bellwether states. Ohio has voted with the winner in every election since 1896 but with exceptions of 1944 and 1960. Florida has gone with the winner in all elections since 1928 but with exceptions of 1960 and 1992. Since the first post-World War II election of 1948, Fla. and Ohio have agreed in all but 1992 (when Bill Clinton missed, by 1.9%, flipping Fla. on unseated incumbent George Bush). It’s highly likely — given their margins spreads were no greater than 5 (from Obama’s national 7.26%; and that’s a trend since the 1990s with the two states vs. national performance of the winner) — that Fla. and Ohio will once again vote with the winner in 2012. (Re-election for Obama … or unseating of Obama by his Republican challenger.)

  • ottovbvs

    ‘Also – and this doesn’t really fit into either category – I think the GOP base will be much more highly motivated to vote next year and will turn out in larger numbers.”

    The Republican base couldn’t have been more highly motivated than they were in 2004 and the best they could manage was 62 million votes the highest Republicans have ever achieved in recent (all?) times. I doubt they’ll manage that again but assuming they do I repeat if the turnout is above 125 million Obama almost certainly wins. I think you’re being unduly pessimistic about younger, hispanic and black voters in the intense political atmosphere of a general election. I could well be wrong but I’ll guess we’ll see.

  • Graychin

    Obama is in big trouble in 2012 unless his opponent is that “Generic Republican” who polls so well against him.

    All the other Republican candidates are unelectable.

  • jakester

    At best most of Obama tepid support comes from more intelligent and reasonable people who don’t want some typical theocon teaparty type. But Obama is not generating much more than a cynical, “He’s better than Bachmann or Newt” choice, hardly an enthusiastic crowd. Meanwhile Bachmann can out draw him in crowd support in most places.

    • ottovbvs

      “Meanwhile Bachmann can out draw him in crowd support in most places.”

      Total nonsense. Obama can pull huge crowds wherever he goes to speak.

    • jamesj

      I voted for Reagan and I honestly think Obama has been almost saintly in office. The man has endured some of the ugliest, least-rational political attacks I’ve seen in my lifetime and he’s come through it all with a steady hand and a consistent push for rational policy. He’s got one half of the legislative branch openly taunting sleeping giants with the fate of the nation in the balance and he just soldiers on, modestly doing what little good he can. His economic policy has certainly been to the right of Bush or even Reagan in many respects. His foreign policy has been sober and methodical, refusing to cut and run but also keeping an eye toward steadily and slowly decreasing our investment in blood and treasure. What’s not to like from a traditional Conservative standpoint?

    • Oldskool

      And then there are those who think he’s the best possible president on the planet. He’s even better than Bill Clinton would be at this point in time and some say he was or is the best politician of his generation. No need to even consider a Republican, now that their party has come completely unhinged.

  • abc123

    It’s still going to be about the economy. If people blame Obama, Perry/Romney win. If people blame Republicans (or if the candidate is Bachman), Obama wins.

    • chephren

      So what you’re really saying is that it’s all about the economy, unless the GOP is dumb enough to nominate a nutcake.

  • minefield

    There are a lot of people who voted for Obama the first go round that are extremely disappointed in his hard turn to the right. But even given that, there is no way they would vote for someone even further right, so they will sick with Obama since they believe there is no other choice, and so the base that voted for him the last election, will still vote for him even though they really would rather not.
    The real question is, can Obama convince the people who didn’t follow the extreme right of the tea party movement, but have always been die hard GOP’ers, to vote for him.

    • ottovbvs

      “The real question is, can Obama convince the people who didn’t follow the extreme right of the tea party movement, but have always been die hard GOP’ers, to vote for him.”

      Not really. The real question is whether Obama can get all the people who voted for him last time, who you concede will vote for him again (even if some are unhappy), to turnout and vote. If the turnout is the same as last time he has this in the bag. Republicans know this which is why the field is so thin.

    • sublime33

      A lot of politicians get re-elected because they have enough voters who hold their nose and vote because the alternative is deemed as much worse. It worked for Bush in 2004 and turned a potentially close election into a rout for Reagan in 84. It did not work for Bush Sr. in 1992 as Clinton convinced enough voters that he was a “different type of Democrat”. Republicans can’t use that in 2012 and get nominated – see John Huntsman. Or, the more publicized “different type of Republicans” like Michelle Bachman might get nominated but would get crushed in a general election.

      • ottovbvs

        Holding your nose is one way of looking at it. The other is can I be sure this guy won’t do anything stupid. There were big questions over Bush junior on both occasions when he just squeaked home. In this department Obama is currently winning hands down.

  • Slide

    Interesting poll today. It seems that this huge victory for the GOP on the debt ceiling vote was not such a huge victory after all. At least not in the minds of the voters:

    “TPM has been reporting for weeks about the effect of the debt debate on individual political leaders and the subsequently low ratings of Congress. But new data from a CNN poll shows that there’s been a difference in the minds of many Americans:

    the Democratic Party is getting a split on approval/disapproval at 47 – 47,

    but the Republican Party disapproval rating is all the way up to 59%, against a 33% approval.

    The GOP approval rating has been going down in the CNN poll since their 2010 victories: in the October 27-30 version, the Republican Party had a small plurality in approval, at 44 – 43. But since last fall’s election they’ve seen a steady downward trend in the survey, to the current low, which is the highest disapproval rating in the CNN poll in the last twenty years.

    The Tea Party itself actually has a lower disapproval rating at 51% than the Republican Party, and only a slightly lower approval rating at 31%.


  • ottovbvs

    “It seems that this huge victory for the GOP on the debt ceiling vote was not such a huge victory after all.”

    The problem for democrats is that too many of them see it that way when in fact Obama got most of what he wanted without actually conceding all that much as this Economist comment points out: