Saturday, April 4, 2015

Bad At Electoral Math

Political author Eric Ham predicts that Jeb Bush has the edge in the electoral college based on the 2014 midterms, and that by taking Gov. John Kasich as his running mate, he can win Ohio, or by picking Gov. Brian Sandoval, he can win Nevada and take the advantage with Latino voters nationally.

Though Pennsylvania, Virginia and possibly Colorado lean toward Clinton in an all-important White House run, no two states are more integral to any presidential victory than Nevada and Ohio, and they stand solidly in Bush's corner. Nevada has been carried by the winner in every presidential election since 1912, with the exception of 1976. Not to be outdone, since 1964, Ohio has been the only state in the nation to back the winning candidate in every presidential cycle. The advantages held by the GOP in these two bellwether states will make even Clinton's inevitability a tall climb. The Silver State leaned Democratic in 2008 and 2012, with Obama besting Mitt Romney 52 to 46 percent even in a brutal economic climate. Fast forward to 2014, and the Republicans have picked up both chambers of the state legislature. Adding to the list of Republican advantages, Gov. Brian Sandoval, one of the nation's most prominent Latino officeholders, won reelection in a landslide with a whopping 70 percent of the vote. Sandoval and Bush (no stranger to the Latino community) could provide the blueprint for reaching the crucial Latino vote and moving Nevada into the red column. Like Nevada, the Buckeye State is currently enjoying a decided red advantage that could tilt the presidency to Bush in 2016. The single biggest advantage is its immensely popular Republican governor, John Kasich. While harboring his own presidential ambitions, should Kasich decide not to run, there would be no better champion for a Bush-led ticket than him. A two-term governor and former congressman, Kasich has deep roots in Ohio. The Republican presidential nominee will also enjoy the same advantages of the Democratic National Convention, as Cleveland is the host city for the Republican National Convention. Clinton's inevitability makes her formidable, but like his brother before him, Bush recognizes the Electoral College, not the popular vote, is the difference between victory and defeat.

But as David O. Atkins points out, Ohio and Nevada will not be enough for Bush to win without the rest of the electoral college firewall that the Dems have totally collapsing.

Let’s grant Ham’s premise that Bush’s background in Florida will help any more than Gore’s background in Tennessee aided him. Let’s also grant the dubious notion that the Kasich effect and the GOP convention will somehow put the GOP over the top in Ohio. Let’s give the GOP Colorado despite its ever-more-blue demographic shifts, and let’s assume that some combination of Bush’s Spanish speaking and Sandoval’s endorsement somehow pulls Latino voters in Nevada to Bush in spite of the GOP’s rabid freakout over immigration and unwillingness to budge on the issue.

It’s a series of dubious longshots, but let’s give Bush Florida, Colorado, Nevada and Ohio. Let’s also give Bush the swing state of North Carolina (because this isn’t a discussion otherwise), and let’s assume that 2016 isn’t the year that demography overwhelms the GOP in Arizona and Georgia. Let’s also assume (as is likely but not at all certain) that every red-leaning swing state like Missouri and West Virginia falls to Bush.

Even all that still doesn’t get the GOP to more than 268 electoral votes. The Democratic nominee would still win the White House, even under that highly improbable scenario
. Bush would have to go beyond that feat to somehow pluck off Iowa, Wisconsin or Virginia just to eke out a narrow win—nor is there any particular reason to believe that will happen. Scott Walker will be dragged through the mud by grueling presidential politics, Virginia continues to solidify its Democratic core in the north, and an older white Democratic nominee is likely to perform significantly better in Iowa than even Barack Obama did in 2008 and 2012.

In other words, Florida, Ohio and Nevada aren't going to be enough for Bush to beat Clinton in 2016.  Not by a long shot.  He's going to need to get several more swing states as well, namely Colorado, Iowa, and New Hampshire without losing Missouri, Georgia, and North Carolina.

Even if Bush wins the three states Ham has him with the "advantage" in, he still loses.

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