I’m not going to spend as long on the long shots, but I think the readers ought to have a quick look at the fringe states that the media is completely ignoring or erroneously fixing on throughout this campaign season.
On the left, there are two long shots – Oregon and Michigan – both of which have ingrained population distributions and political behaviors that haven’t much changed over the last three cycles and that likely remove them as Romney targets. On the right – you’ve got three long shot states – Missouri, Arizona and North Carolina. We’ll look at the left-leaners today and the right-leaners tomorrow. And we’re going to just throw the data out there and then summarize the main problem for the trailing candidate. Then we’ll give the formula you’d need to see to have the long shots flip.
Oregon – County Map (2000-2008)
Representative County: Columbia (Portland suburbs)
Oregon by the numbers:
Hopefully you can see the problem with this state. Portland, Salem and Eugene dominate the state’s population – have been gradually trending left for the last 20 years, and were enough to give Gore the state (by a fraction of a point) 12 years ago. Obama’s big score here is probably just a bump…but the drift is real, and you’re not going to enter the City of Roses and reverse the liberalization of that place now. In order to win Oregon, you need to replicate the 2000 formula and then you need to get the population surge in Portland to reverse at the polls (which is unlikely), and then you need to increase voter turnout in the sticks…which is just as unlikely. I think the state is lost despite the polls showing it as tantalizingly close.
On to Michigan:
Representative County: Gogebic (adjacent to liberal Duluth, MN)
This looks playable, right? You think – well most of the state isn’t on the fringe left and there are more right-leaning regions than swing regions – this should work, right? Wrong.
Two problems: the conservative vote is too soft – most of the conservative parts of the state just lean right…democrats pick up a good 40% of the vote outside of the cities. And actually, the populous parts of the state are in either liberal Detroit/Lansing or in swing country…a republican needs to achieve a large cultural swing, not just pick at areas that are vulnerable like in PA or VA – he needs to play to all types of people, and that includes unions and manufacturing sector employees that may not lean HARD left, but consistently lean left. The coalition in this state must be broad…if Romney wins here, it will prove that he has indeed appealed to the entire nation. These days, that is awfully tough.