Winning the electoral college and losing the popular vote is a concept that we are not strangers to in American politics. It has happened a handful of times, with the most recent occurrence being the 2000 contest between George W. Bush and Al Gore.
In that race, Gore won 51,003,926 votes to Bush’s 50,460,110. However, Bush came away with 271 electoral votes in a race where 270 wins it. Gore went home a loser with only 266.
This has also happened two other times in American history. Interestingly enough, both Presidents who were elected this way were Republican as well. In 1876 Rutherford B. Hayes lost the popular vote by nearly 300,000 and still won the election, and in 1888 Benjamin Harrison managed a win while losing by 100,000.
So the question remains, could it happen in 2012? With the way the Romney campaign is running, I say yes…
I have been noticing a very interesting trend in social media, Save Jerseyans, especially among citizens of our own great state.
So many political observers are asking what Mitt Romney’s commercials are like, because they simply have not seen any. Being a state crammed between two massive media markets, usually political commercials running constantly to annoyingly remind us of the decision most of us have already made for the November election. But this year things are different. Here in New Jersey we are seeing Obama commercials every so often, but the Republican challengers and their supporting SuperPACs are not laying down the dollars for New York and Philadelphia air time. And why should they? New York is the last state on Mitt Romney’s list for a potential victory, and of all the swing states that might be in play, Pennsylvania also finds itself somewhere near the bottom.
This is because unlike the Obama campaign, where a national effort is being made, Governor Romney is running a short list state campaign.
Virginia, Ohio, Nevada, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and now, thanks for Paul Ryan, Wisconsin, are the only states on the Romney Radar in 2012. The math is there. By winning a handful of these states, most notably Ohio and Florida, Romney can snatch victory from President Obama without having to drop any serious cash anywhere else.
Lets be honest, we have all seen the Electoral College map since the Reagan Administration. Almost all of the states in the middle of the country are red while the heavily populated states on the west and northeastern coasts tend to be blue. Experience and polling tells us that this general rule is unlikely to shift much, if at all, this year. President Obama is still going to clean up in places like California, New York, and Connecticut, while Mitt Romney takes first place in Texas, Georgia, and Tennessee.
So if that is the case, why spend money in the blue states at all? Well one argument for spending money there could be to help nationwide polling and perception.
You see, President Obama is outspending Mitt Romney right now quite a bit. They are running ads in many more states and trying to smear Romney’s record since they cannot run on their own. As a result voters in places where President Obama is already going to win are being touched by his campaign on at least a weekly basis. They are not being persuaded by the GOP. A fence sitting in California is not hearing the right side of the argument and thus will more likely fall to the President’s line of attack. This skews the national polls in the President’s favor and gives a general perception that the President has more support nationwide than will actually matter on November 6th.
Because the fact is, Mitt Romney could get exactly zero votes out of California or New York and still win the election. So why even bother? That seems to be their thinking, and it is certainly a risk, but if the money is spent well and actually makes a difference in the swing states, then its a gamble that will pay off.
A very logical outcome of this strategy could be exactly what my headline suggests. That Mitt Romney, by not spending any meaningful amount of money in non-swing states, could leave the Democrat-leaning margins in the blue states so untouched that those heavily populated states could tip the popular vote to Obama while he misses the 270 electoral votes required for a second term.