Obama Doesn’t Really Have A Wider Map For November

Chuck Todd is a generally solid, lefty political analyst who occasionally lets his political leanings affect his judgment. Here’s an intriguing but skewed analysis of the electoral map that he helped create,

Obama’s wider map: About two months ago, we unveiled our early look at the electoral map. And this being the second official day of the general election, now’s as good a time as any to see where we stand in the McCain vs. Obama race.

Base Obama: CA, CT, DE, DC, HI, IL, MD, MA, NY, RI, VT (153 electoral votes)
Lean Obama: ME, NJ, MN, OR, WA (47 votes)
Toss-up: CO, FL, IA, MI, NV, NM, NH, OH, PA, VA, WI (138 votes)
Lean McCain: AR, GA, IN, LA, MS, MO, MT, NE, NC, ND (84 votes)
Base McCain: AL, AK, AZ, ID, KS, KY, OK, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, WV, WY (116 votes)

While both McCain and Obama get to 200 when adding up their base and lean states, it’s clear to see that Obama has an early edge with the map. Not only does he have a stronger base than McCain does (153 votes vs. 116), but he also has more potential pick-up opportunities. When you add toss-up and “Lean McCain,” Obama has the potential for another 222 votes outside his favored states. By comparison, McCain’s toss-up and “Lean Obama” comes to 185. Of course, potential sometimes means just that — potential. At the end of the day, Obama will likely win few, if any, of those Lean McCain states. But his reach right now seems much longer than McCain’s.

There are two problems with this analysis that I see.

The first issue is one that Todd and Company touch upon: neither McCain nor Obama is likely to win any of the states that are leaning in the other direction. Admittedly, it COULD happen, but it probably won’t.

What that means is that in their breakdown, both candidates start out with the same number of “safe” electoral votes. In other words, the “wider map” really doesn’t pan out.

Now, here’s the real kicker: given how it has been polling so far and the demographics of the state, Florida should probably be in the “lean McCain” category instead of being treated as a toss-up.

So, if we move Florida’s 25 electoral votes into the lean McCain category, here’s what we get:

Obama base and lean: 200
McCain base and lean: 225
Toss-up: 113
Electoral votes needed for victory: 270

How’s that map looking now?

PS: This doesn’t mean McCain is necessarily going to win because it could still go either way, but at least for the moment, McCain still looks more likely to come out on top in November.

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