Trading States to 270 – Final (Keystone) Edition

Still not sold on Romney being competitive in MI and MN being in play, but I do think PA is truly within reach, so I’ll update my guide one last time to reflect that.  Note that this does make several of the scenarios a little more complex.

And yes, there are other places where Romney has a fighting chance in, but the odds are very slim that Romney will actually win in any of those places without already getting the Electoral Votes he needs to win the presidency.  So it should be safe to ignore them and focus on the states below:

That leaves us with 8 true swing states.

Red States:

  • Colorado
  • Ohio
  • Virginia

Blue States:

  • Iowa
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • Pennsylvania
  • Wisconsin

The Red States are the swing states that Obama won by 9 points or less in 2008.  Bush won all of these states both times.

The Blue States are all the ones that Obama won by at least 9.5 points in 2008.  4 of the 5 were won by Kerry (NH), Gore (IA), or both (WI and PA)

If Romney wins the red states, he gets 275 electoral votes and becomes our next president.  While all of the states could go either way, this could be Mitt’s most likely path to the White House.

Having said that, there’s plenty of other paths that work, so let’s think of it in terms of trading states… if Romney loses X red state(s), which blue state(s) can he trade that for and still win the election?  The rest of this post will walk through the possibilities (from worst to best for Romney).

Scenario 1: Romney loses all 3 of the red states – Romney would need PA, WI, and either NV or IA to win.  Alternatively, PA, IA, NV, and NH be enough for Romney to win as well.

Scenario 2: Romney loses OH and VA but wins CO – Romney would need PA and any 1 of WI, IA, and NV.  Or the other 4 blue states besides PA would work as well.

Scenario 3: Romney loses OH and CO but wins VA – Romney would still win if he took PA and any other blue state.  Also, winning WI, IA, and NV would also be enough.

Scenario 4: Romney loses VA and CO but wins OH – All Romney would need is PA and he would be the president.  If he loses PA, Romney must win any 3 of the other blue states to win.  The only catch is that if WI is the one he loses, that would yield a 269-269 tie, so Romney would almost certainly become president, but Biden would likely be his VP.

Scenario 5: Romney loses OH but wins the other 2- Lots of possibilities here, but they are worth reading because this scenario may be the most likely.  Romney has multiple paths here… he would be president if he won PA.  Also, WI plus any other blue state would work.  Finally, winning the other 3 blue states besides PA and WI would also get Romney in the White House.  One last note… winning only NV and IA but losing PA, WI, and NH would yield a 269-269 tie, as I mentioned in a previous post.

Scenario 6: Romney loses VA but wins the other 2- Romney needs Pennsylvania OR Wisconsin OR any 2 of the other 3 blue states

Scenario 7: Romney loses CO but wins the other 2- Romney needs any 1 blue state.  Doesn’t matter which… even lowly 4 electoral vote NH is enough

Scenario 8: Romney wins all 3 red states- None of the blue states matter.  Romney wins.


I would rank Romney’s chances in the various states as follows:

VA > CO > IA > NH > OH > WI >PA > NV

Since I think Romney will win VA and CO, I would say scenarios 5 and 8 are by far the most likely.  And since I see NV as a longshot, the bottom line is that Romney will probably have to win 1 of OH/WI/PA to be our next president.


One last thing with pointing out is this article, which makes the point that because OH will likely be the deciding state and figures to have a lot of provisional ballots, there is a fairly high chance that we won’t know the winner on election night.


  1. The Lorax says:

    Biggest problem with your analysis is that you put Pennsylvania up for grabs but not Florida. Hmm.

  2. Ryan Morgan says:

    If Romney loses Florida, he’s screwed. I think everyone pretty much knows that. Scenario analysis not required.

    Having said that, Romney’s not going to lose Florida…. one interesting tidbit….

    “In Florida, 406,634 registered Democrats have not returned their mail ballots compared to 362,920 Republicans. In comparison, registered Democrats have returned 700,970 mail ballots compared to 781,043 Republicans. Thus, even though Republicans outnumber Democrats in returned mail ballots by a wide margin, more Democrats have yet to return their ballot.”

  3. Ryan Morgan says:

    Also, granted it is only about 6% of the electorate, but Republicans have a 5% edge over Dems in early voting in PA.

  4. Ryan Morgan says:

    Also, if anyone is interested, check out my new Twitter feed here

    Plan to tweet a lot on election night as results roll in. Should have a decent idea if Obama/Romney are hitting the margins they need on a county basis in the key swing states.

  5. Randy in Richmond says:

    A few days ago Obama told his supporters the reason to vote for him–revenge.

    Now Michelle Obama is running an incessant TV ad and Twitter flurry providing voters how to find out where they vote. Apparently Democrats are much dumber than I ever figured–at least as represented by their First Couple.

  6. Randy in Richmond says:

    Of course there is a method of predicting the President that is 94.4% accurate we could use. In my part of the world it’s been known about for some time now.

    It involves the Washington Redskins last home game before the election. In the 18 Presidential elections since the Skins moved to Washington, D.C. in 1937 this game has predicted the winner in 17 of the 18 elections. If Washington wins, the incumbant’s party gets 4 more years. If the Redskins lose the game, the challenger’s party wins the White House.

    Yesterday at home the skins lost 21-13 to the Carolina Panthers.

  7. I’m trying to figure out which was more unlikely. That the skins have predicted the winner of 17 of the last 18 elections or that Carolina managed to win another game.

  8. Your NFL analysis is sort of like your economic analysis – utter horseshit.

    Just be quiet, Josh.

  9. Robert, Robert, Robert. Am I sensing something personal going on here? Everyone know I lay into Mr. Strupp on occasion for disagreeing with me (uhem), but I want to let you know, if you’re going to stick around, maybe you can let the personal thing go.

    You are fun. You say some interesting things. Be good.

  10. Randy in Richmond says:

    Probably even money each way, Strupp.

    I’ve got tickets for the Eagles game at FedEx Field in 2 weeks. The Skins are probably already out of the running for playoffs. But we’re planning to tailgate–so not all is lost.

  11. You’re probably going to get to see the Nick Foles era begin for that one. Not sure if that’s a good thing or bad thing.

    Look on the bright side, RGIII is the real deal. All he needs is time and a receiver or two who can catch.

  12. ABC News/WP poll shows Obama up by 3%.

    As the election draws near, the national polls are trending in the same direction as the state polls, i.e. to an Obama electoral landslide. RCP has him at 303 EVs now.

    I think it could be even higher. It’s time for the post-mortems to begin. Romney lost, the GOP failed to pick up any seats in the Senate, and lost seats in the House. They overplayed their 2010 hand.

  13. Maybe Peter Luger’s will be a good idea after all… 😉

    Like I told my husband yesterday – if Obama wins, we can all delight in knowing it’s over for sure in four years.

  14. Virtually all the polls showed significant movement toward the President over the past week. This isn’t 1980. Even Karl Rove is out there making excuses for why Romney lost (blaming the hurricane). The October Surprise was Sandy and how good it made Obama look.

    It was always going to be an uphill battle. Romney made a few too many flip flops to be taken seriously by enough true independents to overcome Obama’s ground game advantage. He shouldn’t have gone so far to the right in order to win the nomination. There was no way the GOP establishment would have ever let Gingrich or Santorum win the nomination.

  15. BrkfldDad says:

    KPOM – it ain’t over til it’s over, you sure have selective perception. ABC/WaPo is Dem oversampled by 4%. Don’t see that happening. Worst case we are tied looking at turnout/enthusiasm. Momentum there (if Madison is any indication) is clearly not on Obsma’s side.

  16. Randy in Richmond says:

    Enjoy your world KPOM. Obama may win but not in a landslide. Where did you see Rove make an excuse for Romney losing? I’ve seen him on several different shows in the past few days and every time he has a Romney win. Did you overlook Rasmussen? Gallup? CNN? If the turnout equals 2008, Romney loses. There is nothing out there to indicate that. And nobody, me -you-nobody, knows what the turnout will be. We do know that for Obama, early voting is down whereas early voting for Republicans is up. But your negatory conclusions are just–wrong.

    This from today on Ohio.

  17. BrkfldDad says:

    Whoops, I was wrong its Dems +6 !!!

  18. BrkfldDad says:

    And now Stephanie Cutter says “stay calm” in response to noting Dems have banked most of their reliable votes already. If the other side turns out as expected, and as traditional, this sure IS over.


    You know what it’s like to be in labor? Yeah, that. Oh, please. Get this thing done.

  20. BrkfldDad says:

    Rove just released almost identical map but gave WI and OH to Obama, Romney still wins 273-265.

  21. BrkfldDad says:

    No sooner than I post that does he go on TV and now has it 285/253 Romney.

  22. You should be watching TLC like I am. 😉

  23. Obama’s up by 6 in Colorado:

    Let’s face it. Tomorrow is going to be a rout. Obama will get a mandate for his agenda tomorrow. At the end of the day, people want “free” stuff.

  24. Please, just let it be over.

    I do this every election. Hate the last couple of weeks. Swear I’ll never talk politics again. Promise to keep the house spotless and do nothing but bake.


  25. KPOM: yes, cherry pick the 10% of the polls that say Obama is winning handily and ignore the 90% that say it is a dead heat or very close to it.

    Romney made up a lot of ground just based on where the OH absentee ballots came from. He could get McCain %s in each county and he still gained over 100k votes, nearly half McCain’s margin of defeat. I’m decently confident Romney is going to pull this sucker out.

  26. J. Strupp says:

    That last sentence made me really uncomfortable for you, Ryan. Gotta give you credit. You’re putting yourself out there.

  27. Grover Norquist actually makes a lot of sense here:

    In particular, I like his comment about immigration reform. They will need to do it sooner or later. Otherwise they can write off Texas and Arizona in the future. Even W understood that. Obama keenly does, which is why he’s preserved the status quo (since it lets him look good while taking executive action of questionable constitutionality).

    @Ryan, the consensus of the national polls is that Obama is now ahead, ever so slightly. And it looks like his firewall has held. He’s at home today while Romney’s flying all over the place. That speaks volumes. Obama knows this race is in the bag. The only question is how big his mandate is.

  28. I would agree. Obama is exhausted and has given up. It’s in the bag for Romney and Obama knows it, only question is how big the Romney mandate will be.

  29. Gannett posts then pulls OH early vote results showing Romney with 92k lead. If true, that’s a huge problem for Obama as his team has been saying don’t pay attention to the exit polls, our votes are already in the bank via early voting.

  30. Re: Gannett, it was dummy data. Counting of all votes begins only after the polls close.

  31. Randy in Richmond says:

    I wonder how many Democrats, when they get to the polls, will wonder why Bill Clinton’s name is not on the ballot.