General Election Viability as of Super Tuesday

Let’s take a couple views of the electoral map as of Super Tuesday and see how the Republican hopefuls fare.

1. If we look at the AP Delegate Tracker Map and compare it to the 2008 Electoral College Map, one of the striking contrasts is how well Romney has done in states that Obama previously won and how poorly Santorum and Gingrich have done in those states. Considering that Obama’s job approval ratings are relatively low, it seems that the Republicans have a decent chance of holding onto the states that voted Republican in 2008 and, consequently, much of the electoral game in 2012 will depend on putting states into play that Obama won in 2008. Looking at the 13 states where Obama won in 2008 and where Republicans have held primaries in 2012, we have the following results:

Romney: 10
Santorum: 3
Gingrich: 0

If we look at the states that voted Republican last time, the race is much closer:

Romney: 4
Santorum: 4
Gingrich: 2

However, I think these states are unlikely to become battleground states in 2012 given that they already cast their vote in 2008 against a President who is currently suffering in popularity.

2. If you don’t fancy my view of where the crucial battles lie, we can turn to Gallup’s list of 12 key swing states: CO, FL, IA, MI, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, PA, VA, and WS. All of these states went to Obama in 2008, so Gallup is basically taking a smaller slice of the same pie that I was looking at. Here’s how the candidates stack up on Gallup’s list of swing states:

Romney: 6
Santorum: 2
Gingrich: 0

Santorum has done best among the very conservative in the Republican primaries so far. Admittedly, he has also done well among the very liberal: in both Michigan and Ohio, he handily won the vote among Democrats who voted in the Repbulican primary, but it seems pretty clear that those voters won’t provide him a general election boost. Romney, on the other hand, seems to be doing best where a channel to victory could conceivably be opened.

It seems to me that the choice now facing Republicans is whether they want someone who can recapture the same states they won in 2008 or someone who has the best chance of bringing new states into play.

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Romney Destroys Santorum and Gingrich on Super Tuesday

We’ve seen many headlines tonight stating that the Super Tuesday states were split among the top three contenders, but the story those headlines are missing is that the delegate math delivered a much more decisive result.

Right now, Romney is leading in 7 Super Tuesday states (OH, VA, ID, WY, MA, VT, AK), Santorum in 3 (TN, OK, ND), and Gingrich in 1 (GA).

After today, Gingrich has become a non-candidate, racking up only one 1st place Super Tuesday finish (in his home state), with three 3rd place finishes, and six 4th-place finishes, and one contest in which he didn’t qualify for the ballot.

Santorum, on the other hand, in spite of racking up 3 “wins”, had a very poor showing in delegates. In all three states that he won, it appears likely that he will share a significant number of delegates with Romney. On the other hand, there are four states where Romney is picking up delegates in which Santorum will get few delegates or none: Georgia, where Santorum didn’t cross the necessary 20% threshold to score at-large delegates; Massachusetts, where Santorum didn’t cross the 15% threshold to score at-large delegates; Virginia, where Santorum didn’t qualify for the ballot; and Idaho, where it appears that Romney has captured all of the delegates by virtue of his commanding 67% majority.

And a final footnote on the battleground state of Ohio … even though Santorum had strong support among the Democrats in Ohio who voted in the Republican primary, it appears that Romney has clinched that state with 99.4% of the precincts reporting.

Check out Nate Silver’s site¬†for some great analysis and the Huffington Post’s live update site for a nice “delegate math” dashboard showing the before-Super-Tuesday and after-Super-Tuesday results. The Huffington Post is currently showing 179 Super Tuesday delegates for Romney, 64 for Santorum, and 52 for Gingrich.

Gingrich and Santorum may not figure it out for some time, but the delegate writing is clearly on the wall.