President Obama's reelection campaign manager presented five different ways for Obama to get 270 votes in the electoral college to show he's not facing such steep odds after all. But several analysts think that even though Obama has a lot of paths, each one of them is pretty tough.
"Our entire goal in '08, and especially now in '12, is to expand the map and have as many ways to 270 electoral votes as possible," Messina told reporters, Politico's Mike Allen reports. "Democrats got, in the '90s and early 2000s, involved in just fighting one path. And that was a mistake... And so we are going to be very, very neutral about all the paths and let all of them have opportunities, and see where we are next year. Our goal this year is just get as many paths as we can, and not sort of pick one and say, 'This is our baby and we're gonna try to go right after it.' Assuming Obama wins everything John Kerry won in 2004, those paths are:
The South Path: win North Carolina and Virginia for 274 electoral votes. This path should be called The Path of the Sword, because winning the South -- the Republican Party's center of power -- would be a real f-u to Obama's opponents. The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake say this path has some chance. Democrats would have to do really well in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. and not do too bad everywhere else. The Democratic National Convention will be held in Charlotte this year, which could help turn out the large population of educated people and minorities in North Carolina. National Journal's Marc Ambinder says this path "delights the campaign" because it expands the map. But Real Clear Politics' Sean Trende notes that Obama's disapproval rating in both of those states is above 50 percent.
The West Path: Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Iowa for 272 electoral votes. Obama could win these states by appealing to Latino votes as a moderate on immigration, so we dub this path The Path of Love. Trende cautions that if Republicans nominate a guy like Mitt Romney, they could win New Hampshire. And that means winning all these western states would still add up to a loss for Obama.
The Florida Path: winning Florida gets Obama to 275 electoral votes. This strategy uses the traditional Democratic map, so we call this The Path of Least Resistance. The Post notes that Florida voted for very conservative Republicans for statewide office in 2010, but Gov. Rick Scott is now the most unpopular governor in the country. And "a 43 percent approval rating in the Sunshine State will make the “Florida” path very difficult to pull off," Trende writes.
The Expansion Path: winning Arizona for 272 electoral votes. Democrats thought they could have won Arizona in 2008 if Republicans hadn't nominated the state's John McCain, the Post writes. While Obama could appeal to the Latino population, Republicans are pretty popular with whites since the governor signed a tough anti-illegal immigration bill. We call this The Path Less Taken.
The Midwest Path: win Ohio and Iowa for 270 electoral votes. We dub this The Path of Glory after the 1957 movie about French soldiers who refused to carry out a suicidal attack. Unemployment is high in Ohio; Obama's approval rating is low. Ambinder notes that "Obama is regularly losing to his Republican opponents in Ohio head to heads." And if Obama loses New Hampshire, this path won't work. Obama strategist David Axelrod told the Huffington Post's Sam Stein that Ohio will be easier to win if Republicans nominate Romney, who's business career could hurt him in the Rust Belt. Axelrod admitted Newt Gingrich would have "less to explain" there.