Karl Rove predicts that Mitt Romney will win at least 279 electoral college votes, and 51 percent of the popular vote to President Obama's 48 percent in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. But it's a very different prediction than the one Rove has been making on his own website. In his latest map, updated on Oct. 29 and seen at left, Rove gives Obama 221 electoral (from either solid or leaning states) and Romney has 206 electoral votes. So lets look at how Rove has to divide the remaining 111 tossup votes on his own map to get to a Romney victory of 279.
The top image is one possibility: Romney wins Ohio, Colorado, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Florida. "It comes down to numbers," Rove writes, before using a lot of words to argue why the numbers in the Ohio polls are wrong. Even after suggesting that Democrats registration and ground game advantages are overrated, Rove doesn't fully come out and say Romney will win Ohio. But he kind of has to. Romney has lead in only two of the last 20 polls in Ohio. Ohio doesn't register voters by party, but of the 1.3 million votes that have been cast, 30 percent were by people who voted in the Democratic primary, while 24 percent had voted in the Republican primary.
At right is another way Romney could hit 279: Obama wins Ohio and New Hampshire, but Romney wins Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nevada. Longtime Nevada political reporter Jon Ralston says that while Republicans are doing better than they did in 2008, Democrats are still crushing them in early voting. Democrats got a huge lead in registration for two presidential elections straight. Romney hasn't lead a poll in Wisconsin since mid-August. Romney has lead in a few polls in Iowa, but never averaged a lead at Real Clear Politics.
This might be a good time to look at the predictions Rove has made in the past, ones we can already examine in this election. In March, Rove wrote about Obama's troublingly high "burn rate" -- that he wasn't raising money nearly at the rate he needed to given how much he was spending. Worse, Obama was spending so much not because of ads, but because of a huge staff, which would take longer to shrink. That sounded awfully ominous. But in October, the Obama campaign announced it had raised $1 billion.
Then, in June, Rove wrote that Obama was blowing all his money on ads, which was futile, because Democrats could never keep pace with Republican super PACs. Now, the Obama campaign is widely credited for driving down Romney's favorable ratings with those ads, especially in Ohio, a swing state that's crucial to both men. There were three times as many pro-Obama ads as pro-Romney ones from April through mid-September. Pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA outraised pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future in September.
But maybe Rove will be right on his electoral vote prediction, the most important prediction of all, but his map suggests it's a longshot.