I'm still looking for a good interactive map for the 2012 election cycle. Here is pretty good one from Daily.Kos Electoral Map which offers a look at Pres, Senate, House and Gov races from 2000-2008. I suspect they will soon offer a 2010 & 12 update. In reviewing this map site and many of the individual states from 2000-2012, and we look back at the past 12 years we still are a 50/50 country. With this in mind the 2000 and 2004 elections were precariously close wins for Bush over Gore and Kerry. 2008 was a solid win for Obama. So I decided to look at the states McCain lost in 2008 that the 2012 candidate needs to reach 270 electoral votes, (McCain won 173 EV's).
First consider the Redistricting factor in McCain states..he picks up 7, thus we begin with 180 EV's. The Republican candidate needs to pick-up 90 votes. I have tried to put these in order of possibilities for the R's to pick-up, but I have also weighted them by EV's needed to win:
Ohio 18 EV's: No Republican has won the Presidency without Ohio. Obama 51/47 Kasich reversed that in the Gov. race in 2010 and Rob Portman did even better. (The very liberal Sherrod Brown is defending his US Senate seat, and there is a few good competitors).
North Carolina 15EV's: NC has been a solid Republican state for many years, and should likely revert to the R column, McCain lost the state by less than 1% about 14,000 votes out of 4 million.
Indiana 11 EV's: IN is also a solid Rep. state and should swing back to the R column especially with Mike Pence running for Gov. and Dick Lugar running for US Senate again. Obama won this state by less than 1%
New Mexico, New Hampshire, and Iowa 13 EV's combined: These were the 3 states in 2000 & 2004 that switched red to blue or visa-versa. Each state was close both times, Obama swept them in '08 but will be winnable by either side in 2012.
Virginia 13 EV's: Went for Obama in 2008 53-46%, (Bush won 00-04 by the reverse %ages), but Virginia has been a reliable R state for decades. While some of the media have thought they had finally dragged this state over the Red-blue line, but 2009 Gov. race, showed they trend had ended. So all things equal Virginia should fall in the R's column in 2012.
If the Republican Nominee can win all of the above that is 270; Obama loses. We don't even need Florida!
The "Bush" states is the next tier of possible States that are very winnable for the Republicans:
Colorado 9EV's: Bush won narrowly in 2000; & handily in 2004; which was reversed in 2008 by Obama.
Very swingy purple state with good shot for the Republican in 2012..The Dem's convention certainly helped build support for them in 2008.
Florida 29EV's: The Famous Florida of 2000, and the Bush decisive win in 2004, followed by the close race in 2008 where Obama won 51-48%, FL has had some very close elections since then Ric Scott won as Gov.; Marco Rubio the Tea Party darling who will be on a short list option for anyone as the VP candidate, will make this state very winnable for the R's.
Nevada 6EV's: NV was another "Bush" State that Obama picked up..and it was a split decision in 2010 on the Gov/ US Senate races. With the famous Sharon Angel TP fiasco. There was certainly some slippery stuff in Las Vegas relating to vote fraud..but "What happens in Vegas....." This time Harry Reid won't be on the ticket, and the US Senate race Heller vs. Berkeley should make the race very competitive.
The "Gore-Kerry" States that are in play:
Wisconsin EV's 10: Wisconsin is often called "The next Red state"...Wisconsin is the most talked about, watched and focused upon state in the nation since Nov. 2010. With our tremendous change in Govt. Walker, both State houses, Reince Priebus; Ron Johnson; Sean Duffy, Reid Ribble; and of course the most recognized US Congressman is Paul Ryan on the national stage. (Not to mention Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers), but I digress. Wisconsin is so enmeshed in the recall's; recounts; and revamping of our state Govt. we shall certainly remain the Knifes Edge all the way thru November 2012. The TEA Party is very powerful, and effective in this State as we demonstrated in a recent State Supreme Court election. While the Unions are showing their teeth as wild animals trapped in a corner..their ruling over Wisconsin seems to be coming to an end. Any Republican nominee will be foolish not to consider Paul Ryan for the Veep slot. If Ryan is on the ticket Wisconsin goes Red for sure.
Minnesota 10EV's: Minnesota is another very close state..that many think is a solid Dem state. but MN has had several close races in the past few years Bush came close both times, and Gov Dayton barely won, Al Franken had to cheat to win, and a few years back Norm Coleman beat Mark Dayton narrowly for Senate. It is my hope that Michele Bachmann gets in this race against Amy Klobuchar for US Senate and that could help make MN a very competitive race as well. Tim Pawlenty could also be the nominee, or a strong candidate for Veep as well, but I don't know if he adds as much to the ticket as Ryan or Rubio would.
Michigan 16 EV's: Here is the state we might consider out of reach for the Republicans, but MI has also swung dramatically in the "Red" direction since 2010, the R's control both houses of the legislature and now has a Rep Gov. again. They have a US Senate race in 2012 and Debbie Stabenow is being challenged by Pete Hoekstra, John Engler; and a few others with statewide name recognition. Add to that the very real possibility that Mitt Romney could be the nominee.. Michigan becomes a very strong likelihood for the "R's".
Pennsylvania 20EV's: I originally thought Pennsylvania would be needed to win, but I don't think it is. Bush lost it both times; We'd love to have it in our column, and it has been trending in 2010 in our direction. I would really like to see Rick Santorum go grab his Senate seat back from Bob Casey. Pat Toomey won last November, and the Rep's won the Gov job as well.
It could also be a sweep either way. It could be Reagan vs. Carter 1980, or Clinton vs. Dole in 1996. Or a Reagan-Mondale 1984.. with Obama riding to a sweep..I just don't see it likely. I think the most likely scenario is Reagan Carter 1980 and I think Obama will lose almost every state I mentioned above.