Throughout, this campaign, I have had my doubts as to whether Mitt Romney could defeat Barack Obama. These doubts have been due to the fact that Barack Obama has continuously held a larger base of votes in the Electoral College. That advantage has largely been due to demographic factors that keep certain states in the Democratic column, regardless of the state of the economy.
I have also continuously believed that this election would be decided in Ohio and that the winner of the Buckeye State’s eighteen electoral votes would win the election. Because of the auto bailout and the fact that the Obama campaign has the better get-out-the-vote ground game in the state, I have felt that the President is likely to prevail in Ohio.
I now have reason to believe that 1) Mitt Romney has a likely path to victory even if he loses Ohio; 2) his path to victory requires him to carry New Hampshire, a state I had previously classified as a toss-up state and Wisconsin, a state I had previously classified as “leaning Obama”; and 3) his chances of victory in these states will be significantly enhanced by the home state appeal, respectively, of New Hampshire Republican U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte and Romney’s running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan from the state of Wisconsin.
In order to understand Romney’s New Hampshire-Wisconsin path to victory, let’s look at my Electoral College projections prior to today:
SAFE OR LIKELY OBAMA: 237 Electoral Votes:
California (55), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), District of Columbia (3), Hawaii (4) , Illinois (20), Maine(4), Maryland (10) , Massachusetts (11), Michigan (16), Minnesota (10), New York (29), New Jersey (14), New Mexico (5), Oregon (7), Pennsylvania (20), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), Washington (12)
LEAN OBAMA: 22 Electoral Votes
Iowa (6), Nevada (6), Wisconsin (10)
SAFE OR LIKELY ROMNEY: 206 Electoral Votes:
Alabama (9), Alaska (3), Arkansas (6), Arizona (11), Georgia (16), Idaho (4), Indiana (11), Kansas (6), Kentucky (8), Louisiana (8), Mississippi (6), Missouri (10), Montana (3), Nebraska (5), North Carolina (15) North Dakota (3), Oklahoma (7), South Carolina (9), South Dakota (3), Tennessee (11), Texas (38), Utah (6), West Virginia (5), Wyoming (3)
LEAN ROMNEY: 51 Electoral Votes:
Colorado (9), Florida (29), Virginia (13)
TOSS-UP: 22 Electoral Votes.
New Hampshire (4), Ohio (18)
TOTAL OBAMA: 259 Electoral Votes
TOTAL ROMNEY: 257 Electoral Votes
TOSS-UP: 22 Electoral Votes:
NEEDED TO WIN: 270 Electoral Votes
If 1) Obama wins Ohio; and 2) Romney carries New Hampshire and wins away Wisconsin from Obama, Romney will have 271 electoral votes and Obama will have 267, resulting in a Romney victory.
Let’s first discuss Kelly Ayotte and her role in New Hampshire. I am a huge admirer of hers. Kelly is pro-life, but she had the political savvy to cancel her campaign appearances for America’s village idiot, Richard Mourdock, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Indiana whose recent remarks on rape and abortion appalled both pro-life and pro-choice voters throughout the nation. Because of her repudiation of Mourdock, Kelly’s stature is higher than ever in the Granite State, and she is in a strong position to enhance Mitt Romney’s chances of winning New Hampshire’s four electoral votes.
There are really only two polls to which I give maximum credibility: 1) the Rasmussen Poll, whose founder and president is Scott Rasmussen; and 2) the Monmouth University Poll, directed by Patrick Murray. Rasmussen currently has Romney leading Obama in New Hampshire, 50 to 48, within the margin of error and therefore, a virtual tie. I think Senator Ayotte’s campaigning throughout her home state during the last week of the campaign will result in a Romney-Ryan victory in the Granite State.
Let’s now turn to Wisconsin, the subject of today’s most dramatic development in the polls. The Rasmussen Poll now has the race 49-49, dead even. The trend and momentum in the Badger State, however, is clearly with Mitt Romney.
Scott Rasmussen has mentioned two other strong factors in Romney’s favor in Wisconsin. First, Obama did not flood Wisconsin with negative advertisements over the summer as he did in other swing states. Second, while Obama has the better ground game in Ohio, Romney is inheriting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s superb ground game from his victory in the recall election.
Paul Ryan will also definitely play a vital role in a Romney victory in Wisconsin. I had originally opposed his selection as Romney’s running mate – I feared that his previous positions on Medicare and Social Security would place in jeopardy any chances of Mitt Romney carrying Florida. I am happy to admit that I was wrong – Romney is now significantly ahead in Florida and is headed for a victory in the Sunshine State.
I am a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School, and I spent three years of my life as a resident of the Badger State. Paul Ryan has overwhelming appeal to blue collar workers and Catholic voters in Wisconsin. Middle class voters in Wisconsin love beer (in moderation), brats, and the Green Bay Packers. Now that Romney has the momentum in Wisconsin, Ryan will seal the deal for the ticket with these constituencies I have just mentioned.
So I am now, for the first time, predicting a winner in the presidential race – Mitt Romney. While he will lose Ohio, he will win Wisconsin and New Hampshire, giving him 271 electoral votes to Obama’s 267, as explained above. Mitt Romney will owe his victory largely to Paul Ryan and Kelly Ayotte. If Romney serves two terms, it is quite possible that the GOP ticket in 2020 could indeed be Paul Ryan for president and Kelly Ayotte for vice president.
Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush. Region 2 EPA consists of the states of New York and New Jersey, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and eight federally recognized Indian nations. Under former New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman, he served as Executive Director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission. He currently serves on the political science faculty of Monmouth University.