The next president will not be elected on November 6, 2012. The nationwide popular vote on that day means nothing. Doubters are referred to never-were Presidents Al Gore and Samuel J. Tilden, plus the elections of 1824 and 1888. Four times in our democratic history the popular vote winner did not become the next president.
Our next president will be elected on January 6, 2013. That's the day when Congress officially counts the ballots cast in the Electoral College. To win that election you need 270 votes. Here's a news flash: Barack Obama is a certain winner when the real votes are counted next January. Forget what the TV pundits tell you. Pay no attention to the chattering class as they make their living by handicapping the so-called horserace. That race is run. It's a done deal. Voting patterns in the states clearly indicate which electoral votes will go to the Democrats and which will go Republican. After that, then you have what are called swing states, which might go to either party. What the pundits won't tell you today -- because there's so much air-time to be filled on TV and so many columns to be written between now and next November -- is that President Obama already has enough electoral votes in those states he is sure to carry that the final result is already known.
We've been told that the Obama/Biden ticket managed to win the 2008 election because they won nine states that had been carried by the Republicans in 2004. Most pundits and political analysts point to Obama winning Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Indiana and Ohio as the keys to his 2008 victory. How often did we hear that the election hinged on who could win Ohio and Florida? And yet, what is often -- no always -- overlooked is this essential constitutional fact: Once you've reached 270 in the Electoral College, that's it. It's over. You win! All additional votes are just that -- additional. They are unnecessary. The outcome is secure at 270. The 2008 election was not a close one in the only vote count that mattered. Barack Obama won 365 Electoral votes. John McCain won only 173. The difference in Obama's favor was 192 votes. More important, Obama had a cushion of 95 votes. He didn't need all 365. He only needed 270. How important are those extra 95 Electoral College votes today?
It's a statistical fact that to win reelection on January 9, 2013 President Obama does not need any of these so-called "crucial swing states" -- Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Indiana or Ohio. Why? Because those five states only account for 86 Electoral votes. Remember, the cushion is 95. Here's the breakdown of states, with their Electoral College votes, states I believe Obama is sure to win again:
WEST: California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii and Nevada = 84
SOUTHWEST: New Mexico, Colorado = 14
MIDWEST: Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan and Nebraska (1 vote) = 63
EAST: Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island,
Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland
and Washington, D.C. = 112
The total is 273. That's more than enough to be reelected. Notice that the states of Florida, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana, every one carried by Obama in 2008, are not included in this winning reelection total. Notice too that not a single state won by McCain in 2008 is needed for Obama to switch for him to win again this time. The Republicans can keep every one of McCain's states and they can add all five swing states including Ohio and Florida. Obama still wins.
Skeptics of this position may argue that Obama could lose some other states that he won in 2008, not counting those I've already eliminated. That list usually includes New Hampshire and Nevada even though Obama won those states by 10 and 7 points respectively -- not exactly close. But what if Obama should lose those states too? That would be 10 more Electoral votes gone. However, winning and losing new states is a two-way conversation. What if Obama wins Missouri this time out? He almost won it in 2008. McCain squeaked in by a hair, one-tenth of 1%. Now, that is a close one. Obama winning Missouri is statistically far more likely to happen than him losing either New Hampshire or Nevada. But if he did lose them both that would also be 10 Electoral votes. An even trade -- give 10, get 10. Obama still wins.
Some may say that a truly charismatic, dynamic and exciting Republican presidential candidate has the potential to do this time what Obama himself did the last time, namely switch a number of key states previously won by the opposition into his column. Such a GOP nominee might indeed change nine Democratic states to Republican victories by reclaiming those once Bush states, the same ones Obama took away in 2008. Anything's possible. However, ask yourself this: Is Mitt Romney such a man? Can Mitt Romney, as the Republican alternative, sweep the nation's attention to himself as Barack Obama did in 2008? Is Romney the one? Will he galvanize voters from coast-to-coast? Will Mitt Romney bring women, young voters, new voters and people of color flocking to the polls in state after state this November? Can anyone honestly answer, "Yes"?
The official count in the Electoral College won't be held until January 9, 2013. The outcome, however, is already decided.
Follow Richard Greener on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@RichardGreener