08/23/2012 10:42 pm ET Updated Aug 19, 2013

The New Math

For all of the numbers swirling around the presidential campaign as the nominating conventions approach, each side’s equation for success can be succinctly expressed.

For President Obama, the winning formula can be reduced to 80/40. In 2008, Obama won a combined 80 percent of the votes of all minority voters, including not only African-Americans but also Hispanics, Asians, and others. If Obama matches that performance this year, he can squeak out a national majority with support from about 40 percent of whites—so long as minorities at least match the 26 percent of the vote they cast last time.

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