Now that Obama appears almost certain to be the democratic nominee [1, 2, 3] (even with Clinton on track to win West Virginia and Kentucky by ~2:1 margins it should be over by May 20, though she might not admit it to herself ;) the question becomes ‘How can Obama win the 2008 general election?’ And I have a nice map site to help me illustrate :) The goal is the 270 electoral votes needed to win.
These are my basic assumptions:
1. The states that voted for both Gore in 2000 and Kerry in 2004 will almost certainly vote for Obama in 2008; this gets Democrats 248 votes immediately.
2. I will give McCain the benefit of the doubt and give him each state where he’s currently polling favorably (>5% in his favor). I will give Iowa to Obama as they voted for Gore in 2000 and currently are polling in Obama’s favor (NOTE: polls will change between now and November and thus recalculations will be needed! e.g. watch New Hampshire).
3. Of the remainder, states which Clinton neither won in 1992 nor 1996 and which Obama is not leading (curiously enough, they’re the same right now ;) go to McCain. (NOTE: as in #2 except this should be more stable; if any do get Obama leading I would switch them to undecided unless it was >10%)
The result of all this is that (currently) just four states are in play:
Nevada, Colorado, Ohio and Florida
Yes, again with Ohio and Florida; ugh. Let’s hope that Obama picks up significant support in some of the other states (perhaps via a VP candidate? :)
Update: a very interesting article about how Obama could win simply by increasing voter turnout…
Update 2: linked from the above article is this very interesting set of maps. Note the “best case” (for Obama) scenario at the bottom; of the sixteen states that Bill Clinton never won in ’92 or ’96 (AK, UT, ID, WY, ND, SD, NE, KS, OK, TX, IN, VA, NC, SC, MS, AL), Obama actually has a small chance in five of those: TX, IN, VA, NC, SC. It would be an amazing coup if Obama could win Texas, though of those, it looks like his best chances are in Indiana and Virginia.
Also interesting is that if you take the 2004 results and do the following switches: NH -> Rep.; IA, NV, CO, NM -> Dem (see this page), Obama can win without West Virginia or the south…