State/Side: State-By-State Predictions for Election Day 2012

By Staff digs into the political question on everyone's mind: who is going to win which states on November 6th?

On Tuesday, November 6th, millions of Americans will head to the polls to decide on the next leader of the free world. As of today, popular opinion polls have incumbent Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican Governor Mitt Romney in a dead heat for the Presidency.

But popular opinion or even the popular vote doesn’t always tell the whole story. In America, its not the necessarily the number of votes you have, it’s where they are.

The following is a state-by-state breakdown of America’s electoral colleges. The numbers next to each state represent the number of votes the they hold. The magic number to win the Presidency? 270, half plus one of the total 538 electoral colleges represented. Based on recent polling and campaign issues, we’ve called which way the state is likely to fall; keep track with our running total at the bottom of the page. 

Alabama – 9

During the arduous Republican primary process, Alabamians favored the more hard-line policies of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich to the oft flavorless pandering of Mitt Romney. But now that he’s the last man standing, they’ll take him; just right of center is still better than just left of it for the notoriously conservative Deep South. Advantage: Romney.

Alaska – 3

With only three electoral votes, and detached both figuratively and literally from the nation, not much polling data comes out of Alaska, but given their track record of electing Republicans (only one Democrat has carried the territory since their statehood in 1959), it’s safe to assume they sympathize with the American Right. Advantage: Romney.

Arizona – 11

Barack Obama has a tough draw in Arizona, where, by all rights, the Democrats should be able to swing the state’s growing Hispanic population based on their immigration policies not being an arcane throwback to the Dark Ages, but the Republicans have held these borderlands since about that same time, and, unfortunately, many of the immigrants affected by the policies aren’t eligible to vote. Advantage: Romney.

Arkansas – 6

Arkansas has pulled the trigger thrice on Democrats in the past 40 years; twice to elect native son Bill Clinton and once, reluctantly, to run the undemocratically “elected” usurper Gerald Ford out of office. The rest of the time they’ve been red, and it’s a safe bet to call the state again for the Republicans in 2012. Advantage: Romney.

California – 55

With its 55 electoral college votes, California is November’s biggest prize. Though it’s the traditional home of big-time Republican ringleaders, deep-pocket, pro-business backers who definitely favor Romney’s economic model, the state’s sheer numbers and pluralistic demographic favors Obama vote-for-vote. Advantage: Obama.

Colorado – 9

Barack Obama did well to take Colorado in 2008 with a decisive nine-point victory over neighbor John McCain (Arizona), but he’s in danger of losing the state in 2012; the latest polls show Romney as a slight favorite, with voters having more faith in his ability to manage the economy and handle homeland security. Advantage: Romney.

Connecticut – 7

Twenty years ago, Connecticut was a Right-wing holdout in the East, but the state hasn’t so much as elected a Republican senator to office since 1982. The few Republicans who do call Connecticut home will likely come out in force behind Mitt Romney, but it’s unlikely they’ll come out of the woodwork in such numbers as to elect him. Advantage: Obama.

Delaware – 3

This is another safe bet for the Democrats out East. Delaware’s Republican Party is in severe disrepair, having split the state senate vote in 2010, electing noted Tea Party activist Christine O’Donnell to the nomination only to be crushed in the general by the Dems. Put simply: even if Delaware were a Republican state (it’s not), it doesn’t have enough organization to line up behind a single, center candidate. Advantage: Obama.

District of Columbia – 3

The Vatican of the Electoral College, D.C., with so many political lifers in its population, has never voted Republican, catapulting Democratic candidates to office with typically over three quarters of their voting populace. For the Democrats, losing these Electoral College votes would be like losing the America’s Cup, you know, before we lost it. Advantage: Obama.

Florida – 29

The swingingest of the swing states, Florida’s 29 electoral votes would be a coup for Mitt Romney and the Republicans’ quest for the White House. Between the housing crisis in ’09 and sky-high unemployment rates, Florida has had a rough four years and has no kind words for the Federal government. Their displeasure could very well manifest itself at the polls on November 6th. Advantage: Romney.

Tally: Barack Obama - 68, Mitt Romney - 67

Georgia – 16

The heart of the Bible belt, Georgians certainly won’t favor Obama’s stance on gay marriage and probably lean closer to Mitt Romney on most socio-cultural points anyway. For the Democrats to shake anything up in this area, they’d need a strong home grown candidate. Or another Ross Perot siphoning votes from the right. Advantage: Romney.

Hawaii – 4

Number of American presidents born in Hawaii: one. If you think for a second that the oft-forgotten state, garnering attention only during Pro Bowl season, is about to vote against their most famous embattled expat, you’re wrong. Advantage: Obama.

Idaho – 4

As Utah goes, so usually does Idaho; with a substantial Mormon population (about 25 percent), Idaho’s lean is not particularly difficult to decipher. Even without the Mormon vote backing Romney, Idaho has a track record of Republicanism; the last Democrat they elected was LBJ way back in ’64. Advantage: Romney.

Illinois – 20

Illinois, Indiana, Ohio. These are kingmaker states that decide presidential elections. If Obama is to win, he needs to hang on to the majority of them; if Romney wants the nod, this is where he needs to make some inroads. Illinois, Obama’s political homeland, is a safe bet to stay blue; it’s the state’s neighbors to the north and east that matter most. Advantage: Obama.

Indiana – 11

Since his upset win in Indiana on election night 2008, Obama has made numerous trips to the Hoosier State, which took a hard hit during the recession. Composed mostly of small, single-industry towns, Indiana has had a rough ride during Obama’s presidency, and another miraculous win seems out of the question. Advantage: Romney.

Iowa – 6

Iowa is largely considered to be the eye of the storm in close elections; their six electors can swing either way, but considering how close the Republican primary was, it may be safe to assume that Iowans aren’t really thrilled by any Republican candidate and may again favor the president. Advantage: Obama.

Kansas – 6

Kansas is another Republican stronghold, one that almost gave John McCain a clean sweep of its 105 counties in 2008. There is nothing in the polling data to indicate that sentiment is faltering, so we can safely tally another six electors for Romney. Advantage: Romney.

Kentucky – 8

Another state in which the Democratic primary did not bode well for the embattled incumbent. With only Obama on the ticket, registered Kentucky Democrats favored wavering with “uncommitted” rather than throw their support behind the president. That spells trouble come the general. Advantage: Romney.

Louisiana – 8

The polling graphs for Louisiana look startlingly dissimilar to any other state; whereas most states have consistent fluctuations (even if they vary in scale), Louisiana’s polling has seen the Republicans on a steady rise all through the campaign, never once dropping off for any reason. The Democrats? They’re flatlined somewhere around the 35 percent mark. Advantage: Romney.

Maine – 4

Maine’s congressional district method of voting (one of only two states that does so) allows for their Electoral College votes to be split: two to the overall winner of the state and the other two to the winner in each congressional district. Since its inception a split has yet to occur, and with Obama polling well across the state, it looks unlikely that history will be made. Advantage: Obama.

Tally: Barack Obama - 102, Mitt Romney - 120

Maryland – 10

Anyone who has invested any time into watching David Simon’s The Wire can probably tell you a few things about how the politics of Maryland work and where the power lies. It’s often in the hands of the preachers who preside over the predominantly black congregations, and where Obama’s socio-economic policies are applauded, his newfound approval of gay marriage is not. Still, the state should show up for the Democrats, just maybe not by the margins of years past. Advantage: Obama.

Massachusetts – 11

One might think Massachusettsians might favor their former governor for a presidential nod, but not over an incumbent Democrat whose entire first term was spent passing a piece of legislation that originated in the Bay State, even if that legislation was first passed by Mitt Romney himself. Advantage: Obama.

Michigan – 16

Mitt Romney has some theoretical advantages in Michigan: it’s his home state, his father was a well-liked governor, and Democratic victories in the last 20 years haven’t been overwhelming. But he’s got some explaining to do regarding his opposition to the Obama-approved auto industry bailout which basically kept Michigan afloat during the recession. Michigan owes its 16 votes to Obama, plain and simple. Advantage: Obama

Minnesota – 10

Minnesota represents the western edge of Democratic strength in the Midwest, and its 10 Electoral College votes are critical to Obama’s reelection. Polls are currently giving the president a seven-point edge over Mitt Romney, who fumbled the state in the primary, losing the popular vote to Rick Santorum and the delegates to Ron Paul. Advantage: Obama.

Mississippi – 6

Polling in 2008 indicated that self-identified born-again or evangelical Christians make up almost half of the state’s voting population. They will not be thrilled by President Obama’s stance on gay marriage. This is a Republican fortress anyway, unlikely to be penetrated by any left-leaning sentiments. Advantage: Romney.

Missouri – 10

Hands down the most surprising state in the 2008 campaign, John McCain carried Missouri by only about 4,000 votes. Many Democrats thought a coup could be afoot, with St. Louis and Kansas City coming out strong for Obama, but the Left has lost ground here over the last four years; Mizzou should fall safely back into Republican hands. Advantage: Romney.

Montana – 3

Montana was, shockingly, a state in play in 2008, with the Democrats dumping considerable resources into rallying the small mining and liberal-leaning college towns that pepper the state. In the end, Obama lost by a mere 2.4 percentage points. Considering the general trend all around, that margin is expected to widen. Advantage: Romney.

Nebraska ­– 5

Nebraska is the other state that employs the congressional district method of voting, and for the first time in the state’s history, Obama stole one of the Electoral College votes away from John McCain in 2008. The reason? As usual, it was a metropolitan city center, the congressional district that included Omaha. Could it happen again? Maybe, but Nebraska is still going red. Advantage: Romney.

Nevada – 6

At one time Nevada was a staunch Republican stronghold, but as demographics change (the Hispanic population now represents almost a quarter of Nevada’s total) so do allegiances. With anti-immigration rhetoric at an all-time high in this election, Nevada is looking a little bluer than it once was. Advantage: Obama.

New Hampshire – 4

New Hampshire, a self-proclaimed coronator of presidents past, is a state in play in 2012. With Mitt Romney’s strong showing in the Republican primary and roots all through New England, the Republicans might make New Hampshire the one red state in the Northeast. Then again, John McCain rolled New Hampshire in the 2008 primary only to lose emphatically to Obama in the general. This is honestly as close a toss-up as they come in an election where four Electoral College votes matter. We’ll call it, but not confidently. Advantage: Obama.

Tally: Barack Obama - 159, Mitt Romney - 144

New Jersey – 14

People always talk about last-minute maneuvering that can make or break a close election, and while President Obama has avoided turning the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy into a soapbox issue, his handling of emergency efforts has been received with bipartisan praise, including a ringing endorsement from governor and rabid Republican attack dog Chris Christie. Advantage: Obama.

New Mexico – 5

After all the talk in the Republican primaries about sky-high fences, crocodile moats and every other arcane method of defending against an “immigrant siege” (including enlistment), it’s unlikely the Hispanic population, which makes up almost half the population of New Mexico, is going to side with the likes of Mitt Romney, no matter how ineffectively he tried to walk it all back. Advantage: Obama.

New York – 29

Upstate New York, with its conservative values, its leaves and country homes and picturesque small towns is simply no match for the more liberal metropolis of New York City. The boroughed city was likely leaning left anyway, but with Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s endorsement of Obama in response to the emergency efforts enacted after Hurricane Sandy, the Excelsior State, with its 29 electors, should line up nicely behind the president. Advantage: Obama.

North Carolina – 15

Back in May, North Carolinians voted for a statewide ban on gay marriage, an issue that has been pressed to the forefront in this election and one that Obama in recent weeks has begun to champion rather than rescind. In doing so, he may have rallied the evangelical vote against him, forfeiting the half percentage point he carried North Carolina with in 2008. Advantage: Romney.

North Dakota – 3

Romney, despite his many gaffes, is no clown. He knows what tree he’s barking up when he speaks highly of state- and federal-funded energy subsidies. North Dakota has recently stumbled into a treasure trove of shale gas, and Romney’s green energy and growth rhetoric has got the Peace Garden State’s attention. Advantage: Romney.

Ohio – 18

Even short two Electoral College votes after 2010’s reapportioning, Ohio is the ultimate swing state and has a psychic seerlike track record; the state has voted for the eventual winner in every election year save 1960, when they gave Nixon the nod over JFK. As in the other Midwestern states, Obama’s popularity comes from the metropolitan city centers; if he can mobilize that vote, Ohio should stay blue. Advantage: Obama.

Oklahoma – 7

When a Democratic incumbent running essentially unopposed garners only 57 percent of the primary vote in a state, you know you’re in trouble. This is Republican country through and through; Romney is a lock to win Oklahoma’s seven Electoral College votes. Advantage: Romney.

Oregon – 7

Though Oregon’s recent history has them down as a blue state, it’s been close and Obama’s double-digit cushion from 2008 has been slashed to about six points according to recent polls. Since registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in Oregon that’s no surprise; what will be is if the unaffiliated voters, who currently favor Romney 35 to 17 percent, turn out to vote en masse and upset. Still…. Advantage: Obama.

Pennsylvania – 20

With 20 Electoral College votes and the Democrats just eking out victories in the state in the past few elections, Pennsylvania remains a swing state, although one favoring Obama. He polls well in the city centers like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, but his rural support is waning behind weak policy decisions that affect the small coal-mining towns that make up the state. But if the Democrats can ensure high voter turnout in the urban areas, they should be able to carry the 20 electors. Advantage: Obama.

Tally: Barack Obama - 252, Mitt Romney - 169

Rhode Island – 4

What to say about Rhode Island? It went blue in a big way in 2008, giving Obama 63 percent of the vote to John McCain’s 35, and it’s not like Mitt Romney has been vigorously trying to change that. (Why would he?) This is a safe bet for four electors going blue. Advantage: Obama.

South Carolina – 9

Back in 1968 when the rest of the Deep South was busy casting ballots for George Wallace and segregationist schools, South Carolina said no thanks and voted for Nixon, swearing solemn allegiance to the Republican flag. Though they did break ranks in ’76 (voting for Carter; everyone was doing it), they’ve been a steadfast right-wing haven ever since. Advantage: Romney.

South Dakota – 3

We can pretty much wrap the entire line of states that divides the Midwest up into one big Republican machine. Montana, too. One of Obama’s poorest pre-electoral decisions in regards to the area was halting progress on the Keystone XL pipeline that, although it had considerable environmental concerns attached, would have created millions of jobs in a failing economy, a factor even the green voters may have found difficult to ignore. Advantage: Romney.

Tennessee – 11

Tennessee with its 11 Electoral College delegates is the tip of that Deep South Republican belt and is a safe state to stay red in 2012. If George Bush can roll a Democrat like Al Gore in his home state, then surely Romney can handle Obama, whose standing in the South was never really up for debate in the first place. Advantage: Romney.

Texas – 38

Texas won big in the 2010 reapportioning of the Electoral College, wrangling four more national votes. In recent years this has been the Republican holy land, and even though its Hispanic population is growing fast, even they tend to vote Republican. Even if they didn’t, flaying Democrats is one of Texas’ hardline evangelical population’s favorite pastimes. Advantage: Romney.

Utah – 6

With Idaho in tow, we can pretty much chalk up 10 electoral votes to the Romney camp based on religion alone. Whoever said there need be a separation of church and state clearly wasn’t talking about pre-electoral politics. Advantage: Romney.

Vermont – 3

Outside D.C. and Hawaii (President Obama’s so-called home state), Vermont led the Northeastern uprising that helped propel Obama to office in 2008, giving the sitting president his largest margin of victory outside the two aforementioned areas. Unlike neighbor New Hampshire, Vermont should produce another decisive victory for the incumbent. Advantage: Obama.

Virginia – 13

Republicans might not like it, but Washington is, both figuratively and literally, beginning to sprawl. As the D.C. suburbs expand into Virginia, the state’s demographics are starting to change; in 2008, Obama carried the once-Republican bunker by a six-point margin, and though this time around it probably won’t be as emphatic, it should still be blue. Barely. Advantage: Obama

Washington – 12

Not since Ronald Reagan have the Republicans been able to recapture Washington State, thanks in large part to the decidedly liberal leanings of Seattle and the Puget Sound. The rest of the sparsely populated state goes red, but it hardly matters given the concentration in these city centers. Advantage: Obama.

West Virginia – 5

To say West Virginia is unraveling for the Democrats is an understatement. The state, which once gave overwhelming support to both the Clintons, hasn’t jumped ship but it’s certainly abandoned it; governor Earl Ray Tomblin and senator Joe Manchin, both Democrats, refuse to publically back Obama, and the Dems took a serious blow in their primary, with a Texas inmate serving 17 years on extortion charges garnering 43 percent of the vote. Advantage: Romney.

Wisconsin – 10

With its ten delegates and line-straddling in past elections, Wisconsin has considerable weight to throw around. Prior to Obama, John Kerry and Al Gore held the state by only half a percentage point, and it looked like the Republicans, riding the discontent of the electorate and a hometown VP, might have been able to steal it back this time around had GOP governor Scott Walker not decided a few months ago to cut down the power of the unions. Never underestimate the power of the vengeance vote. Advantage: Obama.

Wyoming – 3

Wyoming croaked Obama in 2008, serving up the sitting president’s largest margin of defeat, a whopping 32 points. Our guess is that four years have done nothing to raise the president’s profile in the state. This looks like more than a safe bet for the Republicans. Advantage: Romney.

Final Tally: Barack Obama - 294, Mitt Romney: 244


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