Make sure to read the New York Times' Jim Rutenberg's excellent overview of Team Obama's 2012 strategy, which involves a healthy heaping of negative attacks on the Republican nominee sprinkled with helpful reminders about the president's counterterrorism successes.
But one nugget about the electoral map caught my eye. Rutenberg writes:
Obama's team acknowledges that it is not likely that the stars will align as well for them in 2012. But, having won in 2008 with 365 electoral votes when 270 are needed, they believe they have 95 to spare next year. That buys a lot of breathing room. Mr. Obama could lose Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, New Hampshire, Iowa and Indiana and still win re-election -- though that would mean having to win just about every other state he won last time...
Mr. Messina also said the campaign would focus on holding on to the "New South" states of Virginia and North Carolina that Mr. Obama won last time. It has gone all-out with its plan to have the Democratic convention in Charlotte in September.
That's a roundabout way of saying that Obama's team is focusing on winning Virginia, North Carolina, Nevada, Colorado (and Michigan/Wisconsin in the Democratic-leaning column) as its most logical pathway to 270 electoral votes. It means that, despite the spin they're focused at winning every state, they feel that their best chance of securing 270 electoral votes is through the upscale, white-collar coalition that propelled Obama to victory in 2008 - one I outlined in my column earlier this month. It explains the administration's decision to punt on the Keystone XL pipeline, for fear of alienating environmentalists that make up an important constituency in many of these states.
It also means Obama's pathway to victory is awfully narrow. Under this map, Obama could win with 270 electoral votes, to the Republican's 268. And it would include carrying North Carolina, the home of the Democratic convention next year, which Obama only won by 14,000 votes in 2008.