Under the new electoral map, Bush could have won in 2004 without Ohio

Chris Stirewalt, our political editor, writes today about the projected changes to the electoral map that will come after the 2010 Census:

Of the states gaining House seats — Texas (three) and Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington — only Washington is reliably Democratic, having last voted for a Republican presidential candidate in 1984.

Of the states losing seats and electors — Ohio (two), Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania — only Louisiana is reliably Republican.

Obviously this suggests a more favorable electoral map for Republicans in the future. You might not expect the change to be too dramatic, given that the changes produce only a six-vote swing for the 2008 Obama-McCain race, with a final result of 359 for Obama to 179 for McCain. 

But considering that many Obama states remain winnable for Republicans (for example, Colorado, Virginia, and Nevada), it's worth looking back to 2004, a much closer and more ideologically charged election contest. For that year, the swing is five electoral votes — added to George W. Bush's 286, and subracted to John Kerry's 252 (not counting his faithless elector). On the new map, the 2004 election ends with 291 for Bush, 247 for Kerry.

The bottom line: On this new map, if John Kerry had won everything he got in real life, plus Ohio's newly reduced number of electors (18) he still would have lost the election with 265 electoral votes. The projected map barely changes anything in terms of net electoral votes, but it crosses a critical threshold for Democratic presidential candidates in the next three elections.

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