Friday, November 12, 2010

Is Barack Obama's Electoral Map Now Smaller?

By Jonathan Martin/Politico ~ Two years after his dramatic expansion of the electoral map paved the way to a landslide win, President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign appears likely to resemble the political trench warfare that marked the 2000 and 2004 presidential races.

Last week’s midterm elections saw the trio of conservative-leaning states Obama captured in 2008 — Virginia, North Carolina and Indiana — return to their Republican tendencies while more traditional swing states also broke sharply toward the GOP.

Perhaps most worrisome for Democrats, Rust Belt and Midwest states that had been trending toward the party even before Obama’s election saw Republicans pile up victories. In places such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, where the president won with double-digit margins two years ago, the GOP captured offices up and down the ballot and demonstrated that they remain politically competitive in those states.

Midterm elections are notoriously flawed indicators for subsequent presidential races. And in an era of political fluidity, where an agitated electorate is quick to register its discontent, much can change over the span of two years. But overwhelming Republican gains this year, combined with President Obama’s descent in the polls and an economy that is lagging badly in critical electoral battlegrounds such as Florida suggests a return to a national election measured in political inches, in which the two candidates vie for advantage on the familiar terrain of Hamilton County, Ohio, and along Florida’s I-4 corridor.

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