Path to a Mitt Romney presidency 'looks narrow on electoral map,' but Dan Rather says Mitt has 'a good chance'

Published: Monday, April 30 2012 9:00 a.m. MDT

In this April 11, 2012, file photo, Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, speaks to a crowd during a campaign event, in Warwick, R.I.

Steven Senne, File, Associated Press

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Because Mitt Romney is the Republican candidate in a polarized 2012 political landscape, he will need several electoral-college dominoes to fall his way in order to beat President Barack Obama, according to the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza.

"A detailed analysis of Romney’s various paths to the 270 electoral votes he would need to claim the presidency suggests he has a ceiling of somewhere right around 290 electoral votes. … Given the narrowness of his electoral map window, the key for Romney this fall is to win in places that (George W.) Bush, (John) McCain and other Republican nominees over the past two decades have struggled to make inroads. No Republican has carried Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes), Michigan (16) or Wisconsin (10) in any of the past five elections, for example," Cillizza wrote Sunday in a piece with the headline "Mitt Romney’s road to presidency this fall looks narrow on electoral map."

Translation: long gone are the days when a GOP presidential candidate garners 426 of the 538 electoral votes, as Vice President George H.W. Bush did in 1988.

Cillizza also noted that, with the electoral map newly reconfigured in the wake of the 2010 census, Romney would earn 285 electoral votes if he duplicated the state-by-state performance that netted George W. Bush 271 electoral votes in the 2000 election.

Additionally, Romney faces the same uphill battle inherent in any federal election where an incumbent such as Obama is running for re-election: the former Massachusetts governor must play a game of logistical catch-up.

"Mr. Romney must begin the nuts-and-bolts work of setting up a general-election campaign," Micah Cohen wrote for the New York Times' FiveThirtyEight elections blog on April 17. "In crucial battleground states, the Romney camp must hire staff and open field offices, woo volunteers and knock on doors. By contrast, the Obama campaign has been laying the groundwork for the general election for some time … (and) has already plowed millions of dollars into the beginnings of a ground game."

By way of illustration, Cohen reported that in Virginia the Obama campaign is already operating 17 field offices operated by 13 paid staffers that earn a combined annual salary of $326,812.

Despite Romney's electoral and logistical barriers to victory, long-time newsman Dan Rather thinks Romney has at least a coin-flip's chance of winning come November.

"I have no idea what kind of president Gov. Romney will make, but I do think [that] he has a good chance of becoming president," Rather told Politico in a story published Monday. "President Obama is even money at best at this particular time his odds right now are 50/50 in my book."

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