The point made by Peter Brent in yesterday’s Crikey is well made. I can add some facts to what he’s written. A quick analysis of the available figures shows that though Obama clearly won the popular vote:

Obama — 65,431,955;

McCain — 57,434,084.

(A winning margin of approximately eight million votes — the largest since Bill Clinton beat Bob Dole in 1996)

Despite this heavy defeat, McCain — or a future Republican candidate — need only change the minds of about 450,000 Democrat (Obama) voters to “switch back” to the Republican brand at a future election (2012?) for the Republicans to win back the White House — even with approximately seven million less votes. (Assuming Missouri is eventually declared for McCain); the final Electoral College Vote has Obama (365) defeating McCain (173).

States needed to swap:

  • North Carolina (15 Electoral College Votes) — Obama won by 13,692. Republicans need 6,847 people to change their mind to win the state: Obama — 350; Republicans — 188.
  • Florida (27 Electoral College Votes) — Obama won by 204,577, Republicans need 102,289 mind-changers: Obama — 323; Republicans — 215.
  • Indiana (11 Electoral College Votes) — Obama won by 26,163, Republicans need 13,082 mind changers: Obama — 312; Republicans — 226.
  • Ohio (20 Electoral College Votes) — Obama won by 206,770, Republicans need 103,386 mind-changers: Obama — 292; Republicans — 246.
  • Virginia (13 Electoral College Votes) — Obama won by 155,165, Republicans need 77,583 mind-changers: Obama — 279; Republicans — 259.
  • Colorado (9 Electoral College Votes) — Obama won by 196,658, Republicans need 98,330 mind-changers: Obama — 270; Republicans — 268.
  • New Hampshire (4 Electoral College Votes) — Obama won by 67,654, Republicans need 33,828 mind-changers: Republicans — 272; Obama — 266.

This adds to 435,343 American voters. Given a total vote for either Obama or McCain of 122,866,039 at this election, this number (435,343) represents just 0.35% of major party voters at this election! A tiny swing. Who can guarantee that the enthusiasm for electing Obama that surrounded his campaign this year will be there in 2012? One must keep in mind that these are all states that elected President Bush to the White House.

Given the prevailing winds at Obama’s back during this campaign that are not going to be there in four years time, Obama can’t afford to rely on merely goodwill to get re-elected in four years time. Obama must be able to fulfil some of the promise his campaign has advocated. If the economic circumstances become chilly during the next four years, a competent Republican candidate has every chance of taking the fight up to Obama in 2012. Competent being the operative word.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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