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Map Center: What If the Battleground States Go Red?

August 30, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT
Hari Sreenivasan and Christina Bellantoni explore different election night scenarios, including what the electoral map might look like if swing states go red.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Of course, we have much more on our website.  You can follow the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag PBSElection.  And you can explore Electoral College scenarios in our Vote 2012 Map Center.

HARI SREENIVASAN: We’re going to take a deep dive into the Digital Map Center that you can find on our website at

This time to help us, Christina Bellantoni, our political editor.

Thanks for being with us.


HARI SREENIVASAN: So, the first people notice on the electoral calculator is these yellow states. Why are they tossups?

CHRISTINA BELLANTONI: Well, we have taken a look at these — these are the states that the Associated Press ranks as tossups. That’s what we have in our Map Center.
And they’re tossups because it means they’re very close in the polls. It means that the voters there are still not sold on the president deserving a second term.

HARI SREENIVASAN: OK. Let’s take a look at how they broke down in 2008.
On this map, the more blue it is, the better Barack Obama did. The more red it is, the better McCain did. And every single one of these states that are battleground this time around were light blue for Obama.

CHRISTINA BELLANTONI: Yes, that’s very true.

And when you look at just sort of the general Rust Belt area, this is why it’s the Romney campaign’s strategy, because they feel like they have a real opportunity there. The president was able to win by just a slim margin of votes.

HARI SREENIVASAN: There’s also such disenchantment with the entire political system right now, part of the Listen to Me campaign of different voices from the around the country that we have been hearing.

Here’s a couple sample of some voters that are very frustrated.

KELLI GRIFFIS, Des Moines, Iowa: When a person like myself who can’t be a huge financial donor can’t even get word one with any of the candidates, that’s a pretty broken system, because those people are supposed to represent me.

DON HALL, Centennial, Colo.: I think people are afraid if they go one way or the other, that it’s going to be the wrong way. So I think you have got too many people locked in to either side to really find middle ground.

BERNIE BENITO, Las Vegas, Nev.: The most problematic thing is that there are only two parties that are fighting with each other, the Democrats and the Republicans and nothing else. And we don’t have any choice.

HARI SREENIVASAN: OK. So one of the things that you mentioned is that there are possible paths to success for Mitt Romney. What are his strategies?  We have got one of the possible calculations up on the board here.


This is obviously not what the final Electoral College map will look like. We’re not sure of that. But we have gamed out a potential scenario based on what the Romney campaign advisers are saying. Particularly, there was a briefing at the Republican National Convention where they were talking about Iowa being a state that they believe that they can flip and that’s the middle of the country there, but then also Wisconsin.

And this is one reason why, of course, they chose Congressman Paul Ryan to be Mitt Romney’s running mate because potentially he could flip the state. Now, this is important to point out that it has not voted for a Republican for president since the 1984 Reagan landslide.

Democrats say that they’re very confident there. But there have been a lot of really interesting dynamics there, which obviously we have talked about before. Florida is a really important, crucial swing states, which is of course why the convention is in Tampa. And that’s an area where the Romney campaign is very confident.

So if they are able to sort of do this Rust Belt strategy, win Florida, well, then there you see he’s gone over the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win. But it’s a difficult path. And the polls still show again with those tossups that it’s going to be very close.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Well, that’s one political strategist — or a few political strategists think about it.

Until then, this is kind of the lay of the land right now. You can do this at home. You can decide who you think is going to win all of these battleground states yourself on our Digital Map Center. That’s at

CHRISTINA BELLANTONI: And then you can share those with your friends and tweet out your results.


CHRISTINA BELLANTONI, our political editor, thanks so much for joining us.