Why Obama Will Embrace the 99 Percent, por Nate Silver (New York Times):
Obama’s most likely Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, continues to rate as a “generic Republican.” In fact, he now scores at exactly 50 on the 100-point scale from centrist to extremist. That means an election against Romney, like Bush’s against Kerry, would mostly be dictated by the fundamentals of the economy and by evaluations of Obama’s job performance. With 2.5 percent G.D.P. growth from now through November, Obama would be a 60 percent favorite to win the popular vote.
The popular vote is one thing, however. The Electoral College is another — and Romney could have more vulnerabilities there.
In recent weeks, Obama has taken a more populist approach (just read the transcript of his State of the Union address). The strategy has induced more howls than usual from Republicans about “class warfare,” but the White House has clearly studied the numbers. In the Republican primaries, Romney has had trouble winning the loyalty of working-class voters, especially in the Midwest. And recent polls suggest that Romney, who has a penchant for making intemperate comments that draw attention to his wealth, could struggle among that group in the general election as well.
So let’s conduct a thought experiment. Suppose that against Romney, Obama does 10 points better among white voters whose households make less than $50,000 per year. The trade-off is that he does 10 points worse among whites making $100,000 or more and 15 points worse among whites making at least $200,000.
In terms of the popular vote, this would almost exactly balance out. The effect would be more substantial, however, in individual states.
In wealthy Virginia, Obama would lose a net of 2.5 percentage points to Romney under these rules, according to the demographics from the 2008 exit poll there. He would also be harmed by 2.7 points in Colorado. And Romney would have a chance of putting New Jersey into play, because he would gain four full points there. (...)
But Obama doesn’t need to win many new states. His challenge will be in holding the ones that might turn red. And pursuing a populist strategy against Romney could put him at a big advantage.
Consider the Midwest. By trading votes among wealthy whites for more among working-class ones, Obama would bolster his margins in Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan. Indiana, a state that otherwise looks like a very tough hold for Obama, also contains a high percentage of working-class whites, and he could gain a few points there.
All told, there are 101 electoral votes in swing states that Obama could either put into play or make more secure under the populist paradigm — well more than the 36 he might lose among Virginia, Colorado and New Jersey.
The reason for the imbalance is that most wealthy whites do not live in swing states but in enclaves that the sociologist Charles Murray calls SuperZIPs. Most of these are in states like New York, California, Maryland and Massachusetts that are very far from being competitive. (There are also a significant number of SuperZIPs in the Dallas and Houston metro areas in Texas, but Obama probably wasn’t going to win the Lone Star State anyway.)
But what if Rick Santorum were to steal the Republican nomination away from Romney? After his sweep of the contests in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri on Feb. 7, he looks like a more viable candidate — one who doesn’t seem as beholden to the 1 percent as Romney does. He has been successful at making Obama’s supposed elitism a theme of his campaign. And he is more conservative on social policy than on fiscal policy, which runs against the consensus view in the Virginia and New Jersey suburbs but puts him in line with the preferences of middle-income voters in the center of the country.
Still, Santorum, who rates as a 68 on the ideology scale (the same as a less-plausible nominee, Newt Gingrich), would probably be weaker than Romney in the popular vote. According to the model, Obama would be a 77 percent favorite to win the popular vote against Santorum given 2.5 percent G.D.P. growth.
Republicans wouldn’t care about that, however, if Santorum carried Ohio and Michigan — and perhaps even his home state, Pennsylvania — places where economic concerns tend to take precedence. Under these conditions, in fact, Republicans might be able to win the Electoral College while losing the popular vote.
Nesta linha, há uns dias uma sondagem feita apenas nos "estados oscilantes", indicava que nestes Santorum teria mais chances que Romney de derrotar Obama (mas isto foi antes de Santorum ter alegadamente sido cilindrado no último debate...). Será que os Democratas que estão a pensar votar Santorum nas primárias Republicanas para lançar a confusão não estarão a cometer um erro muito grave?