“The (Obama) map is going to be smaller than 2008,” said one Democratic fundraiser who has been briefed by 2012 Obama campaign officials.
Taken collectively, the battleground states represent the cross pressures facing the two parties as they look forward to the 2012 election. In Florida, Nevada, and Ohio, the economy continues to lag badly, presenting the Obama political team with a major challenge.
In Virginia, liberal-leaning transplants from the northeast and young voters fuel Democratic optimism. In New Mexico and Colorado, burgeoning Hispanic populations will force Republicans to grapple with their continued struggles in the Latino community.
Republican National Committee political director Rick Wiley argued in a recent memo that those six states, as well as three others — Indiana, Iowa and North Carolina — that both Obama and previously Bush carried in 2008 and 2004, respectively, have moved away from the president.
As evidence of the GOP’s momentum, Wiley noted that since 2008, Republicans have won a Senate seat, four governor’s races, seven state legislative chambers and 17 House seats in those nine states combined
“His (Obama’s) path to re-election must go back through those states, but his prospects there are far from certain,” wrote Wiley. “In only two and a half years, his position in those states, and in many others, has deteriorated dramatically, and Republican strength is in plain view.”
Obama campaign officials have touted Georgia and Arizona as potential states the president did not carry in 2008 but could in 2012 because of growth in the Hispanic population. Latinos grew by 46.3 percent in Arizona over the past decade and now comprise three in every ten state residents, according to the 2010 census.
In Georgia, the Hispanic population increased by an eye-popping 96.1 percent over the last decade; Latinos now account for nearly 10 percent of all Peach State residents. ((Bill Clinton, in 1992, was the last Democrat to carry Georgia in a presidential race; Clinton won Arizona in 1996, the last Democrat to do that.)
“Our focus over the next 500 days is building the strongest organization possible in all states that might potentially be in play in 2012. Not only are we building that organization in states the President won in 2008, but were also engaging the grass-roots in states that may emerge as pickup opportunities,” said Obama campaign manager Jim Messina. “This campaign will not be built around one state.”