The Washington Post

Democrats’ electoral college edge — in 1 amazing chart

For months leading up to the 2012 election, we wrote about the clear electoral college advantage that President Obama enjoyed.  Even as national polling showed a close race, it was obvious that the incumbent had many more paths than Mitt Romney to the 270 electoral votes he needed to be re-elected.

The 332 electoral votes that Obama won on Nov. 6 not only affirmed that edge but also raised the question of whether Democrats were in the midst of the sort of electoral college stranglehold that Republicans enjoyed during the 1980s. (Ronald Reagan won 500+ electoral votes twice; George H.W. Bush won 426 in 1988.)

This chart -- put together by Brad DeLong, an economist at Cal-Berkley -- shows just how firm a grip Democrats have on the electoral map.  If the 2016 Democratic nominee carried only the states that President Obama won by 4.5 points or more last month, he/she would end up with 272 electoral votes and a victory. 

Now, things can change quickly in electoral politics. In 2004, no one was talking about Virginia and North Carolina as swing states but they quite clearly are just that now. And, it's an open question as to whether the next Democratic presidential nominee can build the same coalition -- blacks, Hispanics, young people etc --  that President Obama was able to do in both 2008 and 2012.

Those caveats aside, the electoral college math looks decidedly daunting for Republicans as they begin to prepare for 2016 and beyond.

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments
The Democrats debated Thursday night. Get caught up on the race.
The Post's Chris Cillizza on the Democratic debate...
On Clinton: She poked a series of holes in Sanders's health-care proposal and broadly cast him as someone who talks a big game but simply can't hope to achieve his goals.

On Sanders: If the challenge was to show that he could be a candidate for people other than those who already love him, he didn't make much progress toward that goal. But he did come across as more well-versed on foreign policy than in debates past.
The PBS debate in 3 minutes
We are in vigorous agreement here.
Hillary Clinton, during the PBS Democratic debate, a night in which she and Sanders shared many of the same positions on issues
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the polls as he faces rivals Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz heading into the S.C. GOP primary on Feb. 20.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 18%
Fact Checker
Trump’s claim that his border wall would cost $8 billion
The billionaire's claim is highly dubious. Based on the costs of the Israeli security barrier (which is mostly fence) and the cost of the relatively simple fence already along the U.S.-Mexico border, an $8 billion price tag is simply not credible.
Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio
The complicated upcoming voting schedule
Feb. 20

Democrats caucus in Nevada; Republicans hold a primary in South Carolina.

Feb. 23

Republicans caucus in Nevada.

Feb. 27

Democrats hold a primary in South Carolina.

Upcoming debates
Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

on Fox News, in Detroit, Mich.

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.