The Washington Post

The GOP’s electoral vote problem — and 4 ways to fix it

In our Monday newspaper column, we detailed Republicans' mounting problems with the electoral map. The math is daunting: Over the past six elections  -- from 1992-2012 -- the Republican presidential nominee has averaged 210 electoral votes while the Democratic nominee has averaged 327 electoral votes. The last time a Republican nominee got more than 300 electoral votes was 1988.

Given that reality and the changing demographic nature of the country, it seems apparent that Republicans need to re-think their approach to the map in 2016 and beyond. We outlined four ideas on how to do that in our piece.

1. Win Florida: It seems simple, but Republicans lost the Sunshine State to Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. Prior to 2008, Democrats had carried Florida in only one presidential election since 1980 — and that was in 1996, when Bill Clinton took 48 percent in a three-way contest.

2. Give up on New England: The six states that make up the New England (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island) have a total of 33 electoral votes. Texas has 38 electoral votes by itself.

3. Get the South solid again: One of the keys to Republican electoral-college dominance during the 1980s was the consolidation of the South behind its presidential candidates. That lock-step support has eroded in recent elections, with Obama winning Virginia in 2008 and 2012 — he’s the first Democrat since Lyndon Johnson in 1964 to do it even once — and coming very close in November to repeating his 2008 victory in North Carolina.

4. Find a new big state to win: Of the six states with the largest electoral-vote troves — they allocate 191 votes among them — Republicans won just one (Texas) in the past two elections. Florida, as we noted above, is a must-have big state for Republicans. But they probably need one more — a state the party hasn’t been able to win in the recent past.....Pennsylvania, which was the sixth-closest state in 2012 (Obama won it by just over five points), is the obvious choice.

Those are our four best suggestions for how the GOP can fix its electoral vote problem. What one thing do you think the party should do to get itself back to 270 electoral votes? We'll pluck out some of the best suggestions in the comments section and append them to this post.

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!
Comments
Show Comments
The New Hampshire primary is Tuesday. Get caught up on the race.
The Post's Dan Balz says ...
This was supposed to be the strongest Republican presidential field in memory, but cracks are showing. At Saturday night's debate, Marco Rubio withered in the face of unyielding attacks from Chris Christie, drawing attention to the biggest question about his candidacy: Is he ready to be president? How much the debate will affect Rubio's standing Tuesday is anybody's guess. But even if he does well, the question about his readiness to serve as president and to go up against Clinton, if she is the Democratic nominee, will linger.
Listen
Play Video
New Hampshire polling averages
Donald Trump holds a commanding lead in the next state to vote, but Marco Rubio has recently seen a jump in his support, according to polls.
New Hampshire polling averages
A victory in New Hampshire revitalized Hillary Clinton's demoralized campaign in 2008. But this time, she's trailing Bernie Sanders, from neighboring Vermont. She left the state Sunday to go to Flint, Mich., where a cost-saving decision led to poisonous levels of lead in the water of the poor, heavily black, rust-belt city. 
55% 40%
Listen
Play Video
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
State of the race

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.