The 2010 Census numbers have been released, with the final verdict on which states will gain House seats, and which states will lose them — and consequently, how the Electoral College landscape will change for theÂ presidential election in 2012.
All in all, states carried by President Obama in 2008 will lose a net total of six electoral votes, thus adding six votes to the McCain 2008 column — using as our basis a year when the Republican nominee lost almost every state that a GOP candidate possibly could.
If the year 2012 turns out to be a Democratic landslide, or a Republican landslide, then these small shifts won’t really matter in the great scheme of things. But if it becomes a tight race that comes down to a dogfight for every last electoral vote, like in 2000, then these changes could have a truly momentous effect on the country and indeed the world.
(Click image to enlarge.)
Obama 2008 States:
New Jersey -1
New York -2
Net change -6
McCain 2008 States:
South Carolina +1
Net change +6
Thus, if the 2008 presidential election were simply replayed with the winners staying the same across all the states, Obama would have 359 electoral votes, to the Republican nominee’s 179, compared to the 365-173 Obama win in 2008. But of course, the 2012 election most likely will not be a simple replay of the Democratic landslide year of 2008, and Obama could potentially lose quite a few states that would close the gap.
As Dave Weigel writes: “This is about as bad as it could get for Democrats, and as good as it could get for Republicans. The next GOP presidential candidate gets six free electoral votes from South Carolina, Texas, Utah.”
Depending on how you count things, you could also add the one-seat gains each in Georgia and Arizona to that safe GOP column, while also factoring in the one-seat loss in safe GOP Louisiana, for up to a freebie of seven electoral votes.
As I said above, this would all be meaningless if 2012 is a landslide year either way. But the numbers could very well matter if things get close.