The Republicans’ Narrow Path

As the presidential campaign begins to show signs of life since we are now within a year of the first nomination votes being cast, it is worth looking at the general election map to see what states will be in play.

On a positive note for Republicans, they have already narrowed the gap through reapportionment. With the shifting of seven congressional seats to high growth states, the electoral vote count has changed. Republicans gain a net six votes – three from GOP growth states in Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Texas (2), while losing one each in Ohio and West Virginia, while Democrats lose a net three from California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania, offset by gains in Colorado and Oregon – thus the GOP needs to change a cumulative 35 electoral votes in 2024 instead of 38.

For the Republicans to win the general election, they must first find a way to retake Arizona and Georgia. There is virtually no way for a GOP nominee to secure victory in 2024 without winning Arizona and Georgia.

Of their key foundation states, securing Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas is again the GOP’s top priority, just as it was in the previous election. As was stated in 2020, the Democrats’ cracking any one of these five states would almost surely lead to defeating then-President Donald Trump. Taking both Arizona and Georgia proved to be the lynchpin of President Joe Biden’s victory. 

Winning both Arizona and Georgia would not be enough, however. The next GOP nominee will need more. Virtually the only GOP victory path lies with then winning either Wisconsin, or taking both Nevada and New Hampshire. Two additional states will attract a great deal of media attention, but President Biden again winning close races in Michigan and Pennsylvania appears to be the most likely outcome regardless of how the national campaign takes shape.

Taking Michigan and Pennsylvania off the table is obviously a top priority for the Biden campaign, and the 2022 election results suggest they will be successful in doing so.

A tie scenario could occur with the Republican nominee keeping all 25 states that former President Trump won in 2020, including the 2nd District of Maine, converting Arizona and Georgia, and then winning Nevada and the 2nd District of Nebraska.

Remember, Nebraska and Maine split their electoral votes and each of their congressional districts carry a vote. The aforementioned path would give each candidate 269 electoral votes, and send the final decision to the House of Representatives.

The Democrats have a further advantage in that new potential swing states are more likely to favor them than the GOP.

Alaska, with their new Ranked Choice Voting system, is a state where President Biden could potentially score a key upset victory. Look only to the special congressional election that elected at-large Rep. Mary Peltola (D). Though Republican candidates took 60% of the initial special primary vote, Ms. Peltola still won the seat through RCV.

A similar situation could happen in the 2024 presidential race if the GOP nominee were to fall below the 50% threshold. Considering former President Trump scored 52.8 and 51.3% of the vote there in 2020 and 2016, respectively, securing a Republican majority on the first ballot in 2024 is no longer a certainty.

North Carolina is certainly no slam dunk for Republicans. While they have been winning most of the statewide elections there of late, many of their victories have been with only a plurality. The Biden campaign converting North Carolina would also clinch re-election for the President.

The Democrats will again talk about Texas as a potential target, but in the end, the state will remain in the Republican column. With Republicans improving their standing among Texas Hispanics, the state will be virtually out of reach for the Democratic nominee.

Furthermore, President Biden then holding the 2nd District of Nebraska and possibly claiming the 2nd District of Maine would also damage GOP chances.

Beyond the aforementioned, it is difficult to see any other state switching party allegiance in the next presidential campaign. Of course, we have a long way to go, but as the map continues to evolve, Republican victory chances appear to grow narrower.

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