Romney’s Election Strategy Hinges on Florida, Ohio

The Republican presidential candidate cannot afford to lose either battleground state.

Mitt Romney will be hard pressed to defeat incumbent president Barack Obama in November. The Republican’s own “3-2-1” election strategy hinges on winning both traditional battleground states Florida and Ohio.

Republicans assume that they will win the states that John McCain did in the 2008 election. A safe assumption because these states, in the south and heartland of America, are conservative and nearly always voted for the Republican candidate in presidential polls.

The challenge for Romney is to win back states that propelled George W. Bush to victory in 2000 and 2004. Besides Ohio and Florida, which wield 47 out of the 270 electoral votes needed to win between them, that includes Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia. Barack Obama won by he narrowest of margins in the first two states but Virginia, with thirteen electoral votes, will be an uphill battle for Romney.

According to Gallup, 42 percent of Virginians lean Republican and 41 percent lean Democrat. 55 percent of voters there describe themselves as either liberal or moderate. Obama swept the moderate vote in 2008 and beat John McCain by more than 200,000 votes.

If Romney wins Virginia, it will be because he managed to sway the working-class vote. That same constituency he needs to reach in industrial states like Indiana, Iowa and Ohio.

A Pew Research Center poll conducted last year found that 43 percent of white blue-collar voters don’t believe that they will be better off ten years from now. It was the most negative view of any of the groups polled and helps explain why, in the 2010 congressional election, working-class voters gave Republicans 63 percent of their vote, thirty more points than for Democrats.

This is the group that has suffered the worst from the recession but it also regards warily the former businessman Romney, a millionaire many times over whom the Democrats will to try to portray as “out-of-touch” with the working man. Indeed, they already are.

If Romney wins Ohio, which is far from certain, and wins Florida, which seems more likely, he will have to pick up at least one more state to reach the 270 electoral votes that are needed to win. He could do well in New Hampshire, a northeastern swing state, and out west in Colorado, where Romney and the president are tied.

More likely, he will focus on Iowa and Wisconsin which wield six and ten electoral votes respectively — states that voted for Obama in 2008 but otherwise lean Republican.