Mitt Romney and President Obama have the same personality weaknesses -- cool, uninterested in making new friends, impatient with small talk -- that can limit their effectiveness with lawmakers. But they also have the same electoral weaknesses: blue-collar workers and college-educated whites.
According to Politico's Alexander Burns, both candidates have struggled to win the votes of lower-income white people, Obama in the 2008 election and Romney in the Republican primary this year. And both did better among college-educated whites, who polls show are split evenly between the two men. Burns calls these two groups the "persuadables" -- the people the campaigns think they can actually win over with the right message. One thing that's striking about this analysis, however: downscale whites plus upscale whites -- doesn't that just add up to all whites?
Strategists privy to internal polling on both sides of the 2012 race say that higher-end suburbanites — particularly white women — are perhaps the most closely divided persuadables. One Republican operative involved in 2012 strategy put it this way: “We are going after moderate, upscale people, who maybe for the first time voted for a Democrat for president [in 2008] and are rethinking that.” ...
A source familiar with the Obama campaign’s thinking described the population of persuadable voters in similar terms, pointing to middle-class, suburban women as the most winnable prize.
Assuming that Obama wins all the states that have been won by every Democrat for the last 20 years, including both Gore and Kerry (242 electoral votes) and Romney wins all the states that McCain won in 2008 (180 electoral votes), that leaves 10 states: CO, FL, IA, IN, NC, NH, NM, NV, OH, VA (116 electoral votes). With those ten states, there are 1,024 possible combinations (2^10 = 1,024). Out of these 1,024 scenarios, Obama wins 939 of them (91.7%) and Romney wins 85 of them (8.3%). All 85 scenarios require Mitt Romney to win Florida, a state in which Obama leads according to all the latest polls, including +7 points in the latest Quinnipiac poll and +3 points in the latest Rasmussen poll.