http://www.thedailybeast.com/articl...y-on-the-possible-coming-obama-landslide.html Michael Tomasky on the (Possible) Coming Obama Landslide by Michael Tomasky Aug 4, 2012 4:45 AM EDT Liberals donât want to jinx it. It terrifies the right. And the press would prefer a nail-biter. But the fact is that finding Romneyâs path to victory is getting harder every day. Thereâs a secret lurking behind everything youâre reading about the upcoming election, a secret that all political insiders knowâor shouldâbut few are talking about, most likely because it takes the drama out of the whole business. The secret is the electoral college, and the fact is that the more you look at it, the more you come to conclude that Mitt Romney has to draw an inside straight like youâve never ever seen in a movie to win this thing. This is especially true now that it seems as if Pennsylvania isnât really up for grabs. Romneyâs paths to 270 are few. First, letâs discuss Pennsylvania. There has been good reason for Democrats to sweat this state. True, Obama won it handily in 2008, by 10 points. But itâs a state that is older and whiter and more working-class than most of America. Obama benefited from all the unique circumstances of 2008 that helped him across the country, but if ever there were a state where the âwell, we gave the black guy a chance and he blew itâ meme might catch on, itâs the Keystone State. But the jobless rate there is 7.5 percent, well below the national average. Democratic voter registration has held its own. The Philly suburbs have grown. And this odious voter ID law is facing meaningful challenges. A hearing on the lawâs validity has just been concluded. A state judge says heâll rule on the lawâs constitutionality the week of Aug. 13. It sounds as if the lawâs opponents made a stronger case at the hearing than its supporters. In any case, the losing side will appeal to the state Supreme Court. But whatever happens with that law, Pennsylvania has been trending back toward Obama lately. He now holds a lead there of nearly seven points, and heâs close to 50. And as I wrote the other day, Nate Silver now gives Barack Obama a slightly better chance of winning Montana than he does Romney of winning Pennsylvania. That tells you something. The Democratsâ Pennsylvania sweat also had to do with its sizeâ20 electoral votes, tied with Illinois for fifth biggest in the country. Democrats have been able to count on those votes for 20 years. Losing them would be a dagger right in the heart, a maybe irreparable sundering of the partyâs electoral coalition. Imagine Republicans losing usually reliable Missouri (10 EVâs) and Arizona (11). Big ouch. So if Pennsylvania is off the boards, letâs look around. Imagine itâs election night, say 10:45 east coast time. Four eastern states havenât been called yet: Ohio (18), Virginia (13), North Carolina (15), and Florida (29). Also, in some Western states, the polls havenât closed, or the races are too tight to project just yetâColorado and Nevada, say. Arizona has just been called for Romney. At this point, Romney actually leads, 188 to 182. In this scenario Iâm assuming Obama has won Iowa (6), which is admittedly close but where his lead has been stable at three or four points, and New Hampshire (4), where Obama has a similar fairly small but stable lead, and Michigan (16), where the gap appears to be opening up a little. So itâs a six-vote Romney edge. Theyâre feeling great up in Boston. Especially with the big Eastern four still up in the air. Right? Not really. Letâs look at these West Coast states. Even though theyâre still voting in California, obviously Obama is going to win it (55). And equally obviously, heâs going to win Washington (12) and Oregon (7), where neither side even bothered to spend a dime. Throw in Hawaii (4). Those 78 votes haul Obama up to 260. Thatâs something to keep in mind for election night: Whatever Obamaâs number is at 10 pm Eastern, add those 78 EVâsâtheyâre a mortal lock, and a hefty insurance policy. If he wins Nevada (6) and Colorado (9), itâs over. In other words, Obama can lose the big Eastern fourâOhio, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida: all of âem!âand still be reelected. And barring some huge cataclysm, heâs not losing all four of those states. If he wins even oneâsay Virginia, the smallest of the fourâthen Romney has to win Colorado, Iowa, and New Hampshire; all possible, certainly, but all states where he has been behind, narrowly but consistently, for weeks or months. The list of states where Obama holds that narrow but consistent lead is long: Ohio, Virginia, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada, and New Hampshire. Michigan and Wisconsin are no longer really narrow. Florida is more or less a dead heat. The bottom line is that of the dozen or so key swing states, Romney leads only in one: North Carolina. And that lead developed only over the summer. Weâll see whether the Democratsâ decision to convene in Charlotte has any impact on Romneyâs three-point margin. Itâs beginning to look like Obama can lose the big Eastern fourâOhio, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida: all of âem!âand still be reelected. All this explains the interesting little chart toward the lower right-hand corner of Nate Silverâs home page, headed âElectoral Vote Distribution.â It rates the probability that Obama receives a certain number of electoral votes. Most outcomes, in a range running from 150 EVâs up to 400, rate around a 2 percent chance of Obama receiving that number. The highest spike on the chart? Itâs at around 330 EVâs, which Silver reckons Obama has a 14 percent chance of hitting. Now, most political journalists would chuckle derisively at the idea that Obama is going to carry home 330 EVâs. Deride away. And while you do, bear in mind that Silver called 50 out of 51 states last time (counting D.C.; he missed only Indiana) and every single Senate race. Sure, something big could happen to alter the dynamic completely. But weâve watched these guys go, what, six or seven rounds now (out of 15). After seven rounds, you can pretty well tell some things. All the supposedly game-changing events of the last few weeks havenât changed much of anything. This is a paradoxical situation that has little or no modern precedent, which makes it hard for people to accept. Liberals are too nervous to think it, reporters too intent on a âdown to the wireâ narrative, and conservatives too furious and disbelieving, but itâs shaping up to be true: An extremely close election that on election night itself stands a surprisingly good chance of being not that close at all.