Romney’s team acknowledges that any realistic course to 270 starts with winning back three historically Republican states that Obama won in 2008 — Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia — and believes that changing demographics in Virginia present a challenge.
If, however, Romney can win the three longtime Republican states and take back Ohio and Florida, he will need just one more of the states that Obama flipped in 2008 to get to 270. Romney advisers express optimism about their chances in two other states in Obama’s column in 2008, Iowa and New Hampshire. The Granite State is attractive because of its proximity to Massachusetts, where Romney served as governor. Iowa, which launched Obama in the caucuses in 2008, has become more problematic for the Democrats this year.
The Romney campaign’s thinking about the electoral map, detailed in interviews this week with top campaign officials and advisers at Boston headquarters, as well as several Republican strategists, is akin to the “3-2-1” strategy authored recently by Bush strategist Karl Rove. Under that strategy, Romney would need to win three traditionally Republican states (Indiana, North Carolina and Virgina), plus two perennial swing states (Ohio and Florida), then one more state from half a dozen tossups.
This won’t be an easy slate of states for the Romney campaign to pick up: the Democratic convention, for instance, is being held in Charlotte, N.C. (although considering how unpopular Democratic governor Bev Purdue is, along with the state Democratic party’s recent sexual harassment scandal, it’s unclear how much the convention will matter). And Obama’s showing every sign of fighting hard in Virginia.