What the Swing States Say About 2016

Stuart Rothenberg, the political analyst who was the first to call the massive Republican ‘wave’ in the November midterms, is out with a unique twist on what we might expect to see in the horse race for 2016.

In last few presidential cycle, ten states have shaped up to be the most critical in determining who ultimately occupies the White House. These ten so-called ‘battleground’ states are more critical to the presidential hopefuls than the other 40: WI, NV, FL, NC, NH, IA, PA, CO, VA, and OH.

The other 40 states have historically been considered safe for one party or the other and have not, with few exceptions, presented themselves as competitive. So the key for both parties’ nominees is to focus on how to win what Rothenberg calls the ‘Big Ten.’

Among those ten, three were very close in the 2012 presidential election in which Barack Obama edged out Mitt Romney to retain the White House. Those states are North Carolina, Florida and Ohio.

For Republicans to have a shot at winning, details Rothenberg, the party will have to nominate a candidate that appeals to voters in those states broadly. Specifically that means that he or she must be a mainline conservative but one who can avoid being labeled an angry ‘extremist’ by Democrats.

Rothenberg identifies a group of candidates in those states who have won statewide who might serve as templates for how a GOP nominee might win, presumably, against Hillary Clinton.