There's no question that President Obama faces one of the most challenging political environments in modern memory as he prepares to try to win a second term next November.If the GOP nominates Sen. Marco Rubio for VP, you can put Florida solidly in the GOP camp. I think they'll win Florida anyway, along with Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia. Although Ohio may reject Gov. Kasich's union reform measures in the election today, the state went hard for the GOP in 2010 and I think Obama probably loses there too.
But with one year to go before the 2012 election, a state-by-state examination of the battleground map suggests that the president still retains several plausible pathways to the 270 electoral votes he needs. . . .
Obama won three states -- Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia -- that no Democrat had carried at the presidential level in at least two decades, and he scored victories in six other states (Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico and Ohio) that George W. Bush had won in 2004. Those nine states will account for 112 electoral votes in 2012 and stand at the center of the fight for the presidency.
If Obama loses every one of them but holds on to the others he won, he will drop to 247 electoral votes and Republicans will win the White House. (The decennial reapportionment of congressional districts after the 2010 Census subtracts six electoral votes from states Obama won in 2008.)
But with the exception of Indiana and its 11 electoral votes, Obama is very much in the game in those states. In several, even Republicans acknowledge that he is favored.
And let's not rule out the possibility that Obama could have a rough go in Wisconsin and Michigan. Both those states now have Republican governors they didn't have in 2008. And should Mitt Romney be the nominee, he'll certainly have a lot of support in Michigan.
Can Obama win any of the states McCain won in 2008? Not likely. His path to office will have to go through the states he won in 2008 and he can't afford to lose the states with the big electoral college numbers like Florida and Ohio.