South Carolina: a swing state?!
That's the eye-popper from a projection of the 2012 battleground by none other than Karl Rove.
In the map below, lifted from Rove's inaugural analysis of the 2012 general election, red states South Carolina and Missouri join the ranks of more traditional "Toss-Up" states like Iowa and Florida, and the Southern states that Obama (just barely) turned blue in 2008: North Carolina and Virginia.
The upshot of Rove's map is that Obama starts out with an extraordinary lead over Republican Mitt Romney. Add together the president's solid blue states (220 electoral votes) with his light blue leaners (64 votes) and you get an electoral college count of 284. Surrender every pure toss-up state, and Obama still coasts past the 270 votes needed for re-election.
But what's most remarkable are the leaners.
First the good news for the GOP: If you're Romney, you love the fact that Pennsylvania and Michigan look as gettable as more traditional bellwethers Ohio, New Hampshire, and Nevada.
But the list of Red State leaners has to chill Mitt to his golden cufflinks: It's not just Arizona that's in play. Check out Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Dakota – a list of Obama pickup targets so long it's almost unbelievable.
I'm honestly not sure what to make of this map. Either Karl has a new crack habit, or this is going to be one hell of an election.
Rove himself reached out to me on Twitter this afternoon to explain that the South Carolina polling data is several months old and likely an outlier. (Thanks for reading, Karl!)
@KarlRove: @7im Latest SC poll from 12/6 & unlikely to stay "toss-up" territory. More states will "lean-safe Romney" in wks ahead w/ more polling.