Republicans have a major electoral map problem.
Amid all of the agita and hand-wringing about the campaign Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney ran, the reality is that the former Massachusetts governor was operating on an incredibly narrow electoral map that made his only path to victory something close to a total sweep of the most closely contested states. That problem isn’t unique to Romney and, along with the party’s demographic disadvantages, is the biggest issue facing Republicans as the party tries to regroup for 2016, 2020 and beyond.
Let’s start with an examination of the electoral math.
In the past six presidential elections, including 2012, the Democratic nominee has averaged 327 electoral votes while the Republican nominee has averaged just 210. (A candidate needs 270, a simple majority of the total of 538 electoral votes, to be elected.)
During those two-plus decades dating back to 1992, the most — repeat most — electoral votes a Republican presidential candidate has won is 286, when George W. Bush claimed a second term in 2004. In that same time frame, Democratic nominees have received more than 300 electoral votes four times: Barack Obama in 2008 (365) and 2012 (332) and Bill Clinton in 1992 (370) and 1996 (379). The lowest total for a Democratic nominee during that period was Sen. John Kerry’s 251 electoral votes in 2004; Republicans’ floor during that same period was 159 electoral votes in 1996.