If you watch CNN or Fox News or read The New York Times or any other national publication, you might hear about the Western Strategy for Barack Obama to win re-election to the presidency. So let's take a look at it. Nate Silver at the wonderful "Fivethirtyeight" blog for The New York Times provides most of the information for this post.
In this strategy, President Obama would not focus on Ohio or Virginia and instead focus on winning Arizona while holding onto New Mexico, Colorado, and the Pacific coast states.
I'll note a couple of things in this strategy. Nate Silver has Barack Obama winning the electoral college in a close race of 279-259, with 270 being the magic number to win the presidential election.
1. The map probably does not represent how things are right now but how Silver might project how the electoral results will happen come November if President Obama focuses on his Western Strategy. The reason I say that is Silver mentioned that currently President Obama is leading Mitt Romney in polls by about 5%.
2. Silver's definition of a swing state is a state that would swing the election, meaning that whoever wins that state would be able to win the election as a result. He orders Obama's results in 2008 by biggest margin of victory to the smallest and found that in 2008 Colorado was the state that put him over the 270 electoral vote ledge.
3. Silver states that the "swingiest" states right now are the states that are polling close to the 4% that Obama leads Romney nationally.
4. Arizona currently has a tie in the state according to the polls but longer term averages have Romney ahead in Arizona by about 3%. To put it more simply, Obama is doing worse in Arizona than he is nationally.
5. In 1996, Bill Clinton won Arizona when he won the national election by about 8%. Similarily, President Obama could win the state if he won by the same percentage nationally. If he did that, it's possible that he would not need the votes in Arizona to win the presidential election.
6. The Western Strategy might give Barack Obama some slack over the rest of the country to win re-election but it seems unlikely that Arizona will be a swing state in the 2012 presidential election. The Western Strategy, while it may be talked about consistently, is probably superfluous to the re-election of Barack Obama. If President Obama maintains his hold on the Western states and adds Arizona he would be able to win the election without having Ohio, Virginia, Iowa, among others.