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How the 2012 Swing Counties Swung

By Albert R. Hunt
December 02, 2012 11:27 AM EST

In the eight states where President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney competed fully, there were 94 so-called swing counties that voted for George W. Bush in 2004 and for Obama in 2008; in November,  Obama won 48 of those and Romney won 46.

There are two reasons that result was insufficient for the Republicans.

One, Obama won a convincing victory four years ago and to win this time, Romney had to win most of these counties.

Second, many of the counties that the Republican nominee carried were smaller, often rural, areas in Wisconsin and Iowa. In fact, 80 percent of the swing counties that Romney won this year were in those two states, a result that made only a small dent in Obama's clear winning margin in both states.

The Democrat, on the other hand, carried more populous swing counties in Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Colorado. He swept all the swing counties in Colorado and won the vast majority in Virginia, Florida and Ohio.

Hometown ties didn't help the Republican ticket. Although these weren't swing venues. Rock County, Wisconsin, where vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan resides, went for Obama 61 percent to 38 percent. Romney lost both Oakland County, Michigan, where he grew up, and Middlesex County, Massachusetts, where he has spent most of his adult life.

Obama carried his home turf, Chicago's Cook County, 74 percent to 24 percent.

(Albert R. Hunt is Washington editor at Bloomberg News and a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter.

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