Essentially, it all comes down to three big goals:
1. Do as well with the non-white vote as Obama did in 2008, with the expectation that it continues to increase as a share of the total electorate.
2. Hold steady with upscale white voters, who tend to be more focused on quality of life issues like environmentalism.
3. Mitigate losses among the white working class, but expect to lose this group once again.
So this would be a path to 270 electoral votes that might include Colorado, Nevada, and Virginia (which historically have been Republican) but not Ohio (a quadrennial swing state) or even Pennsylvania (which historically has been Democratic).
Is this a feasible approach?
At this point, it's not likely. I could go on at lengthabout all of its problems, but let's just look at the three biggest dilemmas I see.
1. Obama still needs the "white working class." Josh Kraushaar made a good point earlier this month when he discussed the Obama administration's decision on the Keystone XL Pipeline:
The administration's decision to cater to environmentalists by postponing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline is a clear sign of the dilemma. The president decided to punt on a job stimulus measure in order to placate parts of the coalition that elected him in 2008. Environmental sensitivities took precedence over job creation.
The problem with this approach is that the white working class is more essential to the Obama coalition than one might think. To appreciate this, consider the following chart, which identifies the percent of Obama's voting coalition that was white working class (defined here as whites without a college degree) in the Midwestern swing states.