Republican strategist and George W. Bush mastermind Karl Rove thinks South Carolina could be up for grabs in the 2012 presidential race.
In a Karl Rove & Co. newsletter, the former White House strategist lists the Palmetto State as a "toss-up," a classification he gave to states where polls indicate presumtive GOP nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama are only separated by 3 percent or so.
"There are six states with a combined 82 (electoral college) votes classified as 'toss-ups,'" Rove wrote in the newsletter. He includes Iowa, Florida, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia in this group.
He also lists the traditionally easy-win Republican states, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Texas, as just "leaning Romney." Arizona is also classified as leaning Romney, and that's a state the Obama campaign has said publicly it would like to flip this fall.
In 2008, Obama won 20 South Carolina counties, but he lost the state overall. Sen. John McCain bested the President by about 168,000 votes. South Carolina hasn't gone for a Democrat since 1976 when then-Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter was on the ballot.
"I think if Obama was ever going to win in South Carolina, it was going to be in 2008," said Lin Bennett, chairwoman of the Charleston County Republican Party. "The party is so confident about South Carolina, they are asking us to help with bordering states like North Carolina that need a little extra boost. ... I think (Karl Rove) is saying this probably just to stir things up and get attention."
Democrats, however, say the poll indicates the distate for Romney, who lost the state's GOP primary to former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.
"The level of contempt for flip-flopper Mitt Romney was evident when South Carolina Republicans rejected him in the Presidential Primary in January," said Democratic strategist Tyler Jones. "Rove's polling obviously says a lot about the President, but it says even more about Mitt Romney."
"For once, I think I agree with Karl Rove," said Richard Hricik, chairman of the Charleston Democratic Party. "Given the utter weakness of their candidate and the strength of the President's record, every state should be in play."
Rove predicts a close race, but if voters went to the polls today, using Rove's math, Obama would clinch the election with about 14 electoral votes to spare.