The other problem for Romney when it comes to comparing Bush's 2004 map with his own blueprint for 2012 is that while there are plenty of states that Bush won where Romney will or could lose, there are very few states that Bush lost where Romney looks to come out on top.
Wisconsin is Romney's best chance to turn a blue state in 2004 into a red state in 2012. Obama's trip to Milwaukee on Saturday - his first since February - suggests that his campaign may be worried about the numbers but, again, the latest independent polling in the Badger State pegs Obama to a mid-single-digit lead. New Hampshire is another state Romney, who spent four years as governor of neighboring Massachusetts, could turn blue to red in 2012.
Aside from those two states, there is little evidence that Romney can or will expand the Bush 2004 map. That failure to expand begins (and could well end) in Pennsylvania and Michigan, two massive electoral-vote treasure troves that Republicans thought might move in their direction this year due to the economic difficulties that have affected the entire Rust Belt region. Romney's close personal ties to Michigan also gave Republicans some hope that this year would be different for them.
Put Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes) or Michigan (16 electoral votes) into Romney's column and all of the sudden a loss in Ohio is nullified; if Romney won Ohio and Michigan, it would all but cancel out defeats in Iowa, New Mexico and Nevada.
But victory for Romney in either Pennsylvania or Michigan seems remote at the moment, a reality that when coupled with the gains Obama has made from the 2004 Bush victory map makes one thing abundantly clear: If Romney is to win in November, he must run an increasingly narrow electoral college gauntlet to do so.
While threading that needle is, obviously, not out of the question, Romney's current electoral vote ceiling is - at best - in the mid 280s, a no-room-for-error map that no candidate wants to face six weeks before an election.