At this point in the election, there appear to be 130 electoral votes ‘up for grabs.’ These are the swing states.
Of these 130, 60 votes are in states leaning Obama by a slight margin. Nevada (6), Iowa (6), Wisconsin (10), Pennsylvania (20) and Ohio (18).
26 are in states that are a tossup (Colorado (9), Virginia (13), and New Hampshire (4).
44 are in NC (15) and Florida (29), which are leaning slightly towards Romney.
Absent these swing states, Obama stands with 217 Electoral Votes strongly in his column. Romney stands with 191 Electoral Votes strongly in his column.
Simple math tells us that to win the presidency, Romney has 16 days to convert 79 votes. Obama has 16 days to convert 53 votes.
Let’s also cede that it feels more likely he will win both Virginia and Colorado. That is an additional 22, bringing Romney to 257.
For Obama’s part, it seems quite likely that he will win Pennsylvania, Nevada and Wisconsin, all three of which lean more his direction than the states that we just awarded to Romney. This is an additional 36 votes for Obama, bringing his total to 253.
The only states that we have not yet assigned are Iowa, New Hampshire and Ohio. Let’s give both the tossup state New Hampshire, and the slightly Obama leaning Iowa to Romney. That brings Romney to 269.
Please note that we have been fairly generous to Romney in this hypothetical. We have given only 3 swing states, totaling 36 votes, to Obama. Obama leads by an average of 4% in these states according to aggregate polling (5% in Penn., 4% in Nevada, and 3% in Wisconsin).
Of all the 6 states, totaling 78 electoral votes, that we are awarding to Romney, he does not enjoy more than a 1% lead in any. In fact in most he is tied or behind by the polls.
We only have one state left. That state, at least by this narrative, will select our next president. Why is Ohio still left? Well, there are three big prizes for grabs in the swing states. Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. All have more votes at stake than any 2 or three of the other states at play.
Based on careful consideration, Ohio seems to be the game-changer state most likely to remain in play until the last possible moment. Florida seems likely to go to Romney, even though it polls a tie. Pennsylvania has leaned Obama for at least 6 months. That leaves Ohio.
Hence, in our estimation, the road to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. runs right through Buckeye country. So let’s take a look at Ohio polling at key moments over the last few months. Our polling data comes from an aggregation of dozens of polling models. The columns in our graphs represent the polls taken just after the event listed… so the ‘Debate 1’ column represents aggregate polling info in the days after the 1st debate, but before the VP debate.
If Romney is to ascend to the Oval Office, here is his battleground. These 20 electoral votes are the hinge on which swings the political future of America. Please Note, real time numbers are still coming in even as this is written… the impact at the moment looks to be a ~1.3% bump for Obama, and a ~1% bump for Romney. This means that the lead Obama maintains in polls remains within the margin of error.
The only poll that matters of course happens on November 6, and every eye in the nation will be on the swing states, and in particular Ohio. Don’t be surprised if both Romney’s and Obama’s campaign buses are in Ohio that day, both hoping to drive through Ohio to Pennsylvania Ave.
This is not great news for the Romney Team. Of the 9 swing states before Ohio, we gave 6 to Romney, 3 to Obama. Romney’s team either has to figure out how to pry either Nevada, Pennsylvania, or Wisconsin away from Obama, or figure out how to pull from behind in Ohio, to win the presidency. It seems just as likely, or more likely, that Obama will woo one of the Romney states above; say Iowa, to his side, than that Romney can get Pennsylvania or Nevada, let alone Wisconsin.
So here we are again, all eyes on the Buckeyes.