Chart and map from the Abulsme.com 2012 Electoral College Prediction page. Both assume Obama vs Romney with no strong third party candidate. Both show polling as it currently exists. Things will change before election day. On the map red is Romney, blue is Obama, gold states are too close to call. Lines on the chart represent how many more electoral votes a candidate would have than is needed to tie under several different scenarios. Up is good for Obama, Down is good for Romney.
There are two states changing category today. In order by number of electoral votes:
Nevada moves from a “Lean Obama” swing state into “Weak Obama” territory as Obama’s lead in the five poll average goes above 5% to 5.6%. This is still close enough to 5% that a poll or two in Romney’s direction could easily move this back into swing state territory. For the moment though, this means I no longer consider this one of the states Romney could win in his “best case” scenario. So that best case scenario gets slightly worse for Romney, now with Romney winning by just 278 to 260.
Next, Montana moves from “Strong Romney” to “Weak Romney” as Romney’s lead in the five poll average drops below 10% to a 9.6% lead. Now, make no mistake, a 9.6% lead is still very substantial. Montana is a long way from being a swing state. But with a lead under 10% and a trend moving in Obama’s direction, Romney may want to deploy some resources to defend the state even if Obama’s odds of actually flipping the state are very slim (and they are). Now, Montana is only 3 electoral votes… so maybe Romney won’t bother. But with all of Romney’s paths to victory currently being very narrow ones, every electoral vote counts, so Montana will probably get some attention. Because Montana was not and is not a swing state, this does not however change anything in our summary.
|Romney Best Case||278||260|
|Obama Best Case||159||379|
With this new status Romney’s path to victory is holding all of his current Strong and Weak states, then from the swing states winning all of: Florida (29 ev), Pennsylvania (20 ev), North Carolina (15 ev), Virginia (13 ev), Arizona (11 ev), Tennessee (11 ev) and Missouri (10 ev). If he lost ANY of those states, he would lose the election overall. Of the current swing states, he can only afford to lose Iowa (6 ev) or New Hampshire (4 ev)… but not both.
If this was the polling in late October, the chances of Romney pulling off a victory would be pretty slim. (Not zero, a Romney win would still be possible, the odds would just be very strongly against it since it would require a near sweep of the swing states, including many where he is behind.)
It is of course not late October though. Romney has plenty of time to campaign and plenty of time to move critical states toward him.
Edit 2012 May 4 14:05 – Adding in my boilerplate intro paragraph, which I had forgotten.