One state changes categories today, and it is a move toward Romney:
Romney had a lead in the five poll average in New Hampshire early in the year… back in January and February… but since then Obama has maintained a consistent lead in New Hampshire, sometimes close, sometimes considerable. Until now. After Obama peaked at a 9.9% lead at the end of September, Romney now takes a 0.9% lead in New Hampshire. And yes, for those asking, that does include one out of five polls with an end date after the second presidential debate.
So, new summary:
|Romney Best Case||315||223|
|Obama Best Case||191||347|
While still not as well off as his peak on October 12th, Romney has been moving some states in his direction the last couple of days. While Obama is still ahead, the race remains extremely close. Today let’s once again look at the state of the five poll average in all of the close states. In order by the strength of Romney’s position:
- Virginia (13 ev): 2.4% Romney Lead – 2/5 polls after 2nd debate
- North Carolina (15 ev): 2.0% Romney Lead – 2/5 polls after 2nd debate
- New Hampshire (4 ev): 0.9% Romney Lead – 1/5 polls after 2nd debate
- Florida (29 ev): 0.4% Romney Lead – 5/5 polls after 2nd debate
- Ohio (18 ev): 1.6% Obama Lead – 4/5 polls after 2nd debate
- Colorado (9 ev): 2.6% Obama Lead – 2/5 polls after 2nd debate
- Iowa (6 ev): 2.8% Obama Lead – 2/5 polls after 2nd debate
- Pennsylvania (20 ev): 2.8% Obama Lead – 0/5 polls after 2nd debate
- Wisconsin (10 ev): 3.1% Obama Lead – 3/5 polls after 2nd debate
With just the states Romney is ahead in by more than 5%, he gets to 191 electoral votes.
Add the four states he is ahead in by margins less than 5%, and he gets up to 252 electoral votes. Those four states are all close. They could slip away. But if Romney holds them, that leaves him 17 electoral votes short of a tie, and 18 electoral votes away from an outright win.
What is the easiest way to get there? Yup… Ohio. Obama is still ahead in Ohio, but by a razor thin margin. And that margin has actually decreased from 2.8% before the 2nd debate to 1.6% now. If Romney pulls ahead in Ohio, that gets him to 270 electoral votes… the bare minimum needed to win outright without throwing it to the House.
I classify all nine of these states as states that could easily go either way. 5% is a margin that can disappear in a day or two with one candidate or another having a bad news cycle. Despite Obama’s razor thin lead at the moment, this really is anybody’s game right now. Obama is one bad day away from actually being behind for the first time.
Obama’s performance in the second debate may have stopped his slide and prevented Romney from taking a definitive lead, but so far at least, we don’t have evidence of Obama pulling ahead in a way that would return him to anything close to his late-September numbers. Instead, we have Obama with a small but real lead, and Romney within striking distance.
Just over 48 hours until the third debate, and then we’re in the final stretch…
Note: Chart and map from the Abulsme.com 2012 Electoral College Prediction page. Both assume Obama vs Romney with no strong third party candidate and 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.