12 Days To Go
By Steve Deace
As Mitt Romney takes the lead in several national tracking polls, the Electoral College — where the presidential campaign will really be decided — grows closer.
It takes 270 Electoral College votes to win. After consulting data from several respected pollsters and pundits on both sides of the aisle, as well as what I’m hearing from my own little birdies across the country, here’s where I believe things stand with 12 days to go.
As it stands today I believe President Obama has 267 Electoral College votes either safe or leaning his way. If you remove the leans (I consider Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, and Pennsylvania as leaning towards Obama at the moment) the president would be at just 217 Electoral College votes, so that shows just how important those states are to Obama. He could afford to lose Iowa or Nevada and still win the presidency, but a loss in either Michigan, Ohio, or Pennsylvania would be lethal.
As it stands today I believe Romney has 244 Electoral College votes safe or leaning his way. If you remove the leans (I consider Colorado, Florida, and North Carolina as leaning towards Romney at the moment), the Republican challenger would have just 191 Electoral College votes. That means Romney cannot really afford to lose any of those states in the final days if he has a chance at winning the presidency.
True Battleground States
According to my analysis, that leaves three states that are too close to call either way, and in this scenario would determine the next President of the United States: New Hampshire, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
The composite polling in New Hampshire and Virginia is a statistical tie. However, Republicans have made statewide gains in each location the past couple of election cycles, signalling they have a stronger ground game in each compared to four years ago.
In Wisconsin, the president is polling ahead by a couple of points. However, the Republicans have won 3 statewide elections in the Badger State since 2010: Scott Walker’s run for governor, the recall of the legislature in 2011, and Walker’s recall in 2012. Throw in the fact Wisconsin has a native son on the GOP ticket, and it’s quite possible that state could go Republican for the first time since 1984.
Road to Victory
Under this scenario, all Obama has to do is win one of those three true battleground states and he is re-elected. Romney has to win all three, which would give him 271 Electoral College votes. That’s only one more than it takes to win, but a win is a win. Of course, an “upset” in any of the tightly-contested leaning states alters this entire scenario. And I still think it’s quite possible Romney could flip leaning Obama states like Iowa and Ohio in the final 12 days. But since those states have seemed at least somewhat immune to Romney’s recent national surge, I still consider them as leaning Democrat at this time.
No Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio. Iowa has only gone Republican once since 1984, and that was by fewer than 10,000 votes in 2004.
Can there be a 269-269 tie?
A 269-269 tie could occur if you just took the 2004 presidential election map and flip Nevada to the Republicans and Ohio to the Democrats. In other words, it’s more possible than it’s ever been. According to the 12th Amendment, that would result in the House of Representatives determining the president and the Senate determining the vice president. That means we could end up with Romney-Biden. More likely should that occur, we’d get months if not a year’s worth of litigation and all you-know-what breaking loose before finding out who the winner is. Think the 2000 Florida Recall fiasco on steroids.
What about Congress?
The most certain outcome nationally in 2012 is the Republicans retaining control of the House of Representatives. The Senate is far more uncertain.
It’s hard to imagine Scott Brown retaining his seat in Massachusetts with Obama at the top of the ticket winning the state by 15-20 points on Election Day. So if you remove that race, then the Republicans need to win 8 of the 9 remaining seats rated as toss ups by Real Clear Politics to flip control of the U.S. Senate.
According to my analysis, here’s how I would rank the 9 remaining toss-up Senate seats from easiest to most difficult:
1. North Dakota…An open seat and a state Romney will win convincingly.
2. Indiana…Richard Mourdock’s recent pro-life comments aside, this is one of the most Republican states in the union.
3. Arizona…An open seat in a state Romney will have some coat-tails.
4. Montana…Very tight race and the Democrats have a good candidate, but another state where Romney will have coat-tails.
5. Missouri…If polls showing Romney will win the Show-Me-State by double-digits are accurate, he could ironically propel the embattled Todd Akin to victory as well.
6. Wisconsin…This race looked lost two weeks ago, but former Republican governor Tommy Thompson has rebounded to make it a winnable race.
7. Nevada…Republicans there are optimistic, but it’s hard to go against Harry Reid’s political machine.
8. Virginia…Even if Romney wins the state it will be too close for coat-tails, and the Democrats are running a popular former governor. The Republicans are running a candidate that doesn’t excite their base.
9. Connecticut…Linda McMahon has run a good campaign, but her Democrat opponent will get a lift from Obama’s coat-tails.
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