US election ‘is about eight states’

Let’s look at a map.

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This one will do (and gives you some fun button to play with). Blue states are done deals for President Obama: Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Illinois, Minnesota, California, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii.

These states will deliver Obama 196 of the required 270 Electoral College votes needed to win reelection.

Mitt Romney can count on West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, and Alaska.

That’s a lot of states but, by the size of their population, not a lot of votes. It only guarantees Romney 159 Electoral College votes.

According to wide analysis — and CNN’s map is clear — Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Mexico lean strongly to Obama. If that plays true then Obama claims 237 of the 270 votes required. Romney collecting Indiana, Missouri, and Arizona bumps his count to 191.

In what is a real life board game, it’s here that it gets very interesting. Up for grabs, according to Mitt Romney’s campaign (and we know this because he is spending money advertising in these states but has significant funds to do so if he wanted) is Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia.

This also underlines evidence that Romney’s campaign has given up on New Mexico and Wisconsin although his team denies this. That suggests Obama probably has 247 votes.

On another level, these numbers also mean the Romney/Ryan team will not win their respective home states of Wisconsin (Ryan) and Michigan (Romney) as well as Massachusetts where Romney was previously Governor. But we digress.

With that maths, Obama has to add “just” Florida (with 29 electoral votes) to win reelection or perhaps a combination of Iowa, Ohio, and Wisconsin (all achievable) or any other similar match up of swing states.

Of course, in a volatile electorate it’s absolutely possible that toss-up states could all go to one candidate and either Obama or Romney wins in a landslide. But polls aren’t showing that just yet. But what the current maps do show, and what should be of some concern to Romney, is that President Obama has more paths to reelection that Romney has to win.

The FiveThirtyEight blog was credited after the 2008 election as one of the most accurate indicators of electoral temperature (a deep drill combination of polls and real data) and points to one decisive geographical location: Ohio. And Ohio. And did anyone mention Ohio? (Clue: Democrats mentioned it many times during its convention last week).

There are many mini battles to play out before the election but slips in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, and especially Ohio, and November 6 won’t be over fast enough for the challenger. Despite the poor economy, Romney appears to be the guy who has the work to do.

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