With two disastrous debate performances behind it, the Obama-Biden ticket is in trouble. President Obama's supporters assumed the win was in the bag. Though Mitt Romney is taking the lead in national polls, Democratic strategists confidently argued Mr. Romney lacked a path to electoral victory because he would have to "run the table" of the swing states in order to win. Mr. Romney is turning out to be more of a pool shark than they expected.
The latest battleground polls show a Romney surge in the critical swing states. The nine most noted swing states are Florida (29 electoral votes), Ohio (18), North Carolina (15), Virginia (13), Wisconsin (10), Colorado (9), Iowa (6), Nevada (6), and New Hampshire (4). Mr. Romney has a base of 191 electoral votes and needs another 79 to win. The four largest states on the list have a combined 75 electoral votes, so if he wins them he would only need to add the smallest of the states, New Hampshire. Securing five of nine will win it.
Suffolk University announced Wednesday that it would no longer spend resources conducting polls in Florida because the Sunshine State has gone Mr. Romney's way. That leaves Ohio as a must-win state, so both sides are spending millions in ad dollars, primarily along the I-71 corridor between the Buckeye State's three largest cities. At least mathematically, Mr. Romney could win without Ohio. He could, for example, pick up Colorado and the unexpectedly competitive Wisconsin. Likewise with Virginia, which could be replaced with wins in Colorado and New Hampshire.
North Carolina was supposed to have been the Obama campaign's secret weapon. The state went for the Democrats in 2008 by a thin margin, and Mr. Romney would be hard pressed to make up the Tar Heel State's 15 electoral votes if it reappeared in the Obama column. This is why Democrats selected the state to host their national convention. A series of Democratic scandals in the state and a general drift toward the GOP soured that strategy. North Carolina is generally considered Romney country now.
Pennsylvania is in play, with Mr. Obama's lead in the polls shrinking to 2 points. Mr. Romney can win the White House without Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes, but Mr. Obama cannot. If the Keystone State goes red it will be an early night for concession speeches.
As the race tightens, smaller states take on more importance. New Hampshire's four electoral votes have become one of the hottest prizes in the campaign, with both parties tripling their spending there over the last two weeks. The wild card could be the few electoral votes in Maine and Nebraska that are parceled out by congressional district rather than the more common winner-take-all method.
This inside baseball may not matter. The University of Colorado model, which has correctly predicted the winner of every presidential election since 1980, has Mr. Romney taking all nine swing states plus New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Maine. If this plays out, Republicans will more than run the table. It's starting to look like Mr. Obama is behind the eight ball.
The Washington Times
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.