The Washington Times - October 18, 2012, 10:28AM

Mitt Romney’s recent surge in the polls has put Wisconsin within the Republican challenger’s reach, political forecasters at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics said in their latest breakdown of the presidential race, making it, by their count, one of the four remaining toss-up states in “this utterly wild” race.

President Obama, meanwhile, holds an overall 267 to 235 lead over the Republican presidential nominee in the chase for the 270 electoral voters needed to capture the White House.


Wisconsin, the home state of Mr. Romney’s running mate Rep. Paul Ryan, and the other remaining toss-up states — Colorado, Virginia and New Hampshire — account for 36 electoral votes.

Larry J. Sabato, Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley write that it is too early to tell how the second debate between Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney could change the political map.

“Will it just stanch Obama’s bleeding, will it do more and prompt an Obama uptick, or will it have no effect at all?” they write. “Given the race’s ups and downs, we wonder whether we’re still in the third stage of the campaign — the Romney surge — or whether we’re back in the first phase of the campaign: a narrow Obama edge. Or could we be in a fourth, 2000-like stage — meaning a freakishly close election?”

The group says that Ohio, which has picked the winner in 27 of the past 29 elections, could still go either way. Mr. Obama, though, has consistently held a bigger lead in Ohio than he has nationally and, they say, that still appears to be the case for a variety of reasons, including the president’s support for the auto bailout, backing from labor unions and a jobless rate in the state below the national average.