Forget about the national presidential popular vote polls. What matters is the Electoral College vote.
The candidate who wins 270 or more electoral votes is elected President of the United States. This past week, in my projections, Barack Obama moved significantly closer towards his reelection. Specifically, I shifted Wisconsin, with its ten electoral votes from toss-up status to the Obama column.
I had projected these ten electoral votes for Obama earlier in the campaign, prior to Mitt Romney’s selection of Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) as his running mate. Immediately after the Ryan selection, the polls in Wisconsin showed that state’s presidential contest narrowing to a dead heat. Polls since the convention, however, show that Obama has regained the lead he held in the Badger State prior to the Ryan selection. The “home state Ryan bounce” is long gone, and the ten electoral votes of Wisconsin are safely in the Obama column.
The states I project for Obama and Romney, respectively, are “solid” for each candidate, meaning that neither will be able to win a state I have projected for the other candidate. On that basis, I currently project Barack Obama as the likely winner of the District of Columbia and the following nineteen states, for a total of 247 electoral votes, only 23 short of the 270 electoral votes needed for his reelection:
California (55), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), District of Columbia (3), Hawaii (4) , Illinois (20), Maine(4), Maryland (10) , Massachusetts (11), Michigan (16), Minnesota (10), New York (29), New Jersey (14), New Mexico (5), Oregon (7), Pennsylvania (20), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), Washington (12), Wisconsin (10).
I currently project Mitt Romney as the likely winner of the following twenty-three states, for a total of 191 electoral votes:
Alabama (9), Alaska (3), Arkansas (6), Arizona (11), Georgia (16), Idaho (4), Indiana (11), Kansas (6), Kentucky (8), Louisiana (8), Mississippi (6), Missouri (10), Montana (3), Nebraska (5), North Dakota (3), Oklahoma (7), South Carolina (9), South Dakota (3), Tennessee (11), Texas (38), Utah (6), West Virginia (5), Wyoming (3).
The election of 2012 will be determined by the results in the following eight toss-up states, holding a total of 100 electoral votes:
Colorado (9), Florida (29), Iowa (6), Nevada (6), New Hampshire (4), North Carolina (15), Ohio (18), Virginia (13).
In these toss-up states, there is more bad news for the Romney-Ryan ticket. The polls show that there are very strong trends in Ohio and Virginia in favor of the Obama-Biden ticket. These two states contain a total of 31 electoral votes. If Obama wins these two states, in addition to the 247 electoral votes I have projected for him above, he will have a total of 278, eight more than he needs for reelection. He will be reelected without needing to carry a single other toss-up state, including Florida, which has been a major focus of both candidates.
To reverse the trends in Ohio and Virginia, Romney and Ryan must score knockout victories in their respective forthcoming debates. Otherwise, I think the ballgame is over, and Obama will be reelected.
Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush. Region 2 EPA consists of the states of New York and New Jersey, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and eight federally recognized Indian nations. Under former New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman, he served as Executive Director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission. He currently serves on the political science faculty of Monmouth University.