Just 15 days remain until Election Day, and the race to gain 270 electoral votes has shifted since our last analysis. Back 12 days ago, the key states to watch were Florida, Virginia, and Ohio. If Romney were to win all three he would be just 4 votes short of winning the Presidency. If Obama were to pick off two out of the three, he would clinch a second term.
The newest movement indicates that the state of Florida has begun to fade out of Obama’s reach. With that big prize presumably red, the biggest and most predictive state left up for grabs is Ohio. An Obama win in Ohio leaves Romney with very few options with which to secure 270. A Romney win there means he comes within two states of winning. The state of Virginia is the next most critical. The same rule applies here that applied to Ohio. These are ‘do or die’ states for both campaigns.
If a split were to occur within those two states, the race may end up being decided out west. The two swing states out there are Nevada and Colorado. Both Obama states in 2008, polls here are within the margin of error.
Another interesting turn of events is the obscure rule in the state of Maine. People may recall that in 2008, Obama won a single electoral vote from Nebraska because the city of Omaha proportioned their vote by congressional district. The same rule applies to Maine and Romney is leading in one of those districts. Romney has a chance to pick one vote off of a secure Obama state like Maine.
What’s amazing to think about is a projection where Romney wins Ohio, Obama wins Virginia, and the two western states go Romney. Give Romney that single vote from Maine and the score is 269-269. It would be the first Electoral College tie in almost 200 years. In such a scenario, it would be the House of Representatives that would decide the election. They would caucus by state and the candidate that received 26 or more state votes would be elected. Under such a scenario, most analyses have showed Romney would win in the GOP controlled House. The Senate would decide the Vice President. Which could actually vote for Joe Biden if the Democrats still control the chamber. It is conceivable that Biden could remain VP while Romney wins the Presidency.
But that is still a long shot. What’s vastly more likely is one candidate winning outright. But for that to happen, the states of Ohio and Virginia will take center stage.