Photo from CNN.com
With just six weeks left until the 2012 Presidential election, the attention of many will draw to the many polls. The national polls do tell us some things about the race in general, but really the state-by-state polls tell us more about the actual outcome of the election.
Most analyses point to about 10 “swing states” that are the closest and will determine the winner. These 10 states are: New Hampshire (4), Virginia (13), North Carolina (15), Florida (29), Ohio (18), Michigan (16), Wisconsin (10), Iowa (6), Colorado (9), and Nevada (6). With those states outstanding, the vote count is Obama-221, Romney-191. A candidate needs 270 electoral votes in order to be elected.
Right now the residual polling bump for Obama or lag for Romney has Obama up in most of these swing state polls. Certain tactics are aimed at certain states however. The Romney VP pick of Paul Ryan was aimed, in part, to swing some votes in Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin. Obama is making a lot of hay out of Ryan’s Medicare reforms in Florida, the home of many seniors. Romney is making a big push for exploring more energy resources in coal and natural gas in an attempt to sway voters in big coal country in Ohio or even Pennsylvania. Obama touts his bailout of the auto industry to gain votes in Michigan.
Overall though, the election will bend on three big states. Along with the wealth of electoral votes, these states have populations that are predictive of a broader trend nationwide. But just on pure math, if one candidate wins these three states they will win the Presidency. The states are Ohio, Florida, and Virginia. No Republican has won the Presidency without winning Ohio. Along with that fact, Ohio has a diverse population of socio-economic conditions, etc. that make it particularly prophetic. Florida was the state that decided the Presidency 12 years ago, and remains the biggest prize electorally. It’s population of older voters and diverse racial populations make it an interesting model to watch. Finally, Virginia is the purplest of purple states. A red state for a generation, Virginia went to Obama in 2008. The state is now trended to conservative down south, more liberal in NoVA. This simmering split is key to determining whether Obama or Romney will prevail here.
The general consensus seems to be around the fact that the election will be close. No huge movements in the polls have happened in either direction. After the economy tanked in September 2008, Barack Obama gained huge ground over John McCain and never gave that lead up. Such an event hasn’t occurred yet in Election 2012. Perhaps the debates will provide a push one way or another.
For more information on the Electoral College and the map, you can use the great site www.270towin.com.