Is the election coming down to four states?

There’s been a lot of theorizing on the comments threads about the Electoral College prospects of President Obama and Mitt Romney. At National Journal, Major Garrett writes something that I find rather reasonable: The election increasingly is coming down to four states:

What also became clear after the dust began to settle from the rumble on Long Island was the electoral map has narrowed and Obama’s team, while conceding nothing publicly, is circling the wagons around Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. Plouffe said that Obama remains strong in all four states, but he would not discuss the specifics of internal polling or voter-contact analytics, saying only that Obama has “significant leads” in all four places.

It is uncharacteristic of Team Obama to concede any terrain, but Plouffe offered no such assurances about Obama’s position in North Carolina, Virginia, or Florida. Romney advisers have seen big gains in all three states and now consider wins likely, although not guaranteed, in all three. They are similarly upbeat about prospects in Colorado but not confident enough to predict victory. That Plouffe left Colorado off his list of states where Obama’s leading and can withstand a Romney surge might be telling.

If those are the four states still being contested, where does each campaign stand with the others, and which states does each candidate have to win? Here’s Garrett again:

According to RealClearPolitics, Obama currently has 201 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win. But that doesn’t give Obama electoral votes from Pennsylvania (20), Michigan (16), or Wisconsin (10). Of these three, Romney advisers believe that only one, Wisconsin, is even theoretically winnable. Obama advisers believe they will win all three. That would put Obama at 247 electoral votes. If Obama wins Ohio (18), Iowa (6), Nevada (6), and New Hampshire (4) he would claim 281 electoral votes. That means he could afford to lose New Hampshire and Nevada and still eke out a razor-thin victory of 271 electoral votes.

Romney, according to RCP, has 191 electoral votes. If you add Florida (29), North Carolina (15), and Virginia (13), that brings his total to 248 electoral votes. Add Colorado (9) — which neither campaign is prepared to claim or concede — and Romney’s total rises to 257 electoral votes. If Romney wins Ohio (18) in addition to these states, he would have 275 electoral votes. If Romney loses Ohio, he would need to win Iowa, Nevada, and New Hampshire to reach 273 electoral votes. There is a scenario where Romney could lose Ohio and New Hampshire but win Iowa and Nevada and one electoral vote from the 2nd Congressional District in Maine (the state allocates electoral votes by district vote) and capture the bare minimum of 270 electoral votes.

In other words, under this emerging scenario Ohio on its own could swing the election to Romney, but not to Obama, who would also need to win Iowa or Nevada. At the same time, this scenario means Romney doesn’t have to win Ohio — but Obama does; he can’t get to 270 with his current leaning/likely/solid states plus Iowa, Nevada and New Hampshire.

Two points:

1. Given Ohio’s traditional importance to GOP candidates — no Republican has won the White House without it — it’s surprising that Romney has a path to victory without the Buckeye State, but Obama can’t win without it. Of course, if even one of the other four gravitates toward Obama, Ohio would once again become paramount for Romney. Thus, all the recent campaigning in Ohio by both men.

2. The other three states are among the four traditional “first in the nation” primaries and caucuses, where Romney has been campaigning for well over a year at this point. On one hand, he’s been in these states for months and months — yet he hasn’t closed the deal in them. On the other, Obama won each of them by double-digits in 2008 (if you round the results to the nearest whole number) and is in danger of losing them this time.

Here’s how each state stands today according to the RCP averages (and where the momentum lies):

IOWA: Obama leads by 2.3 points (about half the lead he held just three weeks ago).

OHIO: Obama leads by 2.2 points (down from 5.2 points three weeks ago but rising over the past week).

NEVADA: Obama leads by 3 points (roughly where his lead has been for the past two months, but up over the past week).

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Obama leads by just 0.8 points (the closest that state has been since Obama took a head-to-head lead in early February).

– By Kyle Wingfield

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216 comments Add your comment

I demand to see Cheesy Grits Birth Certificate- Long Form Please

October 17th, 2012
5:48 pm

Its easy to see.

Obama could lose the popular vote and still win.

But the electoral college is a real uphill battle for Cheesy Grits.

Not gonna happen.

Especially if Romney loses Ohio ( which is likely )

Then he really is up against it and needs all the toss ups to win.

I demand to see Cheesy Grits Birth Certificate- Long Form Please

October 17th, 2012
5:50 pm

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/10/17/14514354-man-arrested-in-alleged-plot-to-attack-federal-reserve-in-nyc?lite

Since you get full blame for any Terrorist acts that are successful you must get full credit as well for those that are not.

Anything else would be hypocrisy.

Thank you for keeping me safe President Obama.

JDW

October 17th, 2012
6:17 pm

@kyle…sounds like a familiar line of thought…as I said earlier today status quo is a winner

Hillbilly D

October 17th, 2012
6:17 pm

Is the election coming down to four states?

Probably so but that’s not really so unusual, especially in the last few decades, with a notable exception or two.

Dum-Bass

October 17th, 2012
6:19 pm

BO has apparently had a premonition. Many didn’t catch it last night but about two thirds of the way through he said something very revealing. The question was from Carol Goldberg and pertained to the outsourcing of American jobs overseas. Obama said, “WE ARE ON PACE TO DOUBLE OUR EFFORTS, ONE OF THE COMMITMENTS I MADE WHEN I WAS PRESIDENT”. Had to dig through the transcript but finally confirmed I was not hearing things last night. An omen? Perhaps!

That Black Guy

October 17th, 2012
6:31 pm

Independent American

October 17th, 2012
6:03 pm

How SAD does your life have to be that once banned on a blog, you have to run around and find a new IP address just to fling poo.

It’s a beautiful day in a great city with many activities to offer.

Sad indeed.

Sam

October 17th, 2012
6:34 pm

Ohio, Iowa, and Nevada is certainly the easiest way to an Obama victory but currently Colorado and Virginia are effectively tied and Florida is within 1 point. There was also a recent poll showing Obama ahead in Arizona when non English polling was included. Romney cannot win without Ohio unless you give him nearly every single other competitive state. Obama can win without Ohio.

blahblahblah

October 17th, 2012
6:36 pm

The electoral college disenfranchises more voters than everything else combined.

Candunce Crowley

October 17th, 2012
6:43 pm

For whatever it is worth… Erick Erickson sited a fact this evening the democrats on this blog aren’t going to like very much: In the history of the Gallop Poll since the fifties and sixties at this point in the race whatever candidate polls at least 50% has gone on to win the election

Um, Gallop has Romney ahead at 51% among likely voters.

iggy

October 17th, 2012
6:54 pm

Obama is saying to Michelle. “DAMNIT WOMAN…get to packing!! Its back to Sweet Home Chicago.”

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

October 17th, 2012
6:54 pm

It all depends on how many morons live in them.

boohoo for the majority rule

October 17th, 2012
6:54 pm

The only thing that disenfranchises voters more than the electoral college is the popular vote.

iggy

October 17th, 2012
6:57 pm

“The electoral college disenfranchises more voters than everything else combined.”

Let the Pre Obama Loss Disenfrachised Boo Birds come to the for front.

Here it comes…The electoral college sucks, the electors are bigots and WAAHHH!!!

ByteMe - Got ilk?

October 17th, 2012
7:02 pm

When you “circle the wagons” you are defending territory. Doesn’t mean you can’t go on the offensive in other places, though. It’s not mutually exclusive when you have a couple hundred million in GOTV and ad money available.

Oduma and Dumber Company

October 17th, 2012
7:04 pm

These Al Gore liberal knuckleheads believe they have the right to vote in electing the President. Hilarious!

You are voting to elect DELEGATES to represent you, only your DELEGATE votes elect the President.

iggy

October 17th, 2012
7:06 pm

I bet those electoral college people didnt even go to college.

cc

October 17th, 2012
7:35 pm

BREAKING NEWS:

Obama, up 11 points in Wisconsin just prior to the first debate, has now fallen to a dead tie with Governor Romney.

cc

October 17th, 2012
7:43 pm

Iggy:

I’m going to enjoy election night watching as the “experts” attempt to explain just how Governor Romney was able to win the election. I’m sure there will be film coverage of a defeated Hussein and his enraged wife who will no longer be able to say that she is proud of her country.

The crews of Air Force One will breathe a sigh of relief.

There will be many reports of blogger suicides . . .

JamVet

October 17th, 2012
7:47 pm

The crews of Air Force One will breathe a sigh of relief.

Never-served Webelos drop outs commenting on the professionalism of real men in uniform.

Hysterical…

jconservative

October 17th, 2012
7:53 pm

I agree. It is that tight.

cc

October 17th, 2012
8:05 pm

What’s your point, JamVet, if you have one?

iggy

October 17th, 2012
8:15 pm

Agreed cc. Im gonna tune into PMSNBC. Rev Sharpton will be ranting about bigots and racists and rope a dope and disenfranchisement and marches and fraud and cheating and diebold machine tampering and vote rigging and fraud and, well he may just have a coronary right there on screen.

Rachel Maddow may renounce lesbianism…we then again probably not.

Chris Mathew may break out his AK-47 and begin shooting up the place.

It promises to be a real ball buster.

BW

October 17th, 2012
8:23 pm

This is hilarious….Kyle just clearly said this is tossup with the fundamentals favoring Obama slightly in the only count that matters, the Electoral College, and look at the people claiming Romney will run away with it. It truly is a farce to believe there are actually undecided voters in this race. Everyone is at least leaning one way or the other. At this point unless someone consistently polls outside the margin of error in these polls conversation about a win is moot. See you back here November 7 for more discussion.

td

October 17th, 2012
8:23 pm

iggy

October 17th, 2012
8:15 pm

“Chris Mathew may break out his AK-47 and begin shooting up the place”

That is too close to being a reality. A little scary.

Ed Shultz may have a massive stroke on camera.

cc

October 17th, 2012
8:27 pm

What time does the circus start?

Rafe Hollister, suffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

October 17th, 2012
8:29 pm

Jaime Dupree had some interesting observations today. He had researched Nevada results and what the polls showed prior to the election. Remember Angle was up on Hairy two years ago, and Hairy won by a decent margin. Jaime had researched it back to 2004 and Dem votes were always more than anticipated by the polls. Why? Union mischief is often blamed but never proven. So, Nevada goes to Barry.

Romney wins Ohio and NH because good GOP candidates usually carry those states and due to the enthusiasm gap for Romney, I see him winning there. Coal is going to help Romney in Ohio as well offsetting any gain Obama gets for the government bailout of GM.

Dusty

October 17th, 2012
8:31 pm

All very interesting. But….”I won’t count my chiickens until they hatch.”

Rafe Hollister, suffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

October 17th, 2012
8:39 pm

Dusty

I think I see some cracks in the shell and maybe the tip of a beak.

cc

October 17th, 2012
8:44 pm

Rafe:

Mine has hatched, grown up and is now THE barnyard rooster-in-charge!

@@

October 17th, 2012
9:00 pm

Kyle Wingfield Is the election coming down to four states?

Well…one thing’s for certain. The Obama campaign is coming down to planet earth the hard way.

SPLAT!!!!!

A “heeling” moment, that’s fo ’sho.

schnirt

Del

October 17th, 2012
9:17 pm

The Gallup poll was surprising and I’m sure a shocker for the Obama campaign at this late date. There’s typically a 5 to 7 day lag before the national polls begin to be reflected in the battleground states. With Romney ahead by many polls in Florida, Virginia, New Hampshire and only one point behind, well within the margin of error in Ohio it’s entirely possible Romney could win by taking those swing states. Factor in potential upsets now in PA., Mich., Colorado, Wisconsin and Nevada, Romney could very well have a big night. I don’t think the lib over confidence of an Obama win we’ve seen on both Kyle’s and Bookman’s blogs is anywhere near realistic.

Georgia

October 17th, 2012
9:33 pm

Does Diebold still make the voting machines? What about Florida? Did they trash those stupid machines that make pregnant chads or hanging chads?

Are we to witness another bogus election?

bu2

October 17th, 2012
9:55 pm

I find it hard to believe Obama is leading in Ohio as bad as the economy is there. The same is true for Florida which leans strongly Republican at the state level. I also found it hard to believe North Carolina would go Democratic again.

I’ve long thought it was Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Virginia and New Hampshire that would decide it as Ohio and Florida would go for Romney by a narrow margin.

td

October 17th, 2012
9:59 pm

I think you can put FL and NC in the bank for Romney because Obama has basically quit campaigning or buying new ad buys in those states.

MI and PA are always pipe dreams for the Republicans and unless this election turns hard towards Romney in the last three weeks then they will go to Obama.

In the polls Romney is currently ahead in CO and Obama in NV so let us say they go according to the polls.

VA and NH are trending Romney.

That leaves Wis, IA, OH. Romney can win by taking OH or Wis. Obama must win OH and Wis to win.

Bruno

October 17th, 2012
10:02 pm

MI and PA are always pipe dreams for the Republicans and unless this election turns hard towards Romney in the last three weeks then they will go to Obama.

td–I’m not ruling anything out at this point. Who can seriously vote for Obama in good faith given his dismal record across the board?? In particular, black Americans, who voted for Obama in record numbers, have been hardest hit by the recession. Why keep backing a proven loser??

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROFwJNRxCAE&feature=related

Just Saying..

October 17th, 2012
10:04 pm

Fascinating, thanks for this.

md

October 17th, 2012
10:13 pm

From what i can tell reading the blogs today, it seems neither side is offering specifics…..just “hope”.

If that is the case, the last 4 years of hope have been awful stale……one might want to try the other brand.

td

October 17th, 2012
10:20 pm

Bruno

October 17th, 2012
10:02 pm

I was attempting to be realistic based on what the LSM is saying the mood of the country at the present time, past polling results and current trending polls. I am not ruling out what you said and my gut is telling me that you are right.

RW-(the original)

October 17th, 2012
10:20 pm

If the current thinking is that Romney wins if he gets Ohio and Obama can’t win without Ohio, or Oiho as he spells it, then I would say it;s down to one state.

td

October 17th, 2012
10:26 pm

Playing with the numbers a little and this could be a possibility.

Romney takes: FL, NC, VA and Ohio
Obama take: Wis, NV, CO and NH

Then the one that take IA wins the election.

td

October 17th, 2012
10:28 pm

Both of them are spending a great deal of time in IA.

md

October 17th, 2012
10:44 pm

Well, based on the unofficial yahoo thumbs up, thumbs down poll conducted within each article, Romney wins in a landslide……….

I guess one poll is as good as another until one day in Nov….

HRS for Men

October 17th, 2012
10:48 pm

You can’t stop me. I can out fox you every time. Work smarter, not harder. See you at the polls, chump.

td

October 17th, 2012
11:04 pm

You can’t stop the Train

October 17th, 2012
10:57 pm

I do not care how many Latinos come out or how many people that will not vote for a Mormon will stay home. It is the middle class suburban married white women with children that will decide this election.

yuzeyurbrane

October 17th, 2012
11:18 pm

It is notoriously difficult to predict tight elections but I am willing to risk embarrassment by saying that the election will really be decided in one state, Ohio, because it has so many electoral college votes at stake. Either candidate could lose most of the other states mentioned but still pull out a victory if he wins Ohio.

Norman

October 18th, 2012
1:17 am

I am a Coloradan. I ran the polling place in Denver’s heaviest demo Yuppie area. In 2008 there were MANY yard signs for O. Now only TWO and same for Romney. I don’t know about Ohio, but that is an earthquake result here. Count Colorado for Romney. We have only nine eletoral votes, but they may count for a lot more!

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

October 18th, 2012
6:34 am

cc: What time does the circus start?
——————-

Around noon on January 20, 2009.

Vote American to make sure the disaster ends this coming January 20, and take your country back from the America-hating Democrat liberal fascists.

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

October 18th, 2012
7:39 am

The debate’s Benghazi argument should make for some devastating Romney campaign ads–Obozo for two weeks blaming the video for a spontaneous demonstration that escalated into an attack on the embassy, compared with the facts.

Obozo: Liar.

southpaw

October 18th, 2012
7:53 am

How about this scenario:
In addition to his current 191 electoral votes, suppose Romney wins Florida (29), North Carolina (15), Virginia (13), Iowa (6), Colorado (9), and Nevada (6). Obama wins Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. Both of them get 269 votes. How much pressure will individual electors get to change their votes? If they all vote as expected, the House of Representatives will decide the election. THAT would be fun to watch.

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right

October 18th, 2012
7:57 am

This all comes down to ground game. Democrats traditionally have a better one, but Romney has displayed a good one during the primaries, and the GOP in Wisconsin showed the way during the Scott Walker recall win (erroneously predicted by many failed prognostcators on this blog).

Democrats would be more foolish than they usually are to think they have a better one this year.