As the American election campaign draws to a close, it is rather trite to observe that the race is extremely close. It has been that way for many months, but especially so since the first debate on Oct. 3. What follows is not so much a prediction, but rather guidelines to look for if you are watching the results Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. If one focuses upon the nine swing states highlighted by the media as still in play, the most likely Obama wins are in Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and Nevada. If Obama wins Ohio and Wisconsin, he need only take one of Iowa or Nevada to hit the magic 270 number in the electoral college.
website has had Obama leading by at least two percentage points in these states for most of the campaign, including the present. Romney must take something in this group if he is to win. The next set of states are truly toss-ups. They include Hew Hampshire, Colorado and Virginia, and are virtually tied in the most recent reports. If Obama wins any of them, he will likely win the election given reasonable assumptions based upon past voting history. Romney is slightly ahead in Florida and more so in North Carolina. An Obama win in either of these, should mean it is over. In reality, Romney must win everything in the latter two groups as well as Ohio or something comparable from the first group to be elected president.
The Republicans have talked wistfully about expanding the battlefield to Pennsylvania, Michigan and Minnesota, and a few polls have been close there, but Romney hasn’t visited there recently, and he would have if they were actually in play. Where the candidates are spending the last few days is the best test of which states are really crucial.
All of the above states are close however, and barring a late surge in one direction, it will be a much later night or probably morning before things are clear. The national popular vote isn’t particularly important in itself, although if one candidate has a margin exceeding two percentage points, historically that been a significant indicator of trends.
One uncertainty about all this is the possibility of differential turnout rates from 2008, especially among the young and minority voters which were critical groups in supporting Obama last time. One of the reasons for differing results from the pollsters, is the varying criteria they use in determining who is likely to vote.
The House of Representatives isn’t likely to produce a significantly different result from last time, but the Senate is important. Should Romney win, the ability of Democrats to control that chamber could block Republican attempts to eliminate Obamacare. Of 33 seats at stake there, 23 are currently held by Democrats, and the Republicans would have to gain a net of three in a Romney win, or four in an Obama win to organize the chamber.
To summarize, Ohio is still the most probable pivot, but if the state is really close, the ultimate decision could linger for days. The final count of absentee and contested ballots there isn’t until Nov. 16.
Electoral College Votes from Non-Swing States
Obama Leaning States
New Hampshire- 4
Romney Leaning States
Nor. Car- 15