Darren Richardson

May 26, 2012

As Americans celebrate Memorial Day this weekend, President Obama leads presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney in the all-important electoral college vote count, 247 to 206, according to a widely reported Associated Press report released Saturday. To win the presidency, a candidate must receive at least 270 electoral votes.

 If these springtime state-by-state polling numbers hold up through Election Day on Nov. 6, the 2012 presidential election would be decided in seven swing states with a total of 85 electoral votes:  Florida (29), Ohio (18), Virginia (13), Colorado (9), Iowa (6), Nevada (6) and New Hampshire (4). Obama carried all the aforementioned states in 2008, but an AP assessment of current polls show them all too close to predict at this point.

Although the AP article made mention of Obama worries in Wisconsin, it is not clear if Wisconsin is being counted as an Obama state or a Romney state in the AP’s 247-206 tally. The Real Clear Politics (RCP) average for polls conducting between May 9 and May 22 shows Obama with a 47.8 to 45 percent advantage over Romney in Wisconsin, with the most recent poll showing Obama with a 6-point lead. The AP article indicates that if embattled GOP Gov. Scott Walker survives the recall vote in June, Romney may have a better chance to win there in November. Recent polls show voters leaning toward keeping Walker in office.

RCP sees the race differently than AP when it comes to assigning states to Obama or Romney – the site’s current count shows Obama with 227 electoral votes likely or leaning his way, while Romney has 161 likely or leaning his way. RCP places Nevada in the “likely Obama” category, but adds these states to the tossup category: Michigan (16), North Carolina (15), Arizona (11), Missouri (10) and Wisconsin (10).

Of the seven states the AP listed as 2012 tossups, Obama “flipped” all but one of them, New Hampshire. While N.H. opted for Democrat John Kerry in 2004, the other six backed then-incumbent President George w. Bush. Of the seven states, only Iowa voted for Gore over Bush in 2000.

In breaking down the state-by-state prospects of the swing states, Obama would seem to be the most vulnerable in Florida, judging from recent polls. A widely cited Quinnipiac poll released last week showed Romney with a six-point edge, 47-41, although an NBC News-Marist poll released around the same time showed Obama up, 48-44. When all the recent Florida polls are averaged by RCP, Romney leads by a half point, 45.3 to 44.8.

Obama holds a 4.9 percent advantage over Romney in the RCP average numbers for Ohio, 47.2 to 42.3. In Virginia, Obama  holds a 2.5 percent advantage,  47.2 to 44.7 percent. Colorado also falls into Obama’s column at this point, as do Iowa, Nevada and New Hampshire.

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Obama would have edge over Romney in electoral college if election were today: report, N.Y. Daily News, May 26, 2012

Warning signs for Obama on path to electoral votes, Associated Press, May 26, 2012

Real Clear Politics Electoral College map

Additional sources linked to in text.