Darren Richardson

June 22, 2012

If the U.S. presidential election were held today, President Obama could count on 221 electoral votes, while presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney could count on 170. With 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency and 538 up for grabs, 147 electoral votes currently fall into the tossup category.

This data comes from the excellent website Real Clear Politics, which keeps a running record of recent state polling by several reputable firms and how their findings translate into the projection of electoral votes.

With the president only 49 votes short of the number he needs to win re-election, it’s worth noting that in 2008, he won all but 10 of the 12 states currently classified as tossups. He lost Arizona to native son Sen. John McCain, and his loss in Missouri was by 3,903 popular votes out of nearly three million ballots cast, making the Show-Me State outcome his narrowest loss. The June 22, 2012, RCP composite polling data for Arizona and Missouri show Romney leading Obama in both states, by 4.7 points and 3 points respectively. But Obama holds leads, albeit narrow ones, in all of the remaining 10 states except North Carolina.

Depending on your point of view and political leaning, this could be good or bad news.

It’s good news for the Republicans in that it shows Obama’s vulnerability in 10 of the 28 states* he carried for 365 electoral votes in 2008. With the 2010 Census numbers now in place and congressional districts redrawn, those 10 states have a total of 126 electoral votes in play. Because polling indicates a close race in these states, Republicans can make the case that voters are having a case of collective buyers’ remorse.

But it’s good news for the Democrats in that four of these 10 states – Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina and Virginia – voted Republican in both close elections of 2000 and 2004. The fact that they are competitive, Democrats can say, indicates that the voters Obama brought to the Democratic side are still in his corner.

So if we take the numbers just as they are today and make the none-too-scientifically sound assumption that they will hold through Election Day, the final electoral vote tally will look like this: Obama 332, Romney 206. It’s a long time until Nov. 6, but for now, the incumbent is in the driver’s seat.

*Obama picked up one electoral vote by winning a congressional district in Nebraska.

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2008 U.S. Presidential Election results (map), Real Clear Politics

Additional resources linked to in text.


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