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Posted by Chris Cillizza on November 1, 2012 at 1:41 pm on the WASHINGTON POST
The only question anyone asks us these days is “who’s going to win?” (Second most asked question: “Why are you so dumb?”)
Honest answer: We don’t know (on either one!). President Obama retains an electoral college edge in swing states but his leads in many of those states are narrow enough that they could shrink or disappear entirely by election day. (One other observation: It is true is that Obama’s electoral college ceiling is significantly higher than Romney’s. There are plenty of scenarios where Obama wins north of 310 electoral votes while it is very tough to get Romney beyond 300 even on a very good day nationally.)
What we do know is what the most likely path to 270 electoral votes Obama and Romney will take if they are to be elected president in five days time looks like. Below we lay out Obama’s most likely path — complete with a map courtesy of 270towin.com. Later today, we will break down Romney’s most likely path. Stay tuned!
If President Obama wins Ohio — as well as all of the other states leaning or solidly for him — he has a relatively simple path to 270. (Though we moved Ohio to “tossup” today, we believe — and wrote — that Obama has a narrow edge in the state.)
Putting Ohio in Obama’s column, he can weather losses in swing states with strong historic Republican tilts (Virginia, North Carolina) and swing states where Romney appears to have a slight edge (Colorado, Florida) and still be re-elected with electoral votes to spare. (If he happens to win, say, Virginia or Florida, he starts to approach 300+ electoral votes.) All of that assumes, of course, that he holds on to swing-ish Democratic states (Pennsylvania, Michigan) and wins three swing states where he enjoyed major margins in 2008 (Iowa, Nevada, and Wisconsin.)
In our map below, Obama wins 277 electoral votes to 261 for Romney.