The Battleground States That Will Decide the Election

Now that the debates are over, the most significant information Americans will get regarding how the candidates are doing will be from the polls. If those polls are any indication, it is Republican challenger Mitt Romney who has been the beneficiary of a bump that most likely came from his obvious win in the first debate, followed by two debates in which no clear cut winner emerged. This week Romney moved above 50 percent in his favorability rating with the voters for the first time. Yet it is no secret that this election will be decided by 11 battleground states. Those states are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. The current polling numbers, according to the Real Clear Politics website (RCP), which averages the polling data from a number of independent sources, reveal an incredibly close and intense race between the president and Mitt Romney. Of particular note is that President Obama has seen his once-huge margins of victory against 2008 challenger John McCain virtually vanish. Yet it is far from certain that this will translate into a victory for 2012 GOP nominee.

In Colorado (9 Electoral College votes at stake), where Obama beat John McCain by 9 points in 2008, the race is a virtual tie, with only two-tenths of a percentage point separating the candidates. If there’s any momentum evident at all here, it is due to the first debate, which was held in Denver. Prior to the debate Obama had a three-point lead. Colorado has been a historically Republican state, but a growing Latino population in one of the fastest growing states in the nation has moved it towards the Democratic column. Like most states, the economy is the number one issue, but environmental concerns are also important.

In Florida (29), RCP gives Romney a 1.8-point lead in a state Obama won by 2.8 points in 2008. The issues in this state revolve around the economy, as unemployment remains higher than the national average. Two voting blocs, Jewish Americans and the elderly, will likely have enormous influence on the outcome. Their concerns include, among other things, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Israel. Another factor is the reality that Florida was one of the hardest hit states in the nation with respect to the housing crisis. That crisis has abated somewhat, but substantial numbers of Floridians remain  underwater on their mortgages.

That Iowa (6) remains a tight race is relatively surprising, since Obama won the state by a 9.5-point margin in 2008. Currently the president maintains a lead of two percentage points there. Despite a large population of evangelical Christian voters, Democrats have carried five of the last six presidential elections. The issues that concern Iowans are healthcare, due to the nation’s fifth largest number of residents over 65, federal subsidies of certain crops, and renewable energy sources, of which Iowa is a net exporter.

Michigan (16) currently leans Obama by five points, despite a landslide 16.4-point victory in 2008. A Romney win here would be a big upset, given that Michigan has voted Democrat in the last five presidential elections, and remains a state where union workers, especially those in the auto industry, remain tried and true Democrats. The only thing likely to change that dynamic between now and the election would be unequivocal evidence that the economy is stalling–or that GM is irrefutably headed for bankruptcy again. Neither scenario seems likely to occur before November 6th.

Nevada (6) is a state where the race has tightened in recent weeks, with Obama holding a 2.8-point lead in a state he won by 12.5 points four years ago. Nevada has both the highest unemployment rate and the highest home foreclosure rate in the nation, thus jobs and real estate values are the most presiding  issues. Immigration reform is also important in a state where more than a quarter of the residents are of Hispanic origin.

New Hampshire (4) is another state where the race has tightened considerably in the last two weeks, despite a 9.6-point Obama victory in 2008. On October 6th, the president was up 50-44. As of yesterday that lead had been narrowed to 1.4 point margin. Key issues in New Hampshire are the residents’ dislike of taxes, debt and big government, favoring Romney, and their liberal attitude towards social issues, including abortion rights, and a 2010 law legalizing same sex marriages, that favor for Obama.

In North Carolina (15), where Obama eked out a razor thin 0.3 percent victory in 2008, the move has been solidly in Romney’s direction, from a dead heat three weeks ago to a 5-point lead. On Monday, Democrat campaign strategist Paul Begala admitted to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that the Obama camp had given up on the state where Democrats held their national convention. Considering that North Carolinians have voted Democrat only twice in 40 years (Carter was the other winner) and economic issues dominate, it is a move fueled by campaign spending allocation issues.

Ohio (18) is a state where the president’s lead has fluctuated from a high of 5.5 points to 1.9 points currently. Obama beat McCain by almost five points in 2008, and like Florida, Ohio is one of the key states that could tilt the election one way or the other. No Republican has won the presidency without winning Ohio. The key to taking the state is winning the working class vote, which can only happen for Romney, who has trouble connecting with such voters, can convince them Obama’s economy is worse than the one he would create. Ohio’s current unemployment rate is 7.5 percent, down from 9 percent last year. Obama wants to convince Ohioans that he’s responsible for the drop. Romney wants to convince them that Republican John Kasich should get the credit. Whoever wins that argument will likely win the state.

In Pennsylvania (20), the president’s lead has narrowed from almost nine point to 4.8 in a state he carried by a comfortable 10.3 percent margin in 2008. Pennsylvania has gone Democrat in the last five presidential elections. Labor union members and the elderly comprise the nation’s fourth highest percentage of both groups, yet the vote here likely comes down to major urban centers where Obama reigns supreme, versus the suburbs and rural areas where small business owners are feeling the economic pinch, and the administration’s environmentally driven “war on coal” works in Romney’s favor.

Virginia (13), is another state where the race has tightened, from a five-point Obama lead in September, to a 48-48 dead heat. Virginia is traditionally a red state whose only Democratic presidential vote in the last 40 years went to Obama by 6.3 percent in 2008. The key to winning this state likely comes down to whether or not Obama can maintain the coalition of minority and college-educated people he won in 2008 — and get them to turn out in the same numbers — or Romney can siphon off enough disaffected voters. Three third party candidates could also affect the outcome.

In Wisconsin (10), a state Obama won convincingly by almost 14 points in 2008, a 6-point lead as of two weeks ago has dwindled to 2.7 points. Wisconsin’s travails over the past two years have been well documented, and no other battleground state has seen more erosion for the president than this one. Yet Wisconsin hasn’t gone Republican in a presidential election since the 1980s. Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan’s selection as the VP candidate may change that dynamic, but the state was polarized by the fight between Gov. Scott Walker and government employees. Unions are itching for revenge, yet it remains a reality that given a choice, Wisconsin voters opted to keep Republican Scott Walker in office. Which faction turns out the most voters on November 6th will likely be the key.

The overall key is momentum. Romney generated a considerable amount of it after the first debate, but reality suggests he must keep the pedal to the metal if he hopes to prevail on November 6th. While the overall voter preference leans his way, the the battle for 270 electoral college votes is another story altogether. RCP’s average — minus the toss-up states which include all of the above except North Carolina which “leans Romney” — the Republican challenger holds a 206-201 edge in Electoral College votes. Yet if all the toss-up states stay exactly as they are now, Obama prevails with a 281-257 margin, and is re-elected. It’s going to be a long two weeks.

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  • Chezwick

    I have Romney winning Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia.

    I have Obama winning Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

    That leaves Nevada and Ohio to decide the election.

    • 11bravo

      Arnold is way too worried. Dick Morris has it right-Mitt in a landslide!!! The polls are sh*t. Wait until 5 days before the election, they will stop scewing the polls so they can show how accurate their polling is. Watch the media coverage too-it is sooo obviously slanted to try and save the ONE wev'e all been waiting for.

      • Chezwick

        Hope to God you're right.

      • Banastre Tarleon

        Morris was predicting a Mccain victory right till the end …so much for that

    • Banastre Tarleton

      Romney will be lucky to win Florida or Colorado and has virtually no chance in Nevada , which is like a suburb of LA …….Obama is the ''community organizer '' and has organized Ohio in a very precise and methodical manner …victory in politics , as in war , goes to those best prepared
      Team Romney is amateurish , half assed and is following in Obama's wake and short of a miracle will lose Ohio and the election

  • oldtimer

    Did you hear about the letters sent to Florida republicans stating they were ineligible to vote? I wonder how that happened? Who did it?

    • kafir4life

      Barack and Debbie had them sent out. Turns out that DWS, has been doing regular Lewisnski's on our 44th "president", or Stinky (BO) as he's become known.

      • davarino

        Ew!!!!

        • Lan Astaslem

          more likely hussein is getting (and giving) lewinskis from/to another man – word on the street is mooochelle is a beard – and an ugly one at that, and little barry is as gay as Liberace.

          • Guest

            Not going to get any disagreement except from the GLSEN people. They’d argue it’s the other way around, and that ObamaCare was a necessity so Barry could get a free-sex change since he’d like to really wear the pants.
            It’s all in his college records. Why else do you think he keeps them hidden?

  • pierce

    Kafir you are something else. but you misspelled Monica's last name.

  • tagalog

    I find it unsettling that the election race is so close. What is it about Barack Obama that half of the nation finds attractive enough to vote for him a second time? I can't see it. I must be missing something.

    I mean, Mitt Romney is not my first choice for an alternative to Obama, but Obama is a disaster and has to go. Don't most people see that? The doctrinaire lefties and the last-gasp Democrat loyalists will of course vote for Obama, since he's most likely to fulfill their collectivist fantasies, but what about the rest of us who are still moored in reality?

    Tolstoy wrote about history's currents impelling people to do things that have historic and disastrous consequences for them that they can see coming at the time they make their decisions to run into the maelstrom, but do it anyway; maybe this is one of those moments. Every great society eventually shoots itself in the heart. Maybe this is our time for that.

    • pagegl

      "What is it about Barack Obama that half of the nation finds attractive enough to vote for him a second time?"

      Robert Heinlein had a succinct answer for that:

      "Never underestimate the power of human stupidity."

      • tagalog

        Heinlein was paraphrasing H.L. Mencken, who famously said, "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the bad taste of the American people."

      • amused

        Indeed ! Romney’s counting on it

        • tagalog

          Well, if that's true, at least we have ONE candidate who's grounded in reality.

    • Guest

      He has TWO major voting blocs which seem to be almost unbreakable- the Black vote, who now is almost totally locked in because Obama dictates the Welfare programs which so many of them are on, and also the illegal vote which he worked so hard to keep, giving them an Executive Order free ride, in short, amnesty. Which, hopefully, will be legislated into oblivion. Either that or a change in the WH can do a "reverse" EO.

      • Galveston

        He won't get the same % of the black vote as he did in 08 for one big reason – the very high black unemployment rate

  • Western Spirit

    The last time we had an incompetent president, Jimmy Carter, the electorate had no problem seeing through him and kicking him out. I can't see why anybody would vote for this incompetent president. Whatever happened to "it's the economy, stupid"?

    • pagegl

      Well, one possible contributing factor could be that the educational system in this country hasn't been improving for the past 30 years.

      • tagalog

        Despite continually increasing money infusions and increasing federal involvement in education.

  • pierce

    I might be wrong, but I don't think so. I think this has already been decided. He is acting like a loser, and his name is Obama. If it's true, and I really feel it is, you can bet the bank on it. This is Oct. 24th and we have 13 days to go, and the momentum has shifted.

  • jose

    If we give obama ""just 4 more years"" he will make it all better. Come here and suck on my lollypop.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Interisting question asking what is the divide between the votes for and against Obama. In short
    if you want a caretaker government and abandon self responsibility, Obama gives it but it is
    in a slavery modus that sells you out and ultimtely is a big fail. On the other hand if the markets
    are left to generate jobs, work becomes available and with competition each individual becomes
    as valuable as their willingness to make use of their talent and training. Work pays, sluggery
    does not it just costs and depletes with no upside and no future. Foolishness brought Obama
    into the Presidency and it is foolishness that could keep him there, hopefully the pain of the
    last four years will have been enough to wake the citizens up and provided the painful
    stimulus to end Obama's imposterization of being anything but and empty suit with a big mouth.
    William

  • jojo

    he also has the homosexual vote and the pro lifers which in recent years has increase,
    so there is a moral decay break down in America, eeirthe DNC took God out of their agenda and realized their mistake and put him back in only because they were pressed to do so, they denied him 3 times
    but in the end he was put back in.

  • amused

    Half the country voting for Obama ? That's a good sign , it goes to show that atleast THAT half knows it aint raining when republicans are peeing on their heads

    • objectivefactsmatter

      You must giggle staring at yourself in the mirror.

    • tagalog

      Okay, but then there's the half that's going to vote for Obama, to KEEP ON peeing on their heads just like they have been for the past four years.

    • kafir4life

      The head comes up from the union lap, it gargles, swallows, says something stupid, and back down in the lap.