I'm going to break the presidential race down, thusly:
● If you live in a red state, congratulations! If you live in a state that voted for McCain or almost voted for him in 2008, rest easy--no way no how will Obama take it, despite any talk you might have heard about Montana or Arizona or something else wavering. All the red states of '08 are going red again, and needless to say, not being able to win an additional state is not a good position for an incumbent, under any circumstances. Plus, Indiana and North Carolina, which just barely broke Obama's way back then, have decisively swung back in the GOP's favor--we may get a double-digit margin of victory from the ol' Hoosier State. 206 electoral votes in the bank for Romney, right there.So far, so good. Worst case scenario, we'll wind up within striking distance of the magic number 270. But we don't want to just be within striking distance, do we?
● The battleground state of Florida? Not such a battleground this time. Everyone remembers the crowing among Dems when Paul Ryan was announced as Romney's VP pick. They could beat the Mediscare drum all they wanted, so they'd be golden in senior-heavy Florida. Right? Well, not so much. Hard to say whether it's disillusionment among suburban voters, swelling support for Romney among Cuban-Americans, or if playing the Medicare/Social Security card really has backfired that much, but the Republican ticket has been consistently ahead by 2 or 3 points in the Sunshine State for weeks now. I guarantee you no one in the Obama campaign or the media (but I repeat myself) will admit it's anything but a toss-up, but we will win Florida on Election Night. 206+29=235.
● Good news for Andrew Price. Our founder's childhood state (Virginia) and current place of residence (Colorado), though close, are trending red. The former we could see coming a few weeks back, when Suffolk Polling, a fairly reputable firm, announced it was stopping surveys there and in NC and FL, as all three were GOP locks. The polls are now starting to reflect that, and the same is happening in Colorado. It'll be close, but look for wins in those two states. 235 plus 13 plus 9 gets us to 257 electoral votes.
● Plan A: Ohio. The Buckeye State is a doozy, no doubt, and I for one am sick and tired of Romney/Ryan having to try and coax it over. As if we haven't all heard the "No Republican has ever won the White House without Ohio" line 900 billion times, there's also the fact that the state's unemployment rate is lower than the national average, and it benefited from the auto bailout, so a lot of people there are going to think they're pretty well off under Obama. BUT, the same signs of a rightward drift are evident there as elsewhere, and the polls showing TOTUS up tend to be heavily oversampling Democrats. Plus, early voting so far, while favoring Obama, has done so by a far smaller margin than in '08. The margin of victory for either candidate won't be more than a point or two, but I think it's likely that the nationwide trends will pull Ohio towards Romney in the end.So that's the score. What do I think the final number on November 6 will be? It depends on how optimistic you want to be. Personally, I can't bear the thought of Romney and Ryan not being in the White House after this is done, so I'm going to take the 257 number I mentioned above, add in 4 from New Hampshire, 10 from Wisconsin, and 18 from Ohio, and come up with (interlude for math)--289 electoral votes for the Republican ticket, and 249 for the current occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania. This is a completely arbitrary number, of course; 11 days is still an eternity in a presidential race, and there are a couple of wild cards, like Nevada and Iowa, which will likely be unreadable to the very end. But it's a defensible number. So take it for what it's worth, make up your own predictions if you must, and remember, on November 6, in the event I've gotten this all wrong--stock up on alcohol. Lots and lots of alcohol.
● Plan B: Wisconsin-New Hampshire-Iowa. The Romney campaign has been putting increasing attention into Wisconsin and Iowa of late. Ryan will obviously be doing a lot of stumping in his home state, Obama's Super PACs are dumping money back into the state (which they wouldn't do if they thought the state was secure), and Romney will be giving a major economic speech in Iowa today. Plus, New Hampshire, where Mitt has obvious roots, has been trending red in the polls lately. They haven't been showing that kind of movement in the other two states, but after the failed Walker recall this summer, I'm optimistic that the GOP's ground game will pull off the upset in Wisconsin, at least, and combine that with New Hampshire to put us over the top if Ohio fails. In fact, I personally would like nothing better than for us to win without Ohio and then stop treating that state as the Holy Grail of politics.
● Longshots. There's Michigan and there's Pennsylvania, the Great White Whales of the Republican Party. Obama's up in both states, and has been for a while, but the margin has been narrowing lately. Realistically, there is probably no scenario in which either of these states is the one to put us over the top. But if we see a major shift nationwide before Election Day and Romney starts taking all the states I've mentioned, then we're talking landslide victory, in which one or both of these could be swept along.