The latest national opinion polls show Mitt Romney running neck and neck with President Obama in the election to take place next November. On the face of it, that should put him in with a very good chance.
But the election is not won in a single, one person one vote, national election, but on a state by state basis, by accumulating electors in the Electoral College. Not all States allocate Electoral College votes in the same way. Some do it on a “winner takes all” basis, and some do it proportionately to the number of votes the contenders got in the state.
The Real Clear Politics website attempts to predict how the Electoral College votes will break down.
Their analysis can be found at
According to their analysis, Barrack Obama starts with 227 Electoral College votes in states that are most likely to give him a majority, and he needs to get to 270 to win.
Mitt Romney starts with only 170 Electoral College votes in states most likely to give him the majority. So he has to win more of the states that could go either way, which are
- Arizona (11 electoral college votes),
- Colorado (9 votes),
- Florida (29),
- Iowa (6),
- Michigan (16),
- Missouri (10),
- New Hampshire (4),
- North Carolina (15),
- Ohio (18),
- Virginia (13), and
- Wisconsin (10).
These are the eleven states where the big money will be spent, and where television viewers will be bombarded with advertisements for and against the two candidates.
Of these eleven swing states, John McCain only won only two in 2008, namely Arizona and Missouri. So he lost the election.
In contrast, George Bush won those two, but also won Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Virginia and North Carolina, and that was enough to give him victory in the Electoral College over John Kerry.
The really big prize on this list is Florida, with 29 votes. Mitt Romney will be tempted strongly to pick someone from Florida as his running mate. Senator Marco Rubio, a man of Cuban American heritage, is a strong contender. As an Hispanic, he may also have a wider appeal, but the anti immigrant rhetoric of many Republican spokespeople will mitigate this.
Ohio has 18 votes, and Senator Rob Portman, if chosen as vice Presidential nominee, would probably bring Ohio in behind Romney, and he has more governmental experience than Senator Rubio .
Mitt Romney himself is a native of Michigan, which should help him there.
Virginia has traditionally been a safe Republican state, in common with almost all states of the Old Confederacy. But, like North Carolina, it has been recently trending Democratic.
As in all elections, turnout will be vital. The huge turnout of African Americans, and young people, for Obama in 2008 will be hard to repeat. On the other hand, Mitt Romney lacks some of the deep patriotic, and non partisan appeal of John Mc Cain.
The economy will be the crucial campaign issue. The US economy seems to be improving, but that recovery may not be evenly spread. Mitt Romney will probably focus most effort in the swing states where the economy is doing less well.
At the end of the day, it will all come down to where those 11 states, and how their 141 Electoral College votes, go.
Other things being equal, if Mitt Romney can win Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Arizona, Missouri, North Carolina and Michigan, he will be President. Winning both Florida and Ohio at the same time will be his biggest task. Michigan will also be very difficult.