With less than three weeks to go in the election campaign, two presidential and one vice-presidential debate behind us, more and more of us have taken a measure of the candidates and made voting decisions. Many have voted early: about 18 million compared with 15 million at this time in 2008.
The polls have varied somewhat, more in some states than in others. However, these are starting to settle. Nevertheless, there remains the serious problem in some states and in some polls of under-counting the views of some groups, notably younger Americans and also Hispanic Americans. In some states this problem may increasingly under count some Obama supporters, though this may be a problem only in a few states.
At present, in states in which there is a very solid Romney lead, there are 158 total electoral votes at play. An additional 33 electoral votes are leaning toward Romney in three states. Both Missouri and Indiana appear solid and would add 21 electoral votes to bring the total to 179 electoral votes for Governor Romney. The other state, Arizona, may be too close to call.
In the Democratic column there are states with 185 electoral votes which appear solid for President Obama, and an additional 52 electoral votes in four states which are leaning toward the Democratic column: these are Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and New Mexico. Leads in most polls suggest these states will be in the Democratic column, but we come back and take a further look at this later. Assuming all of the Democratic leaning states remain in the Democratic column that gives 237 electoral votes to President Obama. Since 270 electoral votes are required for election, only 33 electoral votes would be required from among the 10 states that are presently too close to call.
In most recent polls the President leads by greater the 3 percent in five of the 10 states, but by lower than 3 percent in four others. Governor Romney leads by greater than three percent in one state. If the President were to capture all five states in which he presently leads in the polls by greater than three percentage points, he would capture 280 electoral votes and win the election. He could lose two of these states: New Hampshire with four electoral votes and Iowa with six electoral votes and still achieve the required 270 electoral votes.
The four states in which the President has less than a three point lead (Arizona, Colorado, Virginia, and Florida) have a total of 62 electoral votes at play. If any one of these states went to the President, that would make up for the loss of New Hampshire and Iowa combined. Nevertheless, if we put all 62 votes into the Romney column, that gives the Republican candidate only 241 electoral votes. The one remaining state among the 10 that are too close to call, but which is presently trending for Governor Romney. North Carolina adds 15 electoral votes to give a total of 256, and an election outcome of 280 (Obama) to 256 (Romney).
To change the outcome Republicans must capture from the President Ohio or any two of the other states in which there is a total of 14 or more electoral votes at play (Iowa-6, Nevada-6, Colorado-9, and Wisconsin-10). Another option is to capture one or more of the above-noted Democratic leaning states (New Mexico-5, Minnesota-10, Pennsylvania-20, or Michigan-16). President Obama leads in the polls 10 percent in Minnesota and New Mexico. Thus, Michigan and Pennsylvania are more likely possibilities, although perhaps less likely than reversing trends in the 5 Democratic column from among the 10 states noted above as too close to call.
In general, while the outcome of the election is by no means certain, accumulating the necessary electoral votes for victory seems at this juncture more favorable for President Obama than it is for Governor Romney. The former can accumulate the necessary 270 electoral votes in a number of ways while the latter has to have a break away from present trends in one or more of the too close to call states. One small mistake by either of the two campaigns could easily spell victory by the other.
It is also worth suggesting that if the election is as close as it could be and there is a basis for contesting the voting in one or more states, this election could easily be decided by the Supreme Court. However, discussion over a contested state or states by the Court would start with neither candidate over 270. Resolution by the Court would then have to place one of the candidates over 270 electoral votes.
Please Follow Richard on Twitter: https://twitter.com/pebblerick
Richard A. Hudson is a writer, reader and blogger committed to exercise, proper nutrition and health. He’s interested in politics, economics, alternative energy, gardening and sustainability and has written brief essays on many of these topics on his bloghttp://richlynne.wordpress.com. Despite his generally positive and optimistic views about globalization, he wonders whether we will survive current destructive forces that increasingly promote warfare among political and social classes. He is also beginning to think about the declining influence of the know-it-all baby boomer generation just as the next generation born in the 60s begins to slowly stumble into a dominant position in the U.S.
He received a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Chicago (1966) and subsequently spent 42 years in academics, gradually developing all sorts of interests well beyond his basic training. He ended his academic career in 2008, having published about 100 scientific papers, reviews and commentaries. In his last several years in the academy, his role as Dean of the Graduate School afforded him many opportunities to interact with students from all over the world seeking graduate degrees.