Leading up to the November 6 Presidential election, Weld is tracking the projected outcome in the Electoral College. Based on analysis of rolling monthly polling averages in each state, electoral votes are awarded in a tiered system that identifies every state as either Locked, Likely, Leaning or a Tossup. In determining the weekly vote totals, tossup states are awarded based on which candidate is leading in that state. It takes 270 electoral votes to win the Presidency.
This might be apropos of nothing, but it’s one of those points that’s odd enough to be interesting: in Florida, where Barack Obama’s polling lead was paper thin before the Republican convention in Tampa, the President now has breathing room. Likewise, in North Carolina, Mitt Romney’s lead has grown since the Democrats wrapped up their convention in Charlotte.
Actually, Romney should be developing a special spot in his heart for the Tar Heel State, along with Wisconsin. Why? Because those are the only two states that are even close to being competitive in which the former Massachusetts governor is polling better now than he was before the party conventions. Meanwhile, last week’s speculation — that top GOP donors and interest groups were threatening to abandon the Romney campaign and concentrate on capturing both houses of Congress — has become reality; several conservative leaders have aired unflattering public critiques of the Republican nominee.
Barring a national disaster of major magnitude or self-inflicted damage to the Obama campaign, rising poll numbers in key states are pushing the President’s prospects for re-election toward mathematical and logistical certainty. Moreover, current polls show that respondents trust Obama more than Romney on both the economy and foreign policy.
Projected Electoral College result: Obama 332, Romney 206
Locked for Obama (168 votes): California, DC, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington
Locked for Romney (117 votes): Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming
“These states aren’t going anywhere,” we said last week. Just how bad is it getting for Romney? New numbers in Nebraska show his lead there eroding substantially.
Likely Obama (43 votes): Connecticut, Maine, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania
Likely Romney (58 votes): Arizona, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee
Obama’s leads have increased in Connecticut and New Mexico. Romney’s leads in Arizona and Montana have shrunk.
Leaning Obama (30 votes): Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire
Leaning Romney (16 votes): Georgia
Michigan and New Hampshire move from Tossup status to Leaning Obama. The cumulative score in non-tossup states is 241-191, Obama — his largest electoral vote projection to date. By contrast, Romney’s needle has not moved since, roughly speaking, May.
Tossups (106 votes): Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin
Other than North Carolina and Wisconsin — Obama still enjoys a marginal lead in the latter, even as the trend has favored Romney — the remaining Tossup states are moving, to varying degrees, away from the GOP ticket. That’s problematic, because here’s a fact: One of those states is Ohio, and if Romney doesn’t win there, he doesn’t win — right now, he’s about four points down.
Thumbnail analysis: Romney’s path to victory is a thread-the-needle challenge. His best-case scenario nets him 276-262 win in the Electoral College. With the movement of Michigan and New Hampshire to Obama and more ground to make up elsewhere, he’s running out of places to get the votes he needs to have even a chance of winning. Also: He has to win currently undecided voters in all key states by margins that can only be described as ungodly. Prediction: By the end of the first week in October, the Romney campaign will either have found traction for a go-for-broke stretch run, or it will have imploded, allowing Obama to coast to victory as he did against John McCain four years ago.