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.
Projected Electoral College result: Obama 332, Romney 206
A month into this little feature, and the big number — the projected result in the Electoral College — has not budged. That’s great news if you’re President Barack Obama, as it underscores the difficulty that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is encountering in his efforts to convince swing voters that he is a better alternative. Obama’s favorability ratings continue to rise, Romney’s continue to erode, and now there’s a better than seven-point spread between them among likely voters.
What has changed this week, in a trend that also favors Obama, is the numbers within the numbers. Updated polling averages from 22 states result in a change of status for 10 of them, by far the most active week we’ve had. Collectively, these results indicate a hardening of battle lines — meaning that the number of undecided voters in key states continues to shrink — in a way that almost completely favors the President.
Locked for Obama (179 votes): California, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, 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
Add Connecticut and Maine to the list of states that Obama is virtually certain to win. As we’ll see below, this deepens a continuing trend away from Romney that started as a relative trickle after the party conventions and now threatens to become a full-blown flood.
Likely Obama (58 votes): Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania
Likely Romney (49 votes): Georgia, Missouri, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee
If you Google the phrase “can’t win for losing,” you won’t see a photograph of Mitt Romney — but perhaps you should. Even as new numbers in Georgia move that state from Leaning to Likely Romney, the GOP nominee sees Arizona, Indiana and Montana slip from Likely to Leaning. Meanwhile, onetime battleground Michigan — which moved from Tossup to Leaning Obama only last week — now seems solidly in the President’s column. Likewise Minnesota, a general Democratic stronghold in Presidential politics where Romney had shown signs of making competitive — until the past couple of weeks.
Leaning Obama (10 votes): Wisconsin
Leaning Romney (25 votes): Arizona, Indiana, Montana
If Romney’s selection of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate was supposed to pull that state into his column, it’s not working. Wisconsin moves from Tossup to Leaning Obama. The only downside for Obama is that New Hampshire, which we moved into his column just last week, is now a tossup again. Even so, the movement of Wisconsin gives the President a six point net gain in the cumulative score in non-tossup states: It’s now 247-191, leaving Obama just 23 electoral votes short of the total needed to win.
Tossups (100 votes): Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia
Want to quantify the trouble Romney’s in? Of the 100 electoral votes that are totally up for grabs at present, he has to win 79 of them — and with the exception of tightening numbers in Colorado and New Hampshire, the numbers are all in Obama’s favor. He continues to lead in every Tossup state except North Carolina, and Romney’s lead there has shrunk to a virtual tie, as Obama leads in three of the five most recent polls.
Thumbnail analysis: Last week, we described Romney’s path to victory as a “thread-the-needle challenge.” This week, the eye of the needle got smaller, and not just in terms of our updated polling numbers; continuing yet another trend against Romney, criticism of his campaign is growing among prominent Republicans. The Romney campaign now appears to be pinning its hopes on turning public opinion around with a strong performance in the Presidential debates, the first of which is scheduled for October 3.