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 303, Romney 235
One week after President Barack Obama posted his highest total yet in our projected Electoral College vote count, Mitt Romney turns the tables and does the same. We wrote last week that the former Massachusetts governor needed a historically game-changing performance in the October 3 Presidential debate, and that’s exactly what he turned in.
We can quibble over whether it’s due to Romney’s persuasiveness or a curiously lifeless showing by the President, but the bottom line is the same: polls taken since the debate reveal a dramatic shift toward the challenger in virtually every key state, reversing weeks-old trends in the space of a few days. In the short run, that gives tonight’s debate between VP Joe Biden and Romney running mate Paul Ryan a significance it didn’t have before. Even more importantly, it means that another solid “win” by Romney in the next debate between the Presidential candidates on October 16 will put the GOP candidate in a role that was almost impossible to imagine only a few days ago — that of the favorite.
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
No change in these numbers from last week, which is no real surprise.
Likely Obama (22 votes): Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon
Likely Romney (60 votes): Arizona, Georgia, Missouri, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee
If you’re looking for the most obvious indicators of the Obama slide, look no further: Michigan and Pennsylvania are gone from this category and currently rate as only Leaning for the President. Meanwhile, the latest numbers from Arizona, which was threatening to become competitive, move that state to Likely Romney. To put all that in shorthand, last week, the cumulative Electoral College score in Locked and Likely states was 237-166 Obama; this week, Romney closes the gap to 201-177.
Leaning Obama (50 votes): Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin
Leaning Romney (14 votes): Indiana, Montana
Just last week, we moved Ohio from Tossup to Leaning Obama, noting what an ominous harbinger that presented for the Romney campaign; this week, it moves back to Tossup. In a bit of good news for the President, New Hampshire moves from Tossup to Leaning Obama — but that news comes with the caveat that the latest polls there were completed just before last week’s debate, meaning we don’t know yet if the current numbers will hold up. The new tally in non-tossup states: 251-191 Obama.
Tossups (96 votes): Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia
This is where the Romney drumbeat gets even stronger. After falling behind in our polling average in North Carolina last week, the GOP nominee is back in front there. He’s also moved ahead by a paper-thin margin in Florida, where Obama had built a three-point lead just prior to the first debate. Obama continues to lead in the rest of the Tossup states, though Colorado and Virginia — in each of which he had been pulling away in recent weeks — are now virtual ties.
Thumbnail analysis: All the justifiable hoopla over Romney’s comeback aside, Obama’s path to victory remains highly navigable. On the other hand, if the President can’t retrench and reverse this new trend over the next two weeks, folks on both sides may well be in for a very nervous election night.