In the last few weeks, there has been a focus in the media on Ohio for next Tuesday’s Presidential election, with the belief being that it is the most crucial of swing states and whoever carries it will win the White House. Not only is this a simplistic look at the race, it is also not true – the way the Electoral College map is shaping up, there is a chance that either President Obama or Governor Romney could win the election without being victorious in Ohio – something that has not happened since 1960, when Richard Nixon won the state, but President Kennedy took the White House.
Back in July, I wrote on how the race was looking state by state and at the time, it appeared that Romney’s path to success was narrow. However, following a single poor performance in the first debate, President Obama has seen his lead evaporate and he now trails by 48% to 47% in the latest national poll – but that has limited importance. Winning the popular vote has not always guaranteed the Presidency: more people voted for Al Gore in 2000 than George Bush (not even counting those that were rejected in the Florida recount); the 20th and 22nd President, Grover Cleveland, gained the most votes in three straight elections, but lost the White House for four years to Benjamin Harrison in 1888; and Andrew Jackson lost in 1824, as did Samuel Tilden fifty years later, despite both having more ballots cast for them than their opponents.
The United States is not a Democracy – it was designed as a Republic where the leader is not elected by the people, rather they vote for the people who will elect the President. Contests are a race to win a majority of the Electoral College Votes, which at the moment means 270 out of 538 – each state having 1 ECV for each Senator (total 100) and House of Representatives seat (435), plus three for the District of Columbia. With less than a week of the campaign left, these are the states we can be (relatively) sure about:
Electoral College Votes (ECVs) in Brackets:
Romney will win:
West Virginia (11); Kentucky (8); Indiana (11); Tennessee (11) South Carolina (9); Georgia (16); Alabama (9); Mississippi (6); Louisiana (8); Arkansas (6); Missouri (10); Texas (38); Oklahoma (7); Kansas (6); Nebraska (5)*; North Dakota (3); South Dakota (3); Montana (3); Wyoming (3); Idaho (4); Utah (6); Arizona (11); Alaska (3). 23 states – 191 ECVs
*Nebraska can split its votes between candidates, as it did in 2008 when President Obama took 1 ECV after winning in the 2nd Congressional District, but it is unlikely to happen again this year according to the latest polls, so I am giving Governor Romney all 5 ECVs
Obama will win:
Maine (4); Massachusetts (11); Connecticut (7); Rhode Island (4); Vermont (3); New Jersey (14); Delaware (3); Maryland (10); Illinois (20); New Mexico (5); California (55); Oregon (7); Washington (12); Hawaii (4); District of Columbia (3). 16 states + D.C. – 191 ECVs
Conveniently leaving both candidates needing 79 more Electoral College Votes to win the White House, with 11 more states up for grabs. If either Governor Romney or President Obama were to lose one of these states, it would be a sign that the entire election was going away from them and could be a landslide victory for their opponent. The most vulnerable of these “safe” states – thus the ones to look out for – are Oregon (where Obama’s lead is down to 6 points) and Arizona (Romney’s lead was down to 5.3 points in October), but as both states are further west than most of the swing states, results will already be coming in before they can provide any indication of a massive swing in either direction. Continue reading