Looking over Middle Cheese’s report and other data, I feel pretty confident about Mitt Romney’s chances in Florida, Virginia, North Carolina (not really on most people’s list of swing states anymore), and Colorado. That puts him at 257 electoral votes.
In New Hampshire (4 electoral votes), that WMUR poll looks pretty strange, in that they have Romney leading independents, 50–36, but losing overall, 51 percent to 48 percent. The sample splits 44 percent Democrat, 37.9 percent Republican, 16.9 percent independent. Democrats made up 29 percent of the electorate on Election Day 2008. Still, the only pollsters who have Romney ahead in New Hampshire are Rasmussen and ARG, so that one can’t be automatically tossed into the Romney pile. The Granite State is probably going to be very close.
At this point, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Romney win any of the “Mustache Firewall” states of Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes), Michigan (16), or Minnesota (10), but for now the most likely scenario is that Romney overperforms the traditional Republican level in these states and gets about a percentage point higher than the best Bush total, finishing with something like 48.6 percent in Minnesota (Bush 2004 + 1) 49.4 in Pennsylvania (Bush 2004 + 1), and 48.9 percent in Michigan (Bush 2000 + 1). In other words, Axelrod’s facial hair hangs on by a . . . well, hair. For what it’s worth, there are 21,000 still without power in the Philadelphia area. Not likely to be a huge factor, but . . .
Ohio (18 electoral votes) will be very close. The problem for Romney is that even if you toss out the polls that have unrealistic samples — i.e., the percentage of the electorate self-identifying as Democratic significantly ahead of 2008’s 39 percent — you still have only one poll in recent weeks that has ever had Romney ahead — Rasmussen, and Rasmussen’s most recent poll puts it at a 49–49 tie. Today’s “Ohio Poll” from the University of Cincinnati says it’s “too close to call,” putting it at 50 percent to 48.5 percent in favor of Obama. There is a chance that the GOP turnout is as huge as the big crowds suggest, and the Romney campaign’s confidence about coal country is probably well founded. The Columbus Dispatch poll also indicated that Romney enjoyed a “4-point edge in northwestern Ohio, which in past elections has proved a reliable barometer for the whole state.”
The Romney campaign boasts that “in Ohio, Republicans have 368,000 more high-propensity voters available than Democrats — 72 percent more, in fact — and enough to off-set the Obama campaign’s most optimistic (and unrealistic) early vote math.”
So a narrow Romney win is possible — the problem is that a solid Romney win is hard to envision, and as John Fund points out, it may take weeks to sort out the “provisional ballots” cast on Election Day. A 2000-style “overtime” seems increasingly plausible.
In Nevada (6 electoral votes), I think turnout among Mormons will help Romney overcome some of the conventional wisdom about the state being deep blue, but two factors have me keeping this state in the Obama pile: the fact that Obama is hitting 50 percent in this state regularly (while not being able to do so in other key states and nationally), and Jon Ralston’s gut. In most years and most states, if you can knock eight or nine points off an incumbent president’s lead, that’s enough to win, but not here.
Late last week, we looked at why the Romney campaign feels confident about Iowa (6 electoral votes). There were two key X factors in that equation — the Romney campaign’s assertion that they have about 87,000 more “high propensity voters” ready to vote on Election Day, and the Marist poll’s finding that Romney leads by nine percentage points among independents who plan to vote on Election Day. If those are true, Romney wins. If those aren’t, he probably falls short.
Wisconsin (10 electoral votes) will be the intriguing one. Rasmussen has it a tie, the crowd for the rally with Bruce Springsteen was 18,000 this morning (about 80,000 came out for a Kerry rally with Springsteen in 2004), Ryan’s presence should help some, we know the GOP turnout operations are a well-oiled machine since the Scott Walker recall election, and we know RNC chair Reince Priebus spared no effort or resource to move his home state. I’ll put this one in the Romney-Ryan pile, but just by a hair.
With Wisconsin, Romney’s at 267 votes, and needs just one of the following too-close-to-call states: Iowa, Ohio, or New Hampshire, or one of the Mustache Firewall states.
UPDATE: Note that there are two strange indicators pointing to a map where most or all of these swing states flip to Romney: the Gallup projection of the 2012 electorate (36 percent Republican, 35 percent Democratic, a 49–46 split in favor of the GOP with leaners, based on a sample of 9,424 likely voters) and Rasmussen’s projection of a 39.1 percent Republican, 33.3 percent Democratic electorate.