The race to 270: Why President Obama has the Easier Road

In 2008, Barack Obama won 365 electoral votes to John McCain’s meager 173. Keeping in mind Obama only needed 270 electoral votes to become president, 365 votes was quite the landslide. This upcoming 2012 presidential election sets up to be a much closer race.

Historically, presidential elections have been determined by just a handful of states. The media tends to refer to these states as battleground or swing states. At the moment, eleven states appear to still be winnable by either side. Those states include Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida. Though unless something drastic takes place in the next few months, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Michigan, and Nevada all appear to be likely Obama victories.

The latest polls have Obama winning Pennsylvania (by eight to ten points) and Michigan (four to six points) by a comfortable margin. Considering that 1988 was the last year a Republican presidential candidate won either Michigan or Pennsylvania, they seem likely to stay blue this time around. While New Hampshire and Nevada appear to be tighter races, they too seem likely to be Democratic wins. The latest polls have President Obama maintaining a four point lead over Mitt Romney in both New Hampshire and Nevada. President Obama carried both of these states in 2008 as well. Putting these four states in the Democratic column would leave President Obama with 247 votes to Mitt Romney’s 191 votes

In this rather probable scenario, seven states and one hundred electoral votes would determine this presidential election. In 2008, then Senator Obama won all seven of these states. This time around, of those seven states, President Obama only needs Florida or a combination of two or three of the smaller swing states to get to the magic number of 270. Though a Romney victory is not impossible by any means, the electoral math is simply much more challenging for him.

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