Friday, June 15, 2012

Electoral Map Update - Ohio Shifts to Romney

Days Until the Election: 144
Projected Popular Vote Total: Obama +0.8%
Projected Electoral Vote Total: Obama 285, Romney 253

Shifts Since Last Week:
Ohio moves from Lean Obama to Lean Romney

Not a lot has actually changed in the past week in the Presidential race.  The average of averages for national polls is almost identical (+0.8% this week for Obama versus +0.9% last week.)  And we only had a single state shift categories.

The reason it feels different is that one shift happened in Ohio and its 18 electoral votes swing from Obama to Romney in our total, edging him closer to 270.

But it feels more different than it is.  Both last week and this week we have a very tight race.  And both last week and this week, the clearest path for Obama to be re-elected is still the same (hold what you've got) and the clearest path for Romney to win the Presidency is still the same (win Ohio, Virginia and either Iowa or Colorado.)

From a strategy standpoint, there are a number of ways the candidates could approach this race.

For Obama, he could:
(1) Try to hold what he's got
He has enough electoral votes to win, as I project today.  Concentrate resources on holding Virginia, which would effectively block most of Romney's paths to the Presidency.

(2) Go for the Dagger in Ohio or Florida
Losing either Ohio or Florida makes it, for all practical purposes, impossible for Romney to win the Presidency.  If the President can make a stand in economically recovering Ohio or heavily Hispanic Florida by focusing on relevant issues in those areas, he can win.

(3) Play a road game
The Democratic National Convention is in North Carolina.  Certainly, a Democratic win there would be a deathblow for Romney.  Obama could also force Romney to play defense in Indiana (which Obama won in 2008), Missouri (which he very nearly won) and Arizona (which is now more in play without McCain on the GOP ticket.)

For Romney, he could:
(1) Go for the path of least resistance
Hold his current leads and push hard in Virginia, Colorado and Iowa, hoping for the Virginia + 1 strategy mentioned above.  It's certainly his cleanest path to victory and if the national polls move another 2 to 3 points in his favor, it seems very viable.

(2) End it All in Pennsylvania
It is very difficult to see a path for Obama to win re-election without winning the state of Pennsylvania.  Romney could focus his considerable resources there, especially in Pittsburgh, Harrisburg and the conservative rural areas and ease his path to victory.  Of course, John McCain tried this strategy and failed.

(3) Broaden the field
Wisconsin seems to swinging more conservatively these days.  Michigan's economy is still rough and it's Romney's birth state, where his name still carries some clout.  Both seem ripe for a competitive fight and both would seriously complicate Obama's re-election bid.

I suspect that early in the race, the candidates will attempt to play road games and broaden the field, given the massive amount of money at both of their disposal and the fluidity of the electoral map.  However, as the race winds down, in the last 30 days, I'd expect them to focus on the closest of swing states.

The national lead and the state-by-state breakdown coming out of the two party conventions will be very telling in shaping the race.

But, for now, we have a very close race, led marginally by President Obama.

No comments: