Lo and behold, conventional wisdom has now changed. The Associated Press writes: “Warning signs for Obama on tight path to 270.” The AP explains:
Obama’s new worries about North Carolina and Wisconsin offer opportunities for Republican Mitt Romney, who must peel off states Obama won in 2008 if he’s to cobble together the 270 electoral votes needed to oust the incumbent in November.
Iowa, which kicked off the campaign in January, is now expected to be tight to the finish, while New Mexico, thought early to be pivotal, seems to be drifting into Democratic territory.
If the election were today, Obama would likely win 247 electoral votes to Romney’s 206, according to an Associated Press analysis of polls, ad spending and key developments in states, along with interviews with more than a dozen Republican and Democratic strategists both inside and outside of the two campaigns.
Seven states, offering a combined 85 electoral votes, are viewed as too close to give either candidate a meaningful advantage: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio and Virginia.
Among that group, you have to like Romney’s chance in Florida, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia, with Iowa and Colorado going to the President Obama. That puts Romney’s total at 276.
The New York Times,likewise, puts Romney’s current total at 206.
In other words, without Wisconsin, Michigan, Colorado and Pennsylvania, and with either New Hampshire or Nevada, Romney can get to 270. That’s a lot of leeway, isn’t it?
As I argued back in April, Romney’s task is to win back some of the states Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) lost in 2008, but which President Bush carried in 2000 and/or 2004. Romney does not need to, although he certainly could, win states such as Wisconsin (which Bush lot by less than 1 percent both times), New Mexico (which Bush won in 2004) or Iowa (which Bush also won in 2004).
To a large degree, most of the polling you see is irrelevant. For example, Romney is losing the Hispanic vote badly in national polling to Obama. But if you take out states with some of the largest Hispanic populations in deep red (Texas, Georgia) or deep blue (California, New York, Illinois and New Jersey) — that is, states not in play — is Obama doing all that well? Is the Hispanic vote going to be decisive in states like Ohio, Virginia and New Hampshire? Maybe not so much. We don’t have precise data, but the current national poll numbers on Hispanic voters aren’t predictive of much of anything.
Finally, this certainly could be an election in which Obama could get the majority of the popular vote by racking up big wins in populous states (California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, where Romney will probably not bother to spend time or money) and nevertheless lose the Electoral College. Such a result would bring howls from the left about the Electoral College and accusations that Romney would not have political “legitimacy,” but that, as everyone knows, doesn’t amount to much. For all the caterwauling, it’s still a race to 270, and Romney has broad and multiple pathways to get there.