Assuming those states continue to stay in Obama’s column, the president would need only 27 of the remaining 89 electoral votes to win. Romney would need 64 of the 89, which explains why Obama still has an easier — but by no means certain — path to an Electoral College majority. For example, he could win a second term simply by winning Florida, which remains competitive.
If the Sunshine State goes for Romney, then much will depend on Ohio, which is why it is the focus of so much campaign activity in the final days. Its 18 electoral votes represent the bulwark of Obama’s Midwestern line of defense against Romney.
If the president were to carry Ohio — and he continues to hold a narrow lead in public polls there — he could win an electoral majority by adding Virginia (13 electoral votes) or Wisconsin (10) or Colorado (nine), or by winning Iowa (six) and New Hampshire (four).
If Romney does not win Ohio, his path to victory would have to include Colorado, Florida, Virginia, Wisconsin and either Iowa or New Hampshire. But if he does capture the Buckeye State, he could become president by taking Florida and Virginia and then just one other contested state.
The Post-ABC tracking survey underscored the closeness of the race nationally. During two weeks of polling, the largest lead by either candidate was 50 percent to 47 percent, favoring Romney. Obama’s biggest was one point. Neither was statistically significant.
Obama’s job approval rating continues to hold at 50 percent, with 34 percent saying they strongly approve and 39 percent saying they strongly disapprove. Romney holds a statistically insignificant three-point edge on who is trusted more to handle the economy. Obama has a six-point advantage on who better understands Americans’ economic problems.
Through most of the campaign and as recently as October, more voters offered unfavorable than favorable impressions of Romney. Today a majority of likely voters has a favorable view. In fact, he and Obama are virtually tied on this measure: 54 percent say they have a favorable impression of the president, while 53 percent say the same of Romney.
For the first time in the Post-ABC poll, independent voters are evenly split between the two candidates, at 46 percent each. Until now, Romney has held an advantage ranging from three to 20 points. Obama leads among women by six points, Romney among men by seven points.
Obama is winning 38 percent of white voters and 78 percent of non-whites. He gets 33 percent of whites without college degrees and 44 percent of whites with college degrees.