The Fix: electoral map

How Paul Ryan impacts the electoral map. Or doesn’t.

The word “game-changer” is being thrown around quite a bit in regards Mitt Romney’s selection as Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate over the weekend.

And there is a case to be made — and Republicans will make it — that Ryan re-focuses the election on the need for big ideas and hard truths.

But, does Ryan really change the game as it relates to the race for 270 electoral votes? Not really, according to our latest look at the Fix’s electoral map.

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North Carolina moves to “Lean Romney” in Fix electoral map

For months, we’ve struggled with how to rate North Carolina in the 2012 race between President Obama and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

In our first electoral map predictions, we put it into the “toss up” category but the longer we looked at the states with which it shared that rating, the more it looked like the one state that didn’t belong. And so, we are moving North Carolina from “toss up” to “lean Romney” today.

(Check out the full map — with historical data and tons of other cool stuff here.)

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The 9 swing states of 2012

Our favorite part of the general election campaign is fiddling with the electoral map to puzzle out the paths to 270 electoral votes for each of the candidates. (And, yes, there’s an app for that.)

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., second from left, points toward a map of the US during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 21, 2012, to urge the House to pass a bipartisan transportation bill. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
We did a fair amount of noodling on the map over the weekend for our Monday Fix newspaper column — yes, we write in the newspaper occasionally too! — and came up with our initial analysis of the playing field.

To our mind, there are nine truly swing states — Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin — where the election will be decided. Those states will hand out 110 electoral votes in November, roughly 41 percent of the 270 votes President Obama or former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney need to win.

Obama starts with the edge in these swing states. He carried all nine in 2008 with an average margin of victory of 7.6 percentage points. But, six of the nine states went for George W. Bush in both 2000 and 2004.

Our quick take on each of the nine states is after the jump. We will be revisiting our swing states — and the broader electoral map — lots between now and November so stay tuned!

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