President Obama carries a significant, but far from determinative, edge over former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in the race for 270 electoral votes this fall, according to the first detailed analysis of the map conducted by the Fix.

Obama starts the general election with 15 states (plus the District of Columbia) and 196 electoral votes solidly for him while Romney begins with 21 states and 170 electoral votes solidly in his corner. (One of the states solidly for Romney is Indiana, where Obama won in 2008 but no one expects a repeat performance in 2012.)

Another three states — Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes), Michigan (16) and New Mexico (5) — lean toward Obama while Arizona (11) and Missouri (10) lean toward Romney.

Add up the states solidly for Obama and those leaning his way and you get 237 electoral votes. Add up the states solidly for Romney and those leaning his way and you get 191 electoral votes.

While Obama is closer to the prize than Romney, victory will likely come for either man from the nine swing states — Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin and Virginia — that are considered genuine toss-ups in our first electoral college predictions.

Those nine states comprise 110 electoral votes; whichever candidate wins a majority of them will almost certainly win the presidency.

As with the overall map, Obama starts with an edge — if 2008 is any guide — in the Fix swing states. He carried every single one of them in 2008 and, even more striking, his average margin of victory across those nine states was 7.6 percent.

In order to increase his own margin for error in those nine swing states, Romney would need to put a major electoral vote treasure — Pennsylvania is the most obvious — more in play than it appears now. Win Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes, and all of a sudden Romney’s relatively narrow path opens up somewhat.

Still, in our baseline analysis of the 2012 electoral map, you’d rather be Obama than Romney.

Of course, the election isn’t for another 173 days. And things can — and will — change. That’s why every week, we’ll be updating our electoral map as states get more (and less competitive) thanks to ad buys, polls and candidate attention. So, if your favorite state isn’t where you think it should be, maybe it will be next week.

Stay tuned. And make sure to check out the amazing interactive graphic that allows you to slice and dice the electoral map and the U.S. electorate in every way you can possibly imagine — and in some you would have never imagined.

Still not satisfied? Here’s Fix Original Recipe explaining how we arrived at our picks:

Romney repeats 100,000 jobs created claim: Romney is back to saying that Bain Capital created 100,000 jobs.

During a radio interview Wednesday, Romney defended himself from attacks by Obama’s campaign and supporters by saying that Bain Capital created 100,000 jobs.

“And of course they don’t mention a couple of other things,” Romney said, according to ABC News. “One is we were able to create over 100,000 jobs, and secondly, on the president’s watch, about 100,000 jobs were lost in the auto industry and auto dealers and auto manufacturers. So you know, he’s hardly one to point a finger.”

Romney’s campaign has switched between claiming that Bain created 100,000 jobs and “thousands” of jobs, leaving reporters to wonder which is the official line from the campaign.

NRCC names eight ‘contenders’: The National Republican Congressional Committee has advanced eight candidates to the third stage of its four-stage “Young Guns” program for top recruits.

The NRCC now has 12 candidates at the final stage, “Young Gun,”and 15 at the third stage, “contender.” Dozens of candidates reside at the second stage, “on the radar.”

The candidates moving to the third stage are:

· Kim Vann (Garamendi, CA-03)

· John Tavaglione (Open, CA-41)

· Joe Coors (Perlmutter, CO-07)

· Ben Lange (Braley, IA-01)

· John Archer (Loebsack, IA-02)

· Dan Dolan (Loebsack, IA-02)

· David Rouzer (McIntyre, NC-07)

· Maggie Brooks (Slaughter, NY-25)

Republicans promise they will play offense in 2012, despite having to defend their biggest House majority in 60 years.

Similarly, Democrats have named 35 candidates to their “Red to Blue” program for top challengers and open seat candidates.

Ron Paul intrigue in Nevada: Ron Paul supporters, who have taken over the Clark County (a.k.a. Las Vegas) Republican Party in Nevada, have voted to censure Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus for supporting Romney.

Meanwhile, Jon Ralston reports that the RNC will set up a shadow party in Nevada to work around the Paul-dominated state party.

The two moves reflect the growing pains in the Republican Party as it attempts to deal with rolling Paul supporters in its regular mix.

The moves being made by those Paul supporters at the local and state level should not be underestimated. And especially if Nevada is any indication, they could cause plenty of headaches for the GOP establishment.


Romney camp says his staff was out of line when it restricted reporters’ access at an event.

A new poll suggests Romney’s Mormon faith may actually be a boon to him in the general election.

The Obama campaign is launching its Veterans and Military Families for Obama effort today with an event in Norfolk, Va. The campaign will also hold a conference call at 12:30 p.m. eastern time.

Republicans, meanwhile, are going to start going after Obama and Vice President Biden on coal, launching a new web ad and hosting a conference call this morning with freshman Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) previewing Biden’s trip to eastern Ohio.

A new poll from the Fargo Forum shows Rep. Rick Berg (R-N.D.) leading former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp (D) 51 percent to 44 percent in the state’s open Senate race. Democrats note that the poll included only likely primary voters.

A new ad from Rep. Denny Rehberg’s (R-Mont.) campaign pokes fun at Sen. Jon Tester’s (D-Mont.) recent ad, in which Tester says he brings beef with him to Washington. Rehberg’s ad counters, saying Tester may bring beef to Washington, but he brings baloney back to Montana (voting with Obama, etc.).

Rep. Jeff Flake’s (R-Ariz.) Senate primary opponent takes the gloves off.

Embattled Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) leads primary opponent Anthony Gemma by just four points in a new independent poll by WPRI-TV.

Former Albuquerque mayor Marty Chavez (D) is set to release a very interesting ad today, featuring the candidate repeatedly taking body blows from a boxer while the narrator talks about the things Chavez has been attacked for doing — standing up to George W. Bush, etc. The ad (which is definitely worth a look) was produced by Mark Putnam of Putnam Partners.

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), who faces a tough race post-redistricting, apologizes for saying Obama is “not an American.”


For Open Senate Seat in Connecticut, a G.O.P. Fight” — Peter Applebome, New York Times

Democrats’ Odds of Retaining Senate Improve” — Nate Silver, New York Times

2012, the classic mobilization election” — Reid Wilson, National Journal

No sure thing for GOP: a tight battle for Senate” — David Espo, AP

Insurgents vs. insurgents to push GOP rightward” — David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post