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The 10 closest states in Election 2012

After spending months staring at the electoral map and trying to puzzle out which states might go for President Obama, which for Mitt Romney and by how much, we thought it was worth sorting through the actual results to find the 10 states where the two men ran closest.

These 10 states are likely to be the swing states of the future, the places where both parties -- in presidential elections but also midterm races -- target their time and money in hopes of swaying a relatively evenly divided electorate.

Before we get to the list of states, a few fun facts:

* Of the 10 states, Obama won nine of them. (North Carolina was the lone Romney victory.)

* Only one -- Florida -- appears likely to be decided by less than a single percentage point. (At the moment, Obama leads Romney by 0.6 percent with 99 percent of precincts reporting.) That's a change from 2008 when three states were decided by less than a point: Missouri (0.1 percent), North Carolina (0.4 percent) and Indiana (0.9 percent).

* Of the three states where Romney pledged to expand the map -- Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania -- only one (Pennsylvania) makes our top 10 closest races. In Michigan, Obama won by 8.5 points, while he carried Minnesota by 7.6 points.

Without further ado, here are our top 10 closest states, ranked from narrowest margin -- by percentage -- to widest. If less than 100 percent of precincts are reporting in a state, according to the Associated Press, that is noted in parentheses.

1. Florida: 0.6 percent (Obama 49.9, Romney 49.3.)

2. Ohio: 1.9 percent (Obama 50.1, Romney 48.2)

3. North Carolina: 2.2 percent (Romney 50.6, Obama 48.4)

4. Virginia (99% reporting): 3.0 percent (Obama 50.8, Romney 47.8)

5. Colorado: 4.7 percent (Obama 51.2, Romney 46.5)

6. Pennsylvania (99% reporting): 5.2 percent (Obama 52, Romney 46.8)

7. Iowa: 5.6 percent (Obama 52.1, Romney 46.5)

8. New Hampshire (99% reporting): 5.8 percent (Obama 52.2, Romney 46.4)

9. Nevada (99% reporting): 6.6 percent (Obama 52.3, Romney 45.7)

10. Wisconsin: 6.7 percent (Obama 52.8, Romney 46.1)

The future of compromise: So the government of 2013 will look a lot like the government of 2012 and 2011, but will there be more compromise?

We're getting conflicting signals.

One potentially major shift is House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) saying his party may be open to revenue (read: tax) increases as a part of budget dealing.

"For purposes of forging a bipartisan agreement that begins to solve the problem, we’re willing to accept new revenue, under the right conditions," Boehner said Wednesday.

That statement stands in stark contrast to the GOP's usual tack, which is "no new taxes, period." At a GOP presidential debate earlier this year, all the candidates were asked whether they would accept a budget deal with $10 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases, and every one of them said they would turn it down.

Boehner's comments are sure to cause some controversy in the no-new-taxes bloc of the GOP (a sizable bloc), which has threatened GOP incumbents in primaries when they haven't fallen in line.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said, "I'll dance."

But two other major players weren't as kumbaya about the whole thing.

Vice President Biden said Obama's win represented a mandate for his tax plan, which would allow tax cuts for the wealthy to expire.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), whose reduced minority can still filibuster Demcorats' bills, disagreed, saying Democrats and Obama need to be willing to compromise more with Republicans despite their win.

"The voters have not endorsed the failures or excesses of the president’s first term; they have simply given him more time to finish the job they asked him to do together with a Congress that restored balance to Washington after two years of one-party control," McConnell said.

Boehner's comments are particularly big. Stay tuned.

Elections update: A few updates in the un-called races since yesterday afternoon.

In Arizona, former congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.) claimed victory over Republican Jonathan Paton in the 1st district. In California, state Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D) beat Republican state Sen. Tony Strickland (R). And in Michigan, freshman Rep. Dan Benishek (R) edged out Democrat Gary McDowell in their rematch and will continue to represent his Upper Peninsula-based district.

Democrats have gained two seats so far, but they lead in five of six races that have yet to be called. They are currently facing a 234-195 Republican majority, and 235-200 if things hold as they are in the final six races.

Meanwhile, the open Washington state governor's race remained the only statewide race that hasn't been called yet. Former congressman Jay Inslee (D) led state Attorney General Rob McKenna (R) 51-49 with 54 percent of precincts reporting in the ballot-by-mail state.


Tuesday's election saw a likely drop in turnout from 2008.

Here's the transition website Romney's campaign had apparently created in case he won.

Newt Gingrich says he was wrong and that he and other Republican heavyweights "misunderstood what was happening in the country."

Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), who lost to Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) on Tuesday, is being mentioned as a replacement for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) says he has enough support to become the next chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. But Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) is expressing interest in the job too.

Meanwhile, current NRSC Chairman John Cornyn (R-Texas) might have hurt his chances at becoming Senate GOP Whip with a poor performance Tuesday. Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) has expressed some interest in the whip job, though Cornyn remains unopposed for now. Current Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) is retiring.

Jeff Johnson, a Hennepin County commissioner and Republican National Committeeman in Minnesota, is considering a run for governor in 2014. Gov. Mark Dayton (D) is in his first term.


"Despite new ID laws, election system performed well, experts say" -- Jerry Markon, Washington Post