Paths To Victory

Ken AshfordElection 2012Leave a Comment

I was going to write a post about who is going to win tomorrow and why it looks REALLY good for Obama.

But the New York Times has an excellent interactive doo-widgey that explains it graphically.  It's totally awesome.

For those who don't click through, here's the bottom line: With the swing states of Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin, Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, there are 512 paths to the White House: Obama has 431 ways he can win; Romney has only 76 ways (and 7 ways end in a tie).

The Times notes that Florida is a must-win for Romney.  If he loses Florida, he has only one way to victory: by winning all the other battleground states mentioned above. However, he has led most polls there, however, and is the favorite.  So let's forget that scenario, and focus on the more likely.

I firmly believe that Obama has Wisconsin.  In fact, of all the toss-up states llisted above, it is the least toss-up-y (according to poll aggregator Real Clear Politics).  It probably shouldn't even be in the toss-up category.  So let's give that to Obama.

When we do that, the paths to victory become more marked.  Obama has 230 paths to win (90% of all paths); Romney has only 24 paths (9.4%).  And 2 paths to a tie.

Now, give Obama Ohio.  That's the second least toss-up-y of the states listed above.  Obama has (according to poll aggregates) a 3 point lead, and it has been more or less consistent throughout the season.  

What happens?

With Wisconsin and Ohio in the Obama column, Obama has 126 ways he can win from the remaining states.  Romney has one.

That's right — one.  Romney would have to win Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada — to win the White House.  And the latest polls only show him with a lead in Florida and North Carolina.  (Note: Romney could win all those states and lose New Hampshire, and then it would be a tie).

In Nevada, by the way, perhaps 65 or 70 percent of its vote has already been cast — and Democrats have roughly a 50,000-ballot lead there based on the votes that have been collected so far.  That's another toss-up state which might be not-so-toss-up-y.

So if you are an Obama supporter, you have to like the lay of the land.

And if you are a Romney supporter, you have to despair or be confused.  Just ask Fox's Bret Hume:

"I think the conventional wisdom is trending now towards a Obama win, something along the lines of what Karl Rove and his team pulled off for President Bush in 2004, but I'm by no means certain. And there's this striking discrepancy between national polls — which tend to be done, by and large, by older, more-seasoned polling firms — and state polls — a number of which are done by less-established firms. The national polls have this a tie. The state polls, as you just suggested — the battleground state polls suggest and indicate that President Obama is ahead in all of them." "It seems striking that there would be this difference," he added. "And it is sobering, if you're a Romney supporter, to think that he is trailing or just tied in so many of those states." "I think it's unlikely — it's hard to imagine as a political journalist that all these many polls are off. But the discrepancy is unmistakable and puzzling."

It's really NOT puzzling if you have a grasp of popular votes versus electoral votes.