Can Romney Beat Obama, Part II

Almost 5 months ago, I wrote an article asking whether Mitt Romney could beat President Obama in November. I wondered if states like Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio, Virginia, and Florida could be convinced to change their allegiance after voting for Obama in 2008. At the time, I was less than enthusiastic about Romney’s chances. Ohio seemed out of reach, Iowa was barely a battleground, and Wisconsin was firmly in Democratic control. However, over the past couple of months, the race has become noticeably tighter, and Obama’s lead has all but vanished. With less than 3 months until election day, I have a feeling that Mitt Romney may end up pulling ahead.

As it stands, I see 8 “toss-up” states. Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin are, at this point, very close races. As of now, I don’t see Colorado voting Republican. Obama won by 9% in 2008 and I don’t think Romney will be able to garner enough support to claim the state’s 9 electoral votes. Conversely, I think Romney has a pretty good shot at taking North Carolina, especially after President Obama’s very public condemnation of the state’s opposition to gay marriage. Obama won North Carolina by a slim 0.3% margin in 2008, due largely to unprecedented (and, I believe, unsustainable) African-American turnout. Having consistently led in the polls, I’m confident in saying that Romney will win North Carolina in November.

After Colorado and North Carolina, though, the race gets much more unpredictable. I’ll start with Michigan. At the present moment, I don’t see the state going red. Although I find solace in the fact that Romney is Michigan-born, I can’t deny that Obama carried the state by 16.4% in 2008. Even though the polls show the President’s lead diminishing, I fear that the state is still out of reach.

I do not, however, believe that Iowa and Wisconsin are out of reach. Wisconsin in particular holds a lot of promise for the Republicans, who hope that the re-election of Scott Walker and the selection of Paul Ryan have energized the state’s conservative population. On average, Obama leads Romney by 1.4% in the state, a gap that’s been shrinking ever since Ryan joined the ticket. Though I’m not yet convinced that Wisconsin will turn red, it’s certainly a possibility.

Along with Wisconsin, Iowa’s another Midwestern state that, though small, could be critical to a Romney victory. If the race goes the way I think it will go, Iowa’s 6 electoral votes could prove to be the difference. With Obama leading by a mere 1% in the polls, Romney has a real shot at turning the state red.

After Colorado, North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa, 3 extremely important states remain: Florida, Virginia, and Ohio. These states, without a doubt, will decide who’s inaugurated on January 21, 2013. Of these 3, only one sticks out as “leaning Romney”, if only by the slimmest of margins: Florida. This year especially, the senior vote will play a huge role in deciding who wins the state’s 29 electoral votes. Romney continues to lead Obama among Florida’s seniors (by a whopping 13% in the latest CBS/NYT poll), and if he can carry that advantage into November, I believe he’ll win.

Virginia and Ohio, however, are even closer (if that’s possible). In both states, Obama leads by 2%, well within the margin of error. On top of that, both Virginia and Ohio voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004. At this point, though, I really can’t call either race. If I had to, I’d say that both states stay in Obama’s column. However, as I said, it’s just too close right now for me to make a suitably informed prediction.

So where does this leave us? In order to win, Mitt Romney must claim North Carolina and Florida. Without both of these states, victory is impossible. In addition, he must win a combination of Wisconsin or Iowa, Ohio or Michigan, and Virginia. To conclude, I see this as Romney’s best path to victory: out of the 8 toss-up states, he must win North Carolina, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, and Virginia. If he does that, he can afford to lose Michigan, Wisconsin, and Colorado. That, of course, is a very tall order, as Romney’s currently trailing in most of those states. Nevertheless, the race has tightened considerably in the past couple of months, and if the current trend continues, Mitt Romney may well become the 45th President of the United States.