What to watch for Tuesday night

Does it all come down to Ohio, again? Or are the keys Wisconsin, Iowa and Colorado?Does it all come down to Ohio, again? Or are the keys Wisconsin, Iowa and Colorado?

From Staff ReportsNovember 4, 2012 

  • It will be a good night for Democrats ... • If President Obama can eke out a win in Florida or Virginia, where GOP nominee Romney leads narrowly, according to most polls. Possible. • If Obama can win North Carolina – where Romney leads – the night will be early for Democrats. A Tar Heel win probably would come with a win in either Florida or Virginia, too. Unlikely. • If Obama takes all three – as he did in 2008 – Democrats will be able to get some sleep after they party, celebrating wins in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Forget it. Romney will be on road to victory ... • If the former Massachusetts governor can take Florida, North Carolina and Virginia. Possible. • If he can win either Pennsylvania or Michigan, a GOP rout could be under way. Unlikely. • If he can take Ohio, his key to the White House. Possible but ... It will be midday Wednesday or later – shades of 2000 ... • If Romney takes Ohio. Obama still can win, but he then must run the table in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado and Nevada. Possible but ...
  • Obama-Biden Solid or likely states: 200 electoral votes California -- 55 Connecticut -- 7 Delaware -- 3 District of Columbia -- 3 Hawaii -- 4 Illinois -- 20 Maine -- 3 Maryland -- 10 Massachusetts -- 11 Minnesota -- 10 New Jersey -- 14 New Mexico -- 5 New York -- 29 Oregon -- 7 Rhode Island -- 4 Vermont -- 3 Washington -- 12 Leans Obama-Biden: 37 electoral votes Maine (2nd Congressional District) -- 1 (state divides its electoral votes by congressional district) Michigan -- 16, Obama by 3 percentage points Pennsylvania -- 20, Obama by 4.6 percentage points Obama-Biden subtotal (solid, likely and leans): 237
  • Tossup states 95 electoral votes Colorado -- 9, Obama by 0.9 percentage points Traditionally Republican. But trending Democratic, in part due to Hispanics. Site of the 2008 Democratic convention, when Obama took the state. Romney led in polls earlier in October. Florida -- 29, Romney by 1.2 percentage points Site of the 2012 GOP convention. Obama took the state in 2008 and led in early polls. Romney lead is shrinking. A key? How is debate over federal entitlements -- Social Security and Medicare -- playing out? Iowa -- 6, Obama by 2 percentage points Birthplace of Obama’s 2008 run to the Democratic nomination, when he also won the state in the 2008 general election. This time, however, newspapers have lined up behind Romney. Does it matter? Nevada -- 6, Obama by 2.7 percentage points Can U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and unions deliver the state to Obama? State is heavily Mormon. New Hampshire -- 4, Obama by 2 percentage points Home to contrarians and Mitt Romney’s vacation retreat. Obama led in polls. Then, Romney, who is counting on “favorite-son status.” Now, Obama again. Ohio -- 18, Obama by 2.3 percentage points The auto industry bailout debate has been about this heavily unionized state (and Michigan). Obama has led consistently in polls. But his lead is shrinking. Virginia -- 13, Romney by 0.5 percentage points Northern part of state is dependent on federal spending. Obama led in polls until first debate. Then, Romney took lead, but his margin is shrinking. Wisconsin -- 10, Obama by 5 percentage points Home of GOP VP candidate Paul Ryan probably should be on “leans Obama” list. Last week’s “Minnesota-is-in-play” stories really were about campaigns buying Twin Cities media, seen in western part of Wisconsin.
  • Romney-Ryan Solid or likely: 180 electoral votes Alabama -- 9 Alaska -- 3 Arkansas -- 6 Georgia -- 16 Idaho -- 4 Indiana -- 11 Kansas -- 6 Kentucky -- 8 Louisiana -- 8 Mississippi -- 6 Missouri -- 10 Montana -- 3 Nebraska -- 5 North Dakota -- 3 Oklahoma -- 7 South Carolina -- 9 South Dakota -- 3 Tennessee -- 11 Texas -- 38 Utah -- 6 West Virginia -- 5 Wyoming -- 3 Leans Romney: 26 North Carolina -- 15, Romney by 3.8 percentage points Arizona -- 11, Romney by 5.3 percentage points Romney-Ryan subtotal (solid, likely and leans): 206 SOURCES: The New York Times, Politico, Rasmussen Reports, Real Clear Politics, University of Virginia Center for Politics

The November presidential election was shaping up to be a yawner six weeks ago. President Barack Obama would rake in more than 300 electoral votes – easily surpassing the 270 needed to win, according to most projections.

Then, came Denver. In the first presidential debate, Democrat Obama didn’t look like he really wanted the job for four more years, and Republican nominee Mitt Romney looked – well – presidential. The terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, followed with the death of four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador.

Suddenly, the electoral map that decides the presidency – not the popular vote – started to look a lot more competitive.

Polls showed Romney taking the lead in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and New Hampshire, four states that Obama took in 2008 when American voters had more hope of change.

Last week, however, as Hurricane Sandy swept ashore, Obama quit the campaign trail to return to the White House and oversee recovery efforts. Meanwhile, Romney converted his campaign rallies to relief efforts. And polling indicated another change.

While Romney still led in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia – three states he needs to carry to win the presidency – his leads were shrinking.

The race remains razor close, meaning, just as in 2004, the election again may come down to Ohio. That year, President George W. Bush took the state and narrowly won re-election, a victory not conceded until the next day.

No Republican ever has been elected president without winning Ohio, a fact not lost on Romney.

As his campaign schedule over the last two weeks suggests, the state is absolutely vital to the former Massachusetts governor, barring an upset win elsewhere – Pennsylvania or Michigan.

Even without Ohio, where Obama is leading narrowly according to most recent polls, the Democratic incumbent has an electoral path to victory. But it will be tough, having to Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire and Wisconsin, home to the GOP’s vice presidential nominee, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan.

And some polls show Romney narrowly leading in Colorado.

A prediction?

It will be the wee hours of Wednesday morning before the winner is known, possibly even midday.

Of course, it could be worse.

In 2000, the winner wasn’t know until mid-December.

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