The latest poll numbers indicate that the momentum Mr. Romney built up after the first Presidential Debate has been continuing, albeit at a slower pace. The latest Rasmussen Poll released today shows Mr. Romney ahead 50% – 47% nationwide among likely voters. Even more telling is an AP Poll showing that Mr. Romney has completely wiped out the 16 point deficit among women voters that he had in September.
These poll results are consistent with and, perhaps, explain the respective strategies of the candidates at the most recent debate. Mr. Romney, sensing he had the momentum and was gaining even more ground, was more conservative and passive. Mr. Obama, believed he needed to be more aggressive, to go on the offensive to try to blunt or, even better, reverse Mr. Romney’s momentum. It now appears that even though Mr. Obama “won” the debate, he failed to blunt Mr. Romney’s momentum. I believe there are many reasons for this, but the major one is that most voters are focused squarely on the economy and jobs rather than foreign policy or other domestic issues.
In addition to the foregoing, the latest polls, released today, report gains for Mr. Romney in various individual states, which is obviously more significant. CNN reports that Michigan, where Mr. Obama once enjoyed a comfortable lead, is now a virtual deadheat. Today, CNN reclassified North Carolina, Indiana and Missouri from “leaning” to Mr. Romney to “safely” for Mr. Romney. Finally, Wisconsin, Mr. Ryan’s home state, is trending toward the Romney camp in large part due to Mr. Ryan’s influence. Mr. Obama used to have a comfortable lead there, but it is now considered to be a toss-up.
At the present time, CNN estimates that Mr. Obama has a slight Electoral College lead (safe or leaning states) over Mr. Romney: 237 – 206. 270 electoral votes are required to clinch the election. There are eight toss-up states with a total of 96 electoral votes. These are Colorado (9), Florida (29), Iowa (7), Nevada (6), New Hampshire (4), Ohio (18), Virginia (13), and Wiscinsin (10). Both candidates have alternative pathways to 270 utilizing various combinations of these states. Mr. Obama has more flexibility since he presently has more electoral votes projected to be in his column.
All in all, this election is shaping up to be a real “nail-biter,” one of the most interesting and significant of our lifetimes. We may not know the final result until the day after Election Day, or, if there are legal challanges in closely contested states, for several weeks. Remember the “hanging chads” from Florida in 2000?