Electoral College pictures
Republican nominee Mitt Romney's hopes for a victory in the Electoral College are predicated on a rather unprecedented assumption: Almost all state polls have to be biased or systematically wrong in favor of President Barack Obama.
This has been the problem for Romney all along. Even when he surged into a national polling lead over Obama following the first presidential debate, the fundamental question was whether he would be able to take enough states from the president to win the Electoral College.
With just hours to go until the polls open, Romney's electoral task looks especially daunting.
Here's where the candidates stand in battleground states in the final day of campaigning, according to Real Clear Politics averages and a new New York Times' feature that outlines the 512 paths to victory for both candidates:
- Ohio: Obama is leading here by an average of 3 points — which, coincidentally, is better than his standing at this point in the 2008 race against John McCain, when he led by an average of only 2.5 points. According to The NYT, if Romney loses Ohio, he would have only 11 plausible paths to victory. In 40 polls conducted in Ohio last month, Romney led in only 4 of them. Romney hasn't exactly helped himself in an auto industry-centric state by suggesting, falsely, that Chrysler is moving U.S. jobs to China.
- Florida: This is the most crucial must-win state for Romney, as he would have to win the rest of the eight battleground states to come back from a Florida loss. Right now, Romney is up by an average of 1.8 points in state polling. Romney performs better than average with seniors in the state, and cuts into Obama's normally huge Latino vote margins because of a disproportionate Cuban-American electorate that tends to be more Republican. Romney has won 19 of the 29 Florida polls conducted in October — Obama has won only eight.
- Virginia: A Romney loss in Virginia would also be a daunting precursor for other swing states. His standing here mirrors his slim deficit in the overall national average — he's behind by 0.3 points, on average. Without Virginia, Romney has 18 ways to win — or 7 percent of possible paths to 270 electoral votes. It can't get much closer here — of the polls conducted in October, Romney leads 10, Obama leads nine and two are tied.
- Colorado: Another extremely close state, Obama is up an average of 0.6 percent here. Losing Colorado leaves Romney with only 9.8 percent of available paths. Key to winning here is scoring among the state's large Independent segment of voters. In a recent Public Policy Polling survey, Obama led that group by an astounding 25 points.
- Wisconsin: The Badger State is looking more and more like it will stay blue, as the Real Clear Politics average puts Obama up more than 4 points here, on average. Wisconsin is important because it keeps one of the so-called "firewall" states on Obama's side. More on why I think Obama will win Wisconsin here.
- Nevada: Obama leads by an average of nearly 3 points here — even though it's technically closer than Ohio or Wisconsin. A Romney loss in Nevada would take away all but 30 plausible paths to victory.
- Iowa: A particularly devastating poll here is the latest solemn news for the Romney campaign in this state. Obama leads by an average of 3 points in the Hawkeye State. A loss in Iowa cuts out all but 12 percent of paths to victory.
- New Hampshire: Obama is winning here by an average of 2 points. A loss for Romney eliminates all but 12 percent of paths, as well. There have been 20 polls conducted in New Hampshire in October — Obama wins 12, Romney wins four and the other four are tied.
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When does the electoral college vote in the 2012 election?
The Electoral College is the institution that officially elects the President and Vice President of the United States every four years. They vote during the same hours the the popular vote is held.