Obama inches closer to election win
on 30/09/2012 18:21:15
To overtake Obama, Republican Mitt Romney would need to quickly gain the upper hand in nearly all of the nine states where he and Obama are in closest competition.
Polls show the president with a steady lead in many of those states, as Romney looks to shift the dynamics of the race, starting with their first debate on Wednesday in Denver.
"We'd rather be us than them," says Jennifer Psaki, an Obama spokeswoman.
But Romney's running mate Paul Ryan says there's time for the Republican ticket to win. "In these kinds of races people focus near the end, and that's what's happening now," he told Fox News Sunday.
If the election were held today, an Associated Press analysis shows Obama would win at least 271 electoral votes, with likely victories in crucial Ohio and Iowa along with 19 other states and the District of Columbia. Romney would win 23 states for a total of 206.
To remove the Democratic incumbent, Romney would need to take up-for-grabs Florida, Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina, New Hampshire and Virginia, which would put him at 267 votes, and upend Obama in either Ohio or Iowa.
US presidents are elected not by national popular vote but in state-by-state contests. Each state gets one electoral vote for each of its representatives in the House and Senate. There are 538 votes in the Electoral College, and a candidate must have at least 270 to win. Except for Maine and Nebraska, states award all their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the state.
In the final weeks before the November 6 vote, Obama is enjoying a burst of momentum and has benefited from growing optimism about the economy as well as a series of Romney stumbles. Most notably, a secret video surfaced recently showing the Republican nominee telling a group of wealthy donors that 47% of Americans pay no federal income taxes and consider themselves victims dependent on the government.
Obama started the campaign with a slew of electoral vote-rich coastal states like New York and California already in his win column. From the outset, Romney faced fewer paths to cobbling together the state-by-state victories needed to reach the magic number.
It has grown even narrower in recent weeks, as Romney has seen his standing slip in polls in Ohio, with 18 electoral votes, and Iowa, with six. That forced him to abandon plans to try to challenge Obama on traditionally Democratic turf so he could redouble his efforts in Ohio and Iowa, as well as Colorado, Florida, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Nevada and Virginia.
Romney is hoping that come Election Day, on-the-fence voters tip his way. But there are hurdles there, too.
Early voting is under way in dozens of states, and national and key state surveys show undecided voters feel more favourably toward Obama than Romney.
The Republican is in a tight battle with Obama in Florida, as well as in Colorado, North Carolina and Nevada.
But Ohio's shifting landscape illustrates Romney's troubles over the past few weeks.
Republicans and Democrats agree that Obama's solid lead in public and private polling in the state is for real. Over the past month, the president has benefited from an improving economic situation in the state; its 7.2 % unemployment rate is below the 8.1 % national average. Obama's team also attributes his Ohio edge to the car industry bailout and General Motors plant expansions in eastern Ohio.
Obama and his campaign have hammered Romney on his tax policies, arguing that the former Massachusetts governor favours the rich while the president is a defender of everyone else.
Underscoring his challenges, Romney also has been forced to spend millions of dollars a week defending himself in North Carolina, a Republican-leaning state that's more conservative than most of the states that will decide the election.
All this has left Romney with an extraordinarily tight path and few options but to bear down in the states where he is competing aggressively. Time, though, is running out.