Expect a flurry of campaign activity in nine battleground states until Election Day: The latest polls show President Barack Obama closer to clinching the presidential race, unless the GOP can stem the tide in a handful of swing states.
While national polls might show a tight race for the total popular vote total, surveys in swing states show a growing gap between President Obama and Mitt Romney.
Key states such as Ohio and Florida have been bombarded for months with TV ads and candidate appearances. Recent polls show two other states have moved back toward the Obama column, and a third is likely to follow soon.
The results put Obama at 260 projected electoral votes, with 270 needed to win. Challenger Mitt Romney has a projected 191 electoral votes.
For our consensus poll analysis, we refer to the web site Real Clear Politics, which tracks campaign polls locally and nationally.
The significance of the events weren’t lost ABC journalist George Stephanopoulos, who appeared on Piers Morgan’s CNN talk show last night.
When asked upfront by Morgan about the race, Stephanopoulos said the big development was the constant importance of the swing state campaigns.
As any student could tell you on this Constitution Week, it’s all about the Electoral College when it comes to presidential races. So while national polls may be for “show,” the Electoral College race is for “the dough.”
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Even though the difference between Obama and Romney is “too close to call” in the popular vote, the projected Electoral College race isn’t nearly as close, when it comes to consensus polls.
For example, the most recent Gallup poll puts the general election in a deadlock, with each candidate tied—ironically—at 47 percent.
Other national polls show Obama with a slight lead, with an average lead of 3.1 percent.
The Real Clear Politics consensus of polls in swing states shows a much different picture.
In percentage terms, Obama has 46 percent of the projected electoral vote total of 538 votes, compared with 35.5 percent for Romney. That is a difference of 11.5 percent in electoral votes, versus 3 percent in the current consensus poll of national votes from Real Clear Politics.
In the past two weeks, Michigan and then Wisconsin moved back into the list of states leaning to Obama, based on polling data.
That puts Obama’s total at 247 projected electoral votes. Virginia, with its 13 electoral votes, seems like the next state to move toward the Obama column, unless the GOP can stem the tide.
At 260 electoral votes, the Democrats would only need to take one or two of the remaining seven swing states to win the presidency.
To be sure, a lot can change between now and Election Day, and polls have margins of error. Also, internal polls conducted by candidates can differ greatly from public polls.
Still, the math shows that the Romney and Obama campaigns will be investing heavily in Wisconsin and Virginia.
Northern Virginia has seen record levels of TV ad spending via commercials in the Washington, D.C. market, and southern Virginia has a third-party spoiler candidate, Virgil Goode, who could take votes away from Romney.
The GOP has two high-profile faces in Wisconsin—Paul Ryan and Scott Walker—but it is losing ground in polls there.
The consensus polling data from the past week in Wisconsin shows a growing Obama lead of 7 percent in the state.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that internal campaign polls showed the Wisconsin race as being closer and within the margin of error. But the Republican senate candidate in the Badger state was blunt about his own prospects.
“You know, whether you're a Democrat or Republican, if your standard-bearer for the presidency is not doing well, it's going to reflect on the down ballot,” said former Governor Tommy Thompson.
Among the seven remaining battleground states, Romney has the biggest current polling deficit in Ohio. But even if the GOP can rally to take Ohio, President Obama can win the national election and still lose Ohio and Florida, if he keeps Wisconsin and Virginia in his win column.
There were reports late this week that Romney would focus more on personal appearances in swing states. He received some criticism for appearing in events this past week in four non-swing states: California, Utah, Georgia and Texas.
Romney and running mate Paul Ryan have scheduled a three-day bus tour of Ohio next week among its swing state events.
Scott Bomboy is the Editor-in-Chief of the National Constitution Center.
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