With the Republican primary winding down, and the general election about to heat up, it's time for an initial look at delegate math. What states will go blue? Which red? Which are purple, and how will they swing?
Recall December, when Obama campaign manager Jim Messina revealed Team O's "Five Paths to Victory." The campaign first assumed that they would win all the states John Kerry took in 2004, and then hit the necessary 270 electoral votes to win one of five ways: 1. Win Florida; 2. Win Ohio; 3. Win North Carolina and Virginia; 4. Win Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Iowa and 5. Win Arizona.
So where do those states stand? As of right now, all are in play, though Arizona is more likely to go to Romeny. Obama seems guaranteed 186 EVs, while Romney will almost certainly take 156.
-UP FOR GRABS (104 electoral votes): Colorado (9), Florida (29), Iowa (6), New Hampshire (3), New Mexico (5), Nevada (6), North Carolina (15), Ohio (18), Virginia (13)
-LEAN D (56 EVs): Michigan (16), Minnesota (10), Pennsylvania (20), Wisconsin (10)
-SOLID D (186 EVs): California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington.
-LEAN R (32 EVs): Arizona (11), Indiana (11), Missouri (10)
-SOLID R (156 EVs): Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming
So far, Team O seems to be throwing their weight toward Florida, although the president has made several recent stump speeches in states like Ohio and Nevada, as well. According to Townhall's Polltracker, Obama has a 7-point lead in this most crucial of swing states, but the GOP isn't giving up hope.
In Florida, unemployment tops 9 percent, tourism is slow to recover, gas prices are high and trouble persists in the housing market; all that works against Obama.
But his team is aggressively organizing in the state, and his visit Friday was his 16th since taking office, more than almost any other swing state.
Romney's battle with Rick Santorum for the GOP nomination slowed his preparations for the fall showdown in Florida. If Romney were to win the state's 29 electoral votes, it would block Obama's clearest path to 270, said Rick Wiley, political director for the Republican National Committee.
"Deny him Florida and his map alters significantly," Wiley said.
Even without Florida, however, the Romney campaign is confident in their ability to flip a few states red this time around, most specifically Virginia and North Carolina. Obama chose the latter as the site for the Democratic National Convention, but that doesn't necessarily mean he'll win it again (despite the fact that they're known for wearing Carolina Blue...sorry, Duke fans).
One of the most contentious factors in this election is the Hispanic vote. This demographic has the power to impact the final vote count tremendously.
Hispanic voters helped Obama win last time in Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, and, according to polls, they prefer him over Romney. Romney described GOP primary rivals Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich as soft on illegal immigration, and has said he would veto legislation that would allow certain illegal residents to become U.S. citizens.
But Romney expects to be competitive in all three states. For one, Nevada has a popular Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, who endorsed Romney on Wednesday. Also, unemployment tops 12 percent in Nevada, the heart of the housing crisis.
New Mexico has gone back and forth for the past three presidential cycles, and elected a Republican governor in 2010. But the boom in the Hispanic voting population is a challenge for Romney.
"Those Western states are going to depend on the Hispanic turnout and the percentage we get," said Charlie Black, a veteran Republican presidential consultant. "And if we voted today, we wouldn't do well. But we've got plenty of time to work on it."
It seems that the election may hinge on turnout. In 2008, record numbers from typically quiet demographics -- especially the youth -- voted in droves for Obama. If he can inspire the same response, this time from Hispanics, he very well could secure his reelection. Of course, there's still time -- as Black said -- but Team Romney has their work cut out for them.
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