As we in D.C. pile into bars on Wednesday to witness the spectacle that is presidential debating, swing state constituents from Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Pennsylvania will be in the candidate’s crosshairs as both bend over backwards to tailor their message at undecided voters in these critical battleground states.
President Barack Obama has made substantial gains in the past few weeks giving him an edge in important swing states. Former Governor Mitt Romney desperately needs to win at least two, possibly even three, of the states mentioned. Romney finds himself in a less than favorable position leading up to the first debate. Polls have been slipping away from Romney in these critical and highly sought after states where he finds himself, on average, polling well below his very own controversial "47%" figure.
At this point in the campaign, POLITCO has Obama owning 95 electoral votes in these previously highly contested swing states. In comparison, Romney occupies a paltry 15. These polls and projections may have an air of triviality due to the relatively fickle nature of the small, yet important, undecided voter group, but presumptiveness aside, Obama has seen a major bump as of late. Obama currently leads polls in Ohio, Virginia, Florida, Nevada, Iowa, and Colorado. Most have ceded that if the election were held tomorrow Obama would have a lock on 237 electoral votes and Romney would have something close to 206. Of course this does not definitively project an Obama victory, but the trend of the campaign remains in the president’s favor. Real Clear Politics has held Obama in a lead averaging 3.8 points over Romney throughout the entire 2012 campaign. Obama has nearly five weeks to run a smooth campaign — he must avoid gaffes both on and off the debate stage, and should focus his attention on single states where he can bolster his numbers and more easily obtain the 370 electoral votes that he has labored for this entire campaign cycle.
This campaign will be fought and won in the coming weeks on two stages. One will be on the debate stage and the other will be in the trenches of the now infamous "swing state." Virginia holds 13 electoral votes and generally votes conservative. Prior to Obama’s victory in 2008 the state had not voted for a Democratic president since 1964 when it voted in favor of Lyndon B. Johnson. Virginia remains somewhat promising for the Romney campaign. Wisconsin does as well, mainly due to Paul Ryan’s popularity and inclusion onto the Romney ticket. Nevada also can swing back in Romney’s favor due to the severe economic problems within the state as well as the state’s general tendency toward libertarian values. These characteristics come into play in Colorado as well. One of Romney’s most difficult demographics, which could severely hurt him come the election, is with Hispanic voters. Hispanics do not favor Romney in any state other than Florida, which has a 40% favorable view of Romney.
These polls do not put a nail in the coffin of Romney’s presidential bid, although they tend to leave the feeling that the hole has been dug. Romney will have to tread carefully in the coming weeks as he is likely to become more desperate and forced to turn to more offensive tactics. Once the candidates have walked the figurative knife’s edge in the upcoming debates it will be much easier to predict the final outcome on Election Day.