Recent polls from Real Clear Politics show that the presidential race is still very close. In five new national daily tracking polls, Barack Obama is leading in one poll whereas Romney edges the president in two of them. But they are both tied in two other polls. The race, however, will not be decided nationally. The election will be contested at the state level. In fact, there are nine states that would be decisive in the battle for the presidency. Despite the tight national race, Obama continues to maintain an edge in Wisconsin, Iowa and more importantly Ohio. Winning those states will put Obama in a strong position to reach the 270 electoral votes that he will need to retain the presidency.
Before the first debate, Obama was leading both nationally and in most of the swing states. But Romney used the first debate to pass himself off as a moderate by disavowing many of his positions that are less popular with the public. This on-the-spot metamorphosis has allowed him to reboot his campaign, which was heretofore flailing. Following the first debate, the race has been either virtually tight nationally or one of the candidates has a razor-thin lead. Therefore, his first debate performance has given Romney a big boost.
Romney’s momentum might be stalled by the strong performance that Obama had in the second debate. Despite Romney’s surge in the polls, the president is still doing well in many battleground states in the Midwest. It has been evident that Romney is making inroads in some swing states. For instance, the Huffington Post tracking model indicates that Romney has a slim lead in Virginia, Florida, and North Carolina. The same tracking model, however, shows that Obama maintains an edge in the following battleground states: Iowa, Wisconsin, Nevada, Ohio, New Hampshire, and Colorado. A win in these states will give the president 277 electoral votes, which is seven more votes than he needs to remain in office.
The election will likely be close until the very end. The president’s performance in the second debate appeared to have stopped Romney’s momentum. Another good showing during the third debate could shift back the momentum toward the president. As the election enters the final stretch, Obama has been able to maintain his edge in many swing states that are crucial, particularly Ohio. Without the Buckeye State, Romney has a much more difficult path to 270. Therefore, Obama would have an easier path to 270 electoral votes if he manages to sustain his lead in Wisconsin, Iowa and the critical state of Ohio.