Presidential Polls 2012: Why Virginia and Colorado Could Tip the Electoral College Map

If Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney ends up snatching the election from President Obama, the October 3 debate from Denver will go down in history as the event that changed history forever. 

It was there where the former governor of Massachusetts became what CNN's Republican strategist Alex Castellanos calls "an acceptable Republican," and others -- including people from the Romney campaign -- call a "plausible alternative."

However, though Romney has closed the gap in swing states -- and even leaped ahead of the president in several nationwide surveys -- the math is still steeper for the governor than it is for the president. 

That's why all eyes are in Ohio, which many predict will be deal breaker in this tight contest. And, though, a recent Time magazine poll shows Obama leading his challenger by 5 points in the Buckeye State, the Romney camp is challenging the results by pointing to a supposed oversampling of Democrats (a charge mirrored by both parties during different stages of the race).

However, the key to break the tie between Obama and Romney in the Electoral College might not be the Buckeye State after all but Virginia and Colorado, or any of the other closely contested swing states, where the president has enjoyed comfortable pre-debate leads and now finds himself at striking distance of his challenger. 

A Fox News survey, for instance, shows Romney ahead of Obama by 2 percentage points (47% to 45%. The same goes for an AP/GfK poll, and a Rasmussen poll, both of which give the former governor of Massachusetts a lead that is within the margin of error. PPP on the other hand shows Obama in the lead by 5 percentage points (51% to 46%).

When it comes to Colorado, PPP shows Obama ahead of Romney by 4 points, 51% to 47%, while a Keating poll shows the president also in the lead albeit by a smaller margin of 3 points (48% to 45%). A Democratic-leaning Grove poll shows the president also ahead of Romney in Colorado with 46% of supporters saying they are with Obama versus 43% expressing their preference for Romney.      

So for all of the Ohio excitement, both campaigns would be wise not to neglect the other swing states as they might hold the key to their respective paths to the White House.