Electoral College Map: Romney Must Win Pennsylvania to Win the White House

Things are not looking too great for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. This is because the Romney/Ryan ticket’s easiest path to the White House runs through Florida, North Carolina and … Pennsylvania? Yes. Pennsylvania.

As the momentum that Romney had after the first debate wanes, his campaign has tried to make a final, perhaps desperate, push for Pennsylvania’s 20 Electoral College votes. This is a significant indicator that Romney is pulling out all the stops to defeat President Barack Obama, even those that seem improbable.

According to Real Clear Politics, the last time that Pennsylvania awarded its Electoral College votes to a Republican was in 1988, when it did so to former President George H. W. Bush. He won by slightly over 3 percentage points against Democrat Michael Dukakis.

In recent weeks, Romney has only pulled ahead in two of the battleground states: Florida and North Carolina. Obama hangs on to a lead in the remaining battleground states, no matter how slim, including Ohio. And this is Romney’s major problem.

Even if Romney were to win North Carolina and Florida, which seems extremely probable, and battle back to win all the states where Obama has less than a 2 percentage point lead, he would still be nine votes shy of the White House. 

It is slightly mind-boggling that Obama could lose Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, and New Hampshire, and still win the election 277­ to 261. This is the power of the Electoral College.

Mitt Romney knows this. Thus, enter Pennsylvania from stage left.

Romney has added campaign stops in both Ohio and Pennsylvania on Election Day, and, in addition to increasing spending in Pennsylvania, Romney is hoping to take advantage of advertisements that although geared toward Ohio, spill over into some Pennsylvania markets such as Pittsburgh.

If this works, and Obama’s lead in Pennsylvania is erased, Romney’s route to the White House is not so dreary. Romney could win the presidency by taking North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Virginia and Colorado. The latter two, of which are virtually tied as Obama only has less than a one-percentage point lead in both. If this scenario plays out, Romney would win the Electoral College 277 to 261.

Of course, Democrats don’t think this will work as they hold a death grip onto New York Times’ Nate Silver’s predictions in his FiveThirtyEight blog, which gives Obama a 98% chance of winning Pennsylvania. To them, Romney's path to White House begins and ends with Ohio.

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Whitney Waters

Whitney Waters graduated from the University of Kentucky College of Law in May 2012, and is a member of the Kentucky Bar. She has a B.S. in Agricultural Biotechnology and a B.S. in Journalism. Her areas of interest include intellectual property, foreign, environmental, and social policy. She is currently a Intellectual Property Masters of Law candidate at The George Washington University and Presidential Management Fellow.

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