The media has been pushing an indelible narrative concerning the electoral math of the political map. They’ve asserted that Romney cannot win the election without Ohio. However, the reality is that Obama is the one who cannot win without Ohio.
To be clear, in all likelihood, the one who wins Ohio’s 18 electoral votes will win the election. Ohio is probably the state that is most directly in the center of the 538 electoral map, traversing the magical 270 mark. However, to the extent that one candidate can win without Ohio, it is more likely to be Mitt Romney, thanks in large part to his surge in some of the eastern battleground states.
Unless the trajectory of the race changes, Romney is on his way to winning Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia. Once we allow for that assumption, it is absolutely impossible for Obama to win without Ohio. Take a look at Obama’s map below:
As you can see, we give Romney FL, NC, and VA, and we place Ohio on the side. In such a scenario, even if Obama completely runs the table on every outstanding battleground state except for New Hampshire – NV, CO, IA, WIS – he comes up at 268, just short of a majority. Only the 4 electoral votes from NH along with everything else will get him over the top. Remember that Colorado and Iowa have been trending towards Romney, especially as the voter registration numbers favor Republicans this cycle. Recent polls have shown Romney ahead or tied in New Hampshire; tied or just behind in Nevada, and a few points behind in Wisconsin. With the current dynamic of the race, it’s highly improbable that he would run the table in those states. Even if he does, it’s still game over without Ohio.
Now let’s take a look at Romney’s map without Ohio:
As you can see, Romney starts out with 248 votes. He has a number of viable options to win 270 votes without Ohio. The first state that I would place in his column of the remaining states is Colorado. That bumps him up to 257. From that point he can win with any of the following scenarios: Iowa (6) plus Nevada (6); Wisconsin (10) + Nevada (6); Wisconsin (10) + Iowa(6); Wisconsin (10) + New Hampshire (4). The Iowa plus Nevada scenario would result in a 269-269 tie, which would be broken by the Republican-controlled House.
Ultimately, the single most important state is still Ohio. But don’t let the media fool you. Obama is the one who cannot win without Ohio, while Romney has several viable options without it.
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