Does the 2012 electoral math work in Mitt Romney's favor? That depends on how you look at it. Here's a break-down of what he'll have to do to capture the 270 electoral votes needed to secure the presidency:
Regardless what anyone tells you, there are really just two states that are truly toss ups at this point -- Ohio and Iowa. Three other states remain in the leans category -- New Hampshire, Nevada, and Wisconsin, with New Hampshire leaning Romney and the other two leaning Obama. Mitt Romney is going to get Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, and Colorado, no matter what anyone tells you. The trending in those states have very clearly been in Romney's favor for a while now, and he's leading in all of those states. So that leaves him with 257 electoral votes in his pocket. He needs just 13 more.
It's really all about Ohio. Whoever wins Ohio is most likely going to be the next president. According to the latest poll from Rasmussen Reports, Obama and Romney are tied at 48-48%. Keep in mind that some people have already voted (1 out of 3 voters by some estimates). Also keep in mind that Rasmussen Reports had Mitt Romney losing Ohio by just 1% for about a month straight. Even with the momentum in Romney's favor, this state is definitely a toss up. It could go either way.
If Romney loses Ohio, he has a couple of other possible outcomes. Here's some state victory combinations that could still give him the presidency:
1. IA, NV, NH (273 votes)
2. IA, WI (273 votes)
3. WI, NV (273 votes)
4. WI, NH (271 votes)
The most plausible combination would be #1. This is because New Hampshire already leans Romney, Iowa is a dead even and has been trending in Romney's direction, and Nevada is a bit more likely than Wisconsin. The state of Wisconsin has gone blue everytime for the last 6 presidential elections. Nevada isn't likely to go red either, although it doesn't have the 6-time streak that Wisconsin does.
Both Nevada and Wisconsin will be difficult for Romney to grab as Obama has 50% in both of them. This means Romney would not only have to sway undecided voters, but would also have to take away some from Obama between now and election day. Still, these states are anything but impossible for Romney to win considering how close he is and considering how much he was able to cut into President Obama's lead over the past few months.
Based on all of this information, we can estimate the margin of victory/loss being between 261 and 285. That would make this election closer than the 2004 presidential election. This will be a very close election, and both men have about a 50/50 shot at winning.
Just for fun, there's a tie scenario to consider. Although it has never happened in American history, it is not out of the realm of possibility. For a 269-269 tie, Governor Romney would have to lose Ohio, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin. That would leave Iowa and Nevada in his column. With each standing at 6 electoral votes, adding 257 and 12 would make 269. Whenever no candidate secures more than 50% of the votes, the House of Representatives selects the next president, and the Senate selects the next vice president. Congress had to decide only one other time in history -- the United States presidential election of 1824.
Anyhow, there you have it. Be sure to reference this blog entry for others to see. A lot of people have misconceptions that one candidate or the other could win by a land-slide. Trust me, it's not going to happen. Not at this point in the race. So go out and vote, regardless who you favor!