Blogging US Election Day, 2012 – Updated 6pm

Gordon Campbell and Alastair Thompson
November 7, 2012

Hi there and welcome to Scoop’s election day coverage, in which Al Thompson and I will be blogging the election results as they start to come in…which should begin around 12.45-1pm, judging by election day 2008. >> NOTE: HIT REFRESH TO GET THE LATEST UPDATE <<

Make of this what you will, but the Jerusalem Post is reporting that 68% of Jews voted for Obama. In wrapping up this coverage, what do we make of the Obama victory? As of tomorrow, Obama has to gear himself up for the fiscal cliff calamity that is now coming down the tracks, whereby on January 1st, the US faces some very grim options on federal revenues and tax hikes – in order to ward off a looming catastrophe that otherwise may push the US into recession again next year, even if Congress delays a final remedy. Good luck with getting bipartisan co-operation from a bruised Republicans in facing up to this problem, even if it is in very large part a creation of the Bush-era tax cuts.

In his second term, Obama now has to be made to deliver for the people on the centre-left who elected him in 2008 and again today. No one is expecting miracles from him any longer, but he faces a Republican opposition that has been badly bloodied by the Romney failure. History will be judging Obama by how he emerges from the mess that he inherited in his first term. He has a mandate now to lead, rather than to simply react to events at home amnd abroad that were largely not of his making. On foreign policy, the people who elected him – and that includes those 68 % of Jews who voted for Obama – will not for example be expecting him to go to war in Iran.

And where to for the Republicans? Let’s assume Mitt Romney did not actually mean the gibberish he espoused throughout the primary season, but said what he felt he had to say to the party zealots in order to gain the nomination and keep them on board. Clearly, what is seen to be needed to win the party nomination is then poison in the subsequent national election. In sum, the party’s recent spasms of extremism have been proven to be electorally self defeating. Thus, the Tea Party is finished, and will now go the way of Sarah Palin. In Chris Christie and Mario Rubio, the Republicans have moderate candidates who can win the Presidency in 2016. Hopefully, the party of Lincoln will be remade as a more moderate, less ideologically driven party than it has been in 2012, and 2008. Today, the US voted centre left, and rejected right wing extremism. That’s all good. Let’s hope that in 2014, New Zealand can find reason to do the same. Thanks everyone.

Thanks to Mark Cubey for alerting me to the jaw-dropping comeback win by Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin. She looked so far back I’d lost interest, but she has defeated welfare reform architect Tommy Thompson, in what Slate has called the second biggest story of the election. Sorry for putting you wrong before on Baldwin.

5. 15pm
Tim Kaine wins in Virginia for the Dems, and the likely final counts in outstanding counties in Virginia, Florida and yes, even in Ohio make it very likely that Obama could sweep them all. Which means that Politico’s 303 to 235 prediction yesterday may be on the conservative side, and we may be looking at a rout of McCain in 2008 proportions. Nice to see that the Republicans veep candidate Paul Ryan failed to carry his home state (Wisconsin) for Romney, and projections now have it for Obama, thanks to that Milwaukee count I mentioned before. New Mexico, Nevada (likely) for Obama…the Latino vote is going to have cost Romney big time when the Republicans look back sorrowfully at this night.

CNN has just called the election for the president! Yay. Now we can go back to bitching about Barack Obama.

4.35 pm
Forgive the skittishness before about Wisconsin. I’d forgotten Milwaukee, which is still to come in. Turnout is really high today in Milwaukee (around 73% says CNN) and though Romney is doing extremely well in some of the suburban/rural areas – as you might expect – I think CNN is right to say that it’s hard to envisage Obama losing this state. Ditto with Romney’s current lead in the popular vote. Populous California can be expected to go strongly for Obama, sufficient to erase that margin. So that’s all right then, as they say on the 2012 show.


Hold the champagne – Romney is ahead in both Wisconsin and Virginia, and is only narrowly behind in Ohio. It still looks okay for Obama, but it’s not a decisive victory at this point.

More bad news for the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party. From the Orlando Sentinel in Florida:

An unprecedented push by Florida Republicans to allow more state funding of religious programs, restrict abortion rights, ban the required purchase of health insurance and oust three Democrat-appointed [state] Supreme Court justices was headed for failure….Forced to wade through a historically long ballot with 11 legislatively drawn constitutional amendments, voters defeated an effort to give beefier property-tax breaks to new- and second-home owners and businesses.

Still, the TP may take some solace from the apparent victory in a Florida Congressional race of the flamboyant Tea Party favourite Allen West. After 91 % of the vote counted, West is narrowly ahead. Darn.

Oh, and Massachusetts just became the 18th state to legalise medicinal marijuana.

This looks like the end game. With Pennsylvania and now Wisconsin being projected for Obama – and New Hampshire as well! – most of the alternative routes to victory for Romney are now closing down, and making him totally dependent on a victory in Ohio that looks highly unlikely. Elizabeth Warren is being projected to take the Senate seat in Massachusetts, too. She’s the originator of a now famous video that enraged the Tea Party – wherein she made the innocuous argument that even the most self-made of entrepreneurs gets to drive down roads built by Big Government, and to hire workers educated by Big Government, so what’s the big deal about paying taxes? In response and in denial, the TP frothingly launched the We Built It! campaign. So yay for Warren. And for Claire McCaskill, who is crushing another one of God’s emissaries, Todd Akin.

CNN says Romney can’t win from here.

Obama takes Pennsylvania! One depressing result from Wisconsin though is that in the Senate race, the Dems’ Tammy Baldwin failed to get even close to defeating former governor Tommy Thompson. Back in the 1990s, Thompson was the godfather of the Wisconsin experiment in welfare reform that Paula Bennett is now in the process of implementing in New Zealand. In polls before, Baldwin had looked like she had a chance of being competitive. Fox is saying that the Republicans s look like retaining the House and the Dems the Senate – which means that Obama will have to negotiate his way back from the fiscal cliff, with House Speaker John Boehner. Meaning: same old, same old spirit of bitter non co-operation and gridlock, folks.

This really wasn’t expected, but there’s a reasonable chance that Virginia will prove the decisive result today. This is an absolutely crucial state for Romney to win, and most models projected that he had to win Chesterfield County by 25,000 or thereabouts,in order to win statewide. Yet with 97% of precincts reporting, Obama is down there by only 8,000, which throws the whole context into the suburban/urban region in the north – in areas like Fairfax – where Romney is going to have to win HUGE to take the state. If Virginia goes to Obama, it’s pretty much all over for Romney.

Update 3.35pm: The Exit Poll that roared out of the bat tonight the Exit Polls had this election for Obama. In France they quite often simply call the exit on the close of polls based on the exit poll – however following the experience of 2004 which showed the war hero John Kerry beating the AWOL George Bush Exit Polls have become a dirty word in US presidential politics.
However tonight the Exit Poll seems to have done a better job of predicting the outcome.

And if the Exit Poll is right then Obama has won. He will win most of the battleground states based on it, the electoral college, and consequently the election.

Tonight the preliminary vote count strongly supports this assertion also. Romney looks to have too much ground to make up to win in Florida with the huge Democratic Broward and Miami-Dade County only partially counted – and if Florida goes to Obama then Obama wins.

Florida is exciting with a very close vote count right at the moment – but that is likely to be shortlived.

Significantly Ohio – thought to be contestable in the polls – is leaning significantly towards Obama. Romney appears to be wining Virginia even though the Exit Poll showed it 49% to 49% but the suburbs of Washington DC is where the big population is and urban area typically report later.

At the time of writing Colorado is Obama 30k votes ahead, but again Obama is winning here on the ground and is ahead in swing counties.

Obama seems to have also fairly comfortably won the Senate but is expected to fall short of taking the House of Representatives by the TV pundits. (Alastair Thompson)

The current Senate balance going into today was 53/47 to the Dems, which includes the two independents who tend to vote with them. The pickup of Maine off the Republicans by former state governor and now independent Angus King is therefore significant. King hasn’t said yet who he will caucus with (but Fox is treating it as a calamity, so we’ll assume King is as neo-Democrat as the woman he replaced, Olympia Snowe) means that the Senate looks like staying onside for Obama, if he retains the Presidency.

In other key races, Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill was leading Republican Rep. and notorious anti-woman god-bothererTodd Akin.( he of women who get raped know how not to get pregnant infamy) in Missouri.

In Indiana, Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly is still narrowly leading Richard Mourdock, but it’s really tightening up, and the George Allen (R) vs. Tim Kaine (D) race is still very, very close. At present, Allen is ahead, and this could be a Republican gain. When the time zone shifts to Nevada, look out for the other key Senate battle – i.e. the bitter, closely contested contest between Republican Dean Heller and Shelley Berkley for the Republicans.

Earlier today I mentioned Hillsborough County in the I-4 Florida corridor as a crucial bellwether. With 61 percent reporting, Obama is winning Hillsborough County 52-47. To win the state, Daily Kos computes that Obama needs to win it by…52-47. Yay.

Right now, the count is deadlocked overall in Florida at 50/50.

2.15 pm
First sign of sackcloth and ashes on Fox. Bill O’Reilly notes that Obama is doing really well among independents in New Hampshire. “That’s very good for the President.” What’s happening to America? O’Reilly laments. It’s becoming more like Europe! Where people ask what government can do for them, rather than – in JFK parlance – what you can do for yourself and your country. And…O’Reilly adds, Obama targeted those people! He’s winning by pandering to the moochers. O me miserum.

Back among the normal folks, the evidence is that Romney is not getting the traction he needed to win this. There is no sign at all of him looking likely to taker the states he needs. However, Romney is still ahead at last count in the popular vote, which could be a problem for Obama’s mandate, but at the moment his presidency is not under any discernible threat. Watch out for these races in the Senate: Brown vs. Warren in Massachusetts (where the admirable Elizabeth Warren has fought a really tough battle against Scott Brown, Donnelly vs. the celestial rape theorist Mourdock in Indiana, where Donnelly is still clearly ahead, and the Tim Kaine vs. George Allen fight in Virginia, where the Republican Allen has been ahead.

Note this from daily Kos: from Ohio results: “Our handy benchmark county chart says we need to win Hamilton County (OH) by 52-47 to win Ohio. We’re currently up 57-42 in the early vote.” Hamilton County includes Cincinnati, but also some Romney friendly territory beyond. Still looking go0od for Obama.

Daily Kos is reporting that in the senatorial race in Indiana, Richard Mourdock – the Republican who felt the fruits of rape were God’s will – is going to lose.

Still no really substantive results or trends. (Far slower than in 2008.) Romney’s lead in Indiana is not indicative, since the first returns in Indiana are always from rural areas, not from Obama’s stronghold around Gary. Amusing to see that among Tea Party supporters some 10% support Obama, while when you switch the question to Tea Party opponents, 10% of them support Romney. 1.8 provisional ballots in Ohio won’t be able to be counted for nearly a week! This could not only be a long night, but potentially a 2000.

The early Electoral College vote projection is 24 -3 to Romney right now. Not significant, given the early count locations. If you look for a moment at the exit polling in Ohio it’s a three point lead to Obama, and a deadlock in North Carolina. Again, no sign yet of a strong surge for Romney. He’s doing better than McCain – which you’d expect – but not yet enough to signal he can win this. On CNN David Gergen thinks the early signs are that Obama’s Midwest firewall in holding up.

1pm – First Results Virginia a Tie In Exit Poll

As polls close in six states CNN has projected expected wins for Romney and Kentucky and Obama in Vermont. And the race for the electoral college begins with 8 votes to Romney and 3 votes to Obama. The winner needs to get to 270 electoral votes.

The exit poll in Virginia shows a 49 to 49 tie. If this proves accurate then the first battleground state could take all night to declare a result. However pundits are already talking about the “Reticent Republican Voter” phenomena which has been used to explain why exit polls in the 2000, 2004 and 2008 election under-estimated the republican vote. (Alastair Thompson)


Great quotes from the Orlando Sentinel newspaper, which has been reporting four hour queues to vote in Florida :

Edward Tate said he hasn’t stood in a line this long since he waited to ride the Screaming Eagle rollercoaster at a Six Flags amusement park…”I don’t feel [negative advertisements] have any place in politics, especially if it’s not true,” said Tate, of Winter Park..

And this :

“I’ve seen ants move faster,” said Mark Kalicki,60, holding an umbrella over him and his wife, Valerie, 53. This line is also the longest one the couple has waited in to vote for an election. But Valerie is here to vote on matters that are important to her such as abortion, women’s rights and Social Security…

And this :
When Jamie Mincey arrived at Precinct 216 in Orlando’s Pine Hills community to vote, she expected a long wait. What she didn’t expect was to be told that she was in the wrong place. After more than an hour in line at Apostolic Church of Jesus Orlando West, Mincey learned to her dismay that she should have been at Precinct 215, just down the road. She said she did not recall receiving a notice from the Supervisor of Elections office that her precinct had changed.

For Mincey, who recently suffered an injury to her leg, had surgery on an arm, and said standing on her feet for any length of time is painful, the news was a real disappointment. But as she called a relative to come pick her up to take her to the correct precinct, she said her commitment to voting was unchanged.

To a considerable extent, this mess is a creation of the Republican governor Rick Scott’s refusal to extend voting hours. This is in marked contrast to 2008 in Florida. Back then, the then Republican governor Charlie Crist signed an executive order to extend kept early voting hours. Scott has shown no similar commitment to democracy, and Crist recently denounced Scott’s actions as “ indefensible.” Or you could call it another version of vote suppression. ( back in 10 minutes)

(Back in 10 minutes.)

Update 12.35pm

Wow. Without even blinking, CNN just gave us an incidental summary of Romneyeconomics: he’ll give everyone a 20% tax cut, and close some tax loopholes. “That’s how he’ll deal with the deficit.” Oh good. And he’ll massively increase defence spending. No wonder The Economist recently endorsed Obama, however grudgingly. Their dissing of Romney was on the button :

…Far from being the voice of fiscal prudence, Mr Romney wants to start with huge tax cuts (which will disproportionately favour the wealthy), while dramatically increasing defence spending. Together those measures would add $7 trillion to the ten-year deficit. He would balance the books through eliminating loopholes (a good idea, but he will not specify which ones) and through savage cuts to programmes that help America’s poor (a bad idea, which will increase inequality still further). At least Mr Obama….has made it clear that any long-term solution has to involve both entitlement reform and tax rises. Mr Romney is still in the cloud-cuckoo-land of thinking you can do it entirely through spending cuts: the Republican even rejected a ratio of ten parts spending cuts to one part tax rises. Backing business is important, but getting the macroeconomics right matters far more.

Loved this verdict from yesterday’s Financial Times :

…Iinvestors are attempting to position themselves in different asset classes for an uncertain outcome. “Romney’s policy is dollar-bullish while Obama’s re-election means the status quo: dovish monetary and expansionary fiscal policy and so dollar-bearish,” says James Kwok, head of currency management at Amundi.

(Back in 15 minutes…)

Update 12.15pm

For what it’s worth, ABC News is running some early voting result percentages in battleground states, and comparing them
to the 2008 early voting returns :

With one exception, the Democrats still hold an advantage, but smaller than in 2008 which is no surprise. In Colorado though, the situation is reversed from 2008, with Republicans now ahead. Is this early positive news for Romney ?

Once today’s returns start to come in we’ll be following certain counties in Ohio – there are up to 13 counties in Ohio that are significant in various ways. Cuyahoga, Hamilton, Perry etc etc…(Some have even argued that the key factor in Ohio will be the extent to which Obama staunches his losses in the Republican counties and the degree to which he holds in his bastions around Cleveland. If you like, check out the Ohio returns yourself at this official state of Ohio site :

Similarly in Florida, where the crucial part of the state is the famous I-4 corridor, which runs from the Tampa Bay region in the west through Orlando in the inland centre, to Daytona Beach on the east coast. North of the I-4 corridor is predictably Republican, south of it is fairly solidly for the Democrats. Within the I-4 corridor, the counties around Tampa Bay are the most crucial : Hillsborough and Pinellas County are two of those three key counties. You can follow the Pinellas returns here and the returns for Hillsborough County here :

Least surprising story so far : Daily Kos is reporting that trade unionists in Ohio have voted for Obama.

(Back in 20 minutes)

Update: 11.30am
Stealing Ohio? Reasons to be Paranoid.
Vote suppression among poor, black and Latino voters and tampering with the voting machines is the dark side of Election Day, USA. The latest example? Last Friday, just one working day before the election, Ohio’s secretary of state Jon Husted (who is a Republican) announced a change to the voter ID rules, thereby placing the onus onto voters of identifying on their ballot the type of voter ID they used in casting a provisional ballot. This is despite the clear wording under Ohio state law that this onus rests with the poll workers on election day.As one veteran Ohio poll observer told the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

I think we would find provisional ballots are disporportionally more common in poorer precincts. For financially stable voters, which in Ohio is middle-class and suburban populations that are statistically more likely to vote Republican, complying to this directive is both far less likely to even come up, and as some are saying, no big deal to comply to. But in the urban precincts where I have observed over three federal elections, use of, and confusion about, the correct use of provisional ballots was very common; and the poll workers were not clear or informed about how to use them correctly. The net effect of this directive is to create additional barriers to vote for poor, urban citizens. In that regard, it is like the poll taxes of old, which were relatively insignificant to white voters, but punitive to poorer blacks.

Husted’s gambit will be challenged in an Ohio court tomorrow morning, the day after the election. So if the overall result is close, this will be the opening shot in the recount/litigation battle. Even more alarmingly, Husted has also been the central player in the decision to place 39 “experimental” (and as yet, unauthorized) software patches into the electronic voting machines in 39 counties across Ohio. This story is so disturbing it should be read in full.

Sample extract:
…Questions about a last-minute secret software patch to be used across multiple counties in Ohio, one that now resides on vote tabulation systems and is said to produce easily modifiable text files to be uploaded to a very partisan secretary of state’s Election Night Reporting System, certainly have a familiar, and to some, a chilling ring just over 24 hours before the next presidential election could well be decided in the Buckeye State.

As the Free Press notes, “Government reports such as Ohio’s Everest study [PDF] [the landmark analysis of the state’s electronic voting systems by world class academic and corporate computer science and security experts, commissioned by Husted’s Democratic predecessor Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner] document that any single change to the system could corrupt the whole voting process.”

Late on Sunday, in a new update from Bello and Fitrakis at the Free Press, the pair describe that “The potential federal illegality of this software has been hidden from public scrutiny by the Secretary of State’s Election Counsel Brandi Seske.” They report that a Sept. 29 memo from Seske describes “de minimis changes” in the ES&S software that allowed for use of the software updates without state testing. “De minimis,” they explain, “is a legal term for minute.”

And yet, they go on to cite a memo from the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission, the body tasked with certifying electronic voting and tabulation systems at the federal level, dated February 8, 2012 entitled “Software and Firmware modifications are not de minimis changes.”

“Ohio election law provides for experimental equipment only in a limited number of precincts per county,” they report. “Installing uncertified and untested software on central tabulation equipment essentially affects every single precinct in a given county.”

“The method of execution chosen,” for this effort, notes March in his affidavit for the Fitrakis/Arnebeck injunction lawsuit, “is unspeakably stupid, excessively complex and insanely risky. In medical terms it is the equivalent of doing open heart surgery as part of a method of removing somebody’s hemorrhoids. Whoever came up with this idea is either the dumbest Information Technology ‘professional’ in the US or has criminal intent against the Ohio election process.”

Not what the Founding Fathers had in mind.

(Back in 20 minutes.)

Update: 11.05am
The stereotype has Romney as the candidate of elderly white males and Obama the candidate of everyone else. That’s not entirely true. White females also tend to support Romney, but by a narrower margin. Here’s how Joan Walsh summarized the race situation on Salon earlier this week:

The president trails Mitt Romney 54-37 percent among whites in the latest Pew poll (although that’s down from 58-34 two weeks ago.) He’s behind with white women who are older than 50 by 51-43; the gap is bigger with the same cohort of men, 55-37. The only group of whites Obama is winning nationally is 18-29 year olds, where he leads Romney 46-44, less than he did in 2008.

To an awkward extent, Obama’s fate today comes down to white people. Pollsters and analysts agree: If the electorate that turns out in 2012 is more than 75 percent white (it was 74 percent in 2008 and 77 percent in 2010), Obama almost certainly loses. If it’s 74 percent or less, Obama wins. Clearly, if Democrats behaved like Republicans, they’d look for ways to suppress the white vote.

Regionally though, those national figures break down in interesting ways. One reason Obama has his ‘Midwest firewall’ safety zone is that white males in Ohio (and so far in Wisconsin) don’t seem to be behaving quite the same way as white males in Virginia, Florida etc etc. Big reason: the auto company bailout by Obama helped protect jobs in the region, and reportedly, there is also a marked degree of suspicion in Ohio of Romney’s job creating intentions – and related worries about what his austerity message will mean in terms of job destruction and/or outsourcing. Which suggests that the political messages about the economy can (and do) trump the race factor in some parts of the country.

As an antidote to the ugliness of race messaging, you can always have another look at this lovely photo.

(Back in 15 minutes.)

10.30 am
Besides the presidential contest between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, some 33 Senators are up for re-election today – 21 of them are Democrats, plus two independents who caucus with them. (Only 10 Republican senators are up for re-election.) Finally, 13 state governorships are also being contested, amid a myriad of local contests. More on some of those races later.

OK, the magic number for the presidency is 270 Electoral College votes out of the 538 on offer. (States are awarded numbers of Electors on the basis of population, but the ratios are a bit out of whack. See below.) Already today, news is coming in from Ohio of long lines of voters and malfunctioning voting machines.

Many Northeast Ohioans who voted today found long lines and some malfunctioning balloting equipment….

Cuyahoga County Board of Elections Director Jane Platten confirmed that they had heard complaints of ballot boxes jamming but said that would not affect the votes. Voters in Maple Heights, Cleveland Heights, Cleveland and Parma, among other places, also reported jamming scanners.

Actually, the sight on CNN of long lines of people waiting patiently to exercise their right to vote seems quite shameful, in the richest country on earth. The lines remind me of the elections in South Africa in their first free election, in 1994. People there waited in the sun for twelve, fifteen hours or more to exercise the precious right to vote. But in the US? It has put people on the moon. It spent hundreds of billions on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more hundreds of billions in bailing out the financial system. Yet when it comes to democratic choice, it runs a ramshackle voting system that looks as though it is being managed by Hamid Karzai. Bureaucratic hurdles, not enough voting machines in working order, long voting lines etc…terrible.

Okay, Cue to focus in on the main battleground states today: which are Ohio, Virginia, Florida, Colorado and Wisconsin. At the next level of marginality are Nevada, Pennsylvania, Iowa, New Hampshire and North Carolina. The over-riding importance of these swing states explains why the two candidates have visited only 10 states in total since their party conventions. (By contrast, during a tight race in another era, Richard Nixon reportedly visited all 50 states during the 1960 campaign, while JFK made it to 49.) As the Washington Post noted recently, there are some small towns in Ohio that have received more attention from the candidates in this election campaign than the entire West Coast of the USA. That’s what you get in a First Past the Post system where proportional representation is restricted to the state of Maine and part of Nebraska – which allocate their Electoral College votes by a tiered form of PR based on congressional districts, plus two at-large electors awarded to the candidate who wins the states’ popular votes.

Footnote on PR: One other way in which the US Electoral College system departs from the strictly ‘one person/ one vote’ notion of democracy is that the computation is based according to the total size of the population in the state, not according to the numbers of those who are eligible to vote. So given that large numbers of children, non-citizens and (in quite a lot of states) criminals and former criminals can’t vote, this does distort the Electoral College ratios, a bit. Or quite a bit, depending on your perspective.

The best example of the skew? Wyoming has three Electoral College votes, but each represents about 135,000 voters while Florida has 29 Electoral College votes, which comes out roughly to one EC vote for every 480,000 voters. So while Wyoming may be mere peanuts in the overall race, a vote there is three times more valuable than a vote cast in the Sunshine State.

The State of Play (The subsequent lists are largely taken from the Economist’s breakdown of cumulative state polling).

The Obama List. Solid for him: California (55), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), District of Columbia (3), Hawaii (4), Illinois (20), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (11), New Jersey (14), New York (29), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3).

Leaning to Obama: Maine (4), Minnesota (10), New Mexico (5), Oregon (7), Washington (12).
Leaning to Obama but still very close: Michigan (16), Nevada (6), Pennsylvania (20), Wisconsin (10).

Cumulative Electoral College Votes for Obama: 253

The Romney List. Solid for him : Alaska (3), Alabama (9), Arkansas (6), Idaho (4), Kansas (6), Kentucky (8), Louisiana (8), Mississippi (6), Nebraska (5, though the state allows splitting of its ECVs; Romney is ahead in the 2nd congressional district, which went for Obama in 2008), North Dakota (3), Oklahoma (7), South Carolina (9), South Dakota (3), Tennessee (11), Texas (38), Utah (6), West Virginia (5), Wyoming (3).

Leaning to Romney: Arizona (11), Georgia, (16), Indiana (11), Missouri (10), Montana (3).
Leaning Romney but very close: North Carolina (15).
Cumulative Electoral College Votes for Romney: 206

Too close to call: Colorado (9), Florida (29), Iowa (6), New Hampshire (4), Ohio (18), Virginia (13) Total Electoral College Votes Too Close To Call :: 79

BTW, the Politico website’s breakdown, (which is based on the rolling averages of polling collated by RealClear Politics) predicts a win to Obama 303 – 235 in the Electoral College. This is premised on Romney winning Florida, but Obama winning Virginia, Iowa, Wisconsin and crucially, Ohio.

OK, here are a couple of possible scenarios. Even if Romney won Florida (which looks increasingly likely) and Virginia (a dead heat right now) the Republican contender would be still only be up around the 250 mark, and winning Colorado’s seven votes and New Hampshire’s four votes would still put him at just over 260. That doesn’t quite make it. Even with Iowa, Romney still falls short. That’s why Obama’s so called industrial Midwest ‘firewall’ – Ohio, Wisconsin, and (at a stretch geographically) Pennsylvania – is so crucial.

Among other things, Obama’s relative strength in that belt of states signals how politically successful the auto company bailout has been for the President. It also means Obama can win even if he loses Florida and Virginia, so long as he takes Ohio and Wisconsin. Romney has to win Ohio or Wisconsin – or maybe, in a big game changer, Pennsylvania, where the race has tightened up again in recent days, as conceded yesterday by Obama’s deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter. Maybe that was a coded don’t-be–complacent get out the vote message from Cutter.

Outlook: If you’re an Obama supporter – and if your home is anywhere outside the continental United States, then that’s likely – take comfort in the slight edge he has gained in both the national opinion polls and main battleground state polling over the past few days, which show him clawing back the small lead that Romney gained after the first presidential debate. Conversely, on a cautionary note: …Obama managed to win nine states in 2008 that the Democrats had failed to win in 2004. In six of those states, keep in mind that he was behind John McCain prior to the market crash. Meaning: it wasn’t simply the hopes, dreams and related momentum around Obama’s historic candidacy that carried him across the line in 2008, but a market crash that sunk the incumbent Republican Party and its candidate. Sarah Palin helped, too. This time, the electorate has fewer illusions about Obama and the blame and the burdens of incumbency are all on his shoulders. There’s good reason to feel worried. (Back in 20 minutes.)