Obama Has Small Electoral Lead but Turnout is Key

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 4 2012 1:48 PM

Obama Enjoys Slight Electoral College Lead, but Turnout Will be Key

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President Obama and former president Bill Clinton greet supporters during a campaign rally at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, Virginia, on Saturday

Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

As Mitt Romney and Barack Obama rushed through battleground states in the final push before Tuesday, the president continues to hold a slim advantage in the race for electoral votes, according to the Washington Post analysis. The popular vote is by all accounts virtually tied. The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll and the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll both have Obama up by one point, 48 percent to 47 percent while Washington Post/ABC News has the two candidates tied at 48 percent among likely voters.

Yet as it has been for much of the race, Obama’s path to electoral college victory remains easier, points out the Post. For now it seems Obama has 243 electoral votes virtually locked up to Romney’s 206. The Associated Press says that right now Obama is "all but assured" 249 votes to Romney's 206. Even though Romney is trying to make a late appeal to Pennsylvania and Minnesota, they continue to favor Obama, according to polls. If they do go the president’s way, he would only need 27 of the remaining 89 electoral votes to win, while Romney would need 64 of the 89. The key for Obama though is enthusiasm and whether the same voters who propelled him to victory in 2008 will return to the polls.The six key states to watch on election day? Colorado, Florida, Ohio, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Wisconsin, notes the AP.

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The New York Times’ Nate Silver is a bit more confident of an Obama victory, writing that “we are at the point where the polls would have to be biased against Mr. Romney (in a statistical sense) in order for him to win the Electoral College.”

So far, the Obama team seems pretty confident, points out the National Journal. The president’s campaign believes it has been able to get such a strong margin with early voting in key states that it would be nearly impossible for Romney to catch up. But Republicans believe the Democrats might be overconfident, insisting that “higher GOP turnout, more enthusiasm, and a late spurt of support among independents will catapult Romney to victory,” notes the National Journal’s Major Garrett.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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