Seven states to watch on election day

Published November 6, 2012
Seven states could decide who will be the next president of the United States. — File Photo
Seven states could decide who will be the next president of the United States. — File Photo

With the US elections less than a day away, all eyes have narrowed onto a handful of states that will eventually decide the US Presidency.

Although national polls may give the perception of a close race, both the Obama campaign and the Romney campaign know that in the end, it all comes down to electoral math and the magic number of 270 electoral votes. As of now, Barack Obama is projected to win at least 243 electoral votes, while Mitt Romney currently stands at 206 with 89 up for grabs for both candidates.

Here are the states to watch on election day:

Florida (29): This is a must win state for Romney. Losing Florida's 29 electoral votes would mean that he would have to sweep nine other states, including Ohio and Nevada. Even though Obama carried this state in 2008, a flailing economy and an influx of retirees has seen the state sway towards Romney. The result, however, could hinge upon Romney’s ability to swing the Hispanic vote in the state.

Ohio (18): The key state to watch, Ohio, has become the battleground state of the whole election and is Obama’s firewall against a Romney win. Capturing the state would make a second term a near certainty. If the president were to carry Ohio, he can reach the magic number of 270 by winning Virginia or Wisconsin or Colorado, or by winning Iowa and New Hampshire. For Romney, a loss in Ohio would mean he would have to win Colorado, Florida, Virginia, Wisconsin and either Iowa or New Hampshire. Obama had the largest lead in Ohio, thanks to a strong local economy and the auto industry bailout, but it has shrunk considerably since the first debate.

Virginia (13): A change in the state's demographics since 2008 has shifted its electorate from reliably red to hints of blue. An influx of young, diverse and more educated residents have tilted the state into a toss-up for both candidates.

Wisconsin (10): A post debate surge for Romney has bolstered his chances in a state that has been reliably Democratic since 1984. While the presence of Paul Ryan — who hails from Wisconsin — on the Republican ticket is a significant boost for Romney's chances, it doesn’t guarantee a win, making the state’s 10 electoral votes up for grabs.

Colorado (9): Colorado had been a decidedly Republican state, having been carried by Republicans in nine out of the past 10 elections, until Obama upset the cart with a win in 2008 marking a major feather in his cap. Romney will have to win over a large Latino community as well as the prized independents' and women’s vote to reclaim the state.

Iowa (6): The Romney campaign spent a significant time in this state censuring Obama during the primary season earlier this year. The state’s leading newspaper, the Demoines Register, has endorsed Romney after backing Obama four years ago. What this means in the larger picture, time will tell. But in a close contest, Iowa’s six electoral votes could become a hot commodity.

New Hampshire (4): The quaint little state carries some political muscle. The smallest of the swing states, its four electoral votes might seem insignificant but could very well play a big role. Obama won the state in 2008, but Romney, who has a vacation home in New Hampshire, could change the playing field and eke out an improbable win.

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