Heading into the final furlong of the US Presidential race, all the polls and the pundits have Romney and Obama neck-and-neck. Since Romney’s strong first debate performance and Obama’s shocker, a contest that was once considered by many as a foregone conclusion is now back in the balance.
With two weeks to go there is one more debate and still plenty of mud to sling. Anyone who is undecided at this point may still be pushed one way or another by a moment in a debate or an attack ad. However, debate bounces soon wear off and most of the negative campaigns have run their course so Obama still looks good to win.
US Presidential elections are decided by Electoral College votes. The person with the most votes in a state gets a pre-determined number of points. California, which will go blue for Barack, will give him 55 votes whereas Texas is a guaranteed 38 votes for Romney. From then on it is a race to the 270 votes that are needed to win. So with many states such as New York and Missouri being guaranteed Obama and Romney strongholds respectively, the election all comes down to a few states.
This then means that the voters of Ohio, Colorado, Virginia and Arizona will ultimately decide who will be President for the rest of the United States of America. The next few weeks will see both campaigns throwing everything at these states, producing wall-to-wall campaign adverts on the television and wheeling out big name party members to stump for their men. The people in these states must feel special and utterly sick of it in equal measure.
The Electoral College system favours an Obama victory. The incumbent has a few different paths to victory. Romney isn’t as lucky; he desperately needs to take Ohio, whereas Obama can lose out in Ohio but still have a good chance of winning the election. One of the main reasons Obama looks set to win is because he looks likely to win Ohio at the moment.
An interesting anomaly with this system is that it is possible that Romney gets the most votes from the American people but Barack Obama remains in the White House. Odds of 5.00 are available for a candidate to win the majority of the nationwide vote but to lose the election. If Mitt Romney has a strong run-in or an event shakes Obama’s standing, this could be a real possibility.
Another feature of this race is the lack of impact Paul Ryan has brought to the Mitt Romney ticket. After the headline grabbing of Sarah Palin in 2008, Ryan was expected to sew up the Republican base and confirm their image of fiscal responsibility. However he hasn’t brought much to the table and was outclassed by Joe Biden in the Vice Presidential debate the other week. That was Ryan’s big moment on the national stage and he blew it. You can have a flutter on who will be Vice President come January. Everything points to Biden but you can even put something on the darkest of dark horses and gamble on Donald Trump to sneak into the Oval Office at 300.00.
All things considered, expect to see a steady Obama win come election day. I see him easing past 270 Electoral Votes with a little room to spare, with Romney barely breaking over 250.