The Obama campaign wants to make the 2012 contest a “choice” between its candidate and the Republican party; the Romney campaign wants to make the vote a referendum on Barack Obama. Mitt Romney is laying low, letting the election revolve around Obama–and winning. While his campaign pushes back against Obama and the mainstream media, Romney is shaking hands on the trail–and winning support in key swing states.
At the outset, Romney’s path to victory seemed a narrow one. It was universally agreed that the 2012 contest would be fought in roughly ten swing states. But Obama’s weak economic performance, and Romney’s quietly effective campaign, has narrowed the field of play. It is now reasonable to imagine that Romney will win in North Carolina and Florida–two states that Obama won in 2008 and that he will likely lose this time around.
Romney is also close to, even with, or ahead of Obama in several other swing states, including Colorado, Iowa, and Ohio. He is also likely to win Indiana, which swung to Obama in 2008 but is likely to swing back. If Romney wins all of those states, all he needs to do to turn Obama out of office is pick up one of Obama’s Electoral College votes from 2008 in both Maine and Nebraska, which split their votes. That would force a tie in the Electoral College (see map above) that would give Romney the win, provided the GOP holds the House.