Romney could, in theory, replace Virginia’s 13 electoral votes by winning Wisconsin (10) and New Hampshire (4), but Wisconsin and New Hampshire are supposed to be Plan B in case he loses Ohio. If he loses Virginia, then there is no Plan B: Realistically, his only path would be through Ohio. And if VA goes the wrong way, that makes a clean sweep of OH, WI, and NH seem highly unlikely.
Fortunately, Virginia’s tilting the right way — barely. Romney’s led in seven of the nine polls taken there since the first debate, including each of the last five. If he comes through here and in Florida, where he’s led in 12 of the last 14 polls, then he’s got 248 EVs in the bank (by RCP’s estimate) with Colorado, Ohio, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire all on the radar. The latest from Rasmussen:
Last week, Romney hit the 50% mark for the first time here, while Obama earned 47% of the vote. With the exception of last week, however, the candidates have been within two points or less of each other in every survey in Virginia since April…
Ninety-two percent (92%) of the state’s voters now say they’ve made up their minds whom they will vote for. That’s up four points from last week. Romney leads 52% to 48% among these voters.
Virginia voters trust Romney more than the president by a 51% to 46% margin when it comes to handling the economy. This is unchanged from a week ago. When it comes to national security and energy policy, it’s a near tie, with Romney posting a one-point edge over Obama in terms of voter trust on both issues. These findings are comparable to voter attitudes nationally.
Ras also has a new poll of Pennsylvania today: Obama by five, with over 50 percent of the vote. Between that and Jon Ralston’s arguments for why O’s early-voting advantage in Nevada will be tough (but not impossible) to overcome, it looks for the moment like Iowa is the most plausible candidate among the supposed “Obama states” to surprise everyone on election night. Of the last five polls taken there, Obama leads in two, Romney leads in one, and two more are tied. And Romney’s giving the state plenty of attention: Remember, his big economic speech tomorrow will be delivered in Ames. If New Hampshire falls through, Iowa could replace it. Imagine The One winning squeakers in NH and Ohio but losing the presidency anyway as Iowa and Wisconsin come through for Romney. Awesome.
Just one little hitch in all of this via Brendan Loy: What if Hurricane Sandy kinda sorta destroys the eastern United States next week?
I spoke this morning with my father, a retired elections bureaucrat in Connecticut, and he made the excellent point that the week before the election is a very busy for folks like him in his old job, and for registrars of voters, town clerks and the like. They’re testing voting machines, printing ballots or other critical papers, and doing all sorts of other mundane tasks that are critical to assuring a smooth Election Day. If the impact of the storm wipes out all or part of that critical “prep week,” then even if things are relatively “back to normal” by Election Day (by no means a given; see below), there would likely be an invisible storm impact in the form of additional chaos, “irregularities” and all manner of disruptions at the polls — failed voting machines, missing ballots, etc. — simply because the officials had to cut short their preparation, so more mistakes will inevitably happen…
Sandy is by no means equivalent to Katrina, but it could certainly lead to evacuation orders this weekend for coastal and flood-prone areas in its target zone, and it’s conceivable that those evacuation orders might not be lifted for some time after the storm if power outages, downed trees and power lines, inland flooding, etc. create a witch’s brew of unsafe conditions in the affected areas. If those areas happen to be located in a swing state, or a state with a major Senate race, it is easy to imagine decisions about when to lift evacuation orders becoming intensely politicized.
A nightmare scenario for Democrats would be an evacuation of portions of Philadelphia, which would not only endanger Bob Casey, but would take a state that Obama seems likely to win unless he’s losing swing states across the board (and thus the PA outcome doesn’t really matter), and turn it into a potentially decisive tipping-point state that could hand Romney the presidency even if he loses Ohio and most of the other swing states.
Loy also wonders what’ll happen if the power is still down in various polling places along the eastern seaboard on election day. One word, my friends: Thunderdome. Actually, two more words: Traffic goldmine. I won’t benefit since, as a New Yorker, I’ll apparently be underwater by then, but it’s nice to know that Ed, MKH, and Erika will have weeks of content from the unholy legal and political clusterfark in the aftermath.
Via the Daily Caller, here’s Ed Rendell putting the fear of God into Pennsylvania Democrats who are considering not voting this year.
Update: Maybe Ralston spoke too soon about Nevada.
Update: Corroborating evidence: Fox also has Romney by two in Virginia, a nine-point swing since last month. Has any candidate ever helped himself as much at a debate as Romney did in that first one?