There is a scenario whereby Romney could eke out an Electoral College win while suffering defeats in both states, but he would have to run the table in the other six tossups, including Wisconsin, which had been viewed as leaning firmly in Obama’s direction until native son Ryan was added to the GOP ticket. (The president currently holds a 6.4 percentage point lead there, according to the RCP Average.)

A more likely strategy for Romney to survive, should he lose Ohio, would be for him to hang onto Virginia and then pick off either Iowa or Wisconsin — states Obama won by double digits in 2008. …

Recent polling suggests that Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes are a more difficult target for Romney than Iowa’s six. And even if the GOP nominee wins both, their combined total of 16 electoral votes falls short of Ohio’s 18.

Still, with so much recent variance in the state polls and uncertainty over how the race will play out in the coming weeks, national Republicans believe Romney could win the presidency by expanding the map in the Upper Midwest should it contract in either Ohio or Virginia.