Yesterday much hay was made about the release of polls in the presidential race from Virginia by both Public Policy Polling and the Washington Post. They show President Obama leading Mitt Romney by 7-8%. While nothing is definitive this early, it indicates that Virginia might be out of reach for Romney.
If we take a look at conservative-leaning Real Clear Politic's electoral map and add Virginia to the states they list as either likely or lean Obama, the President would be at 266 electoral votes - just 4 shy of winning. What that means is that picking up any one of the swing states (including New Hampshire) would put him over the top.
Looking at this from Romney's point of view, he'd have to run the table by winning every single swing state in order to win. That would include both Ohio AND Florida in addition to North Carolina, New Hampshire, Iowa, Missouri, Colorado and Arizona. Right now President Obama has the lead in Ohio, North Carolina and Colorado. New Hampshire and Iowa haven't been polled enough to give much of an indication. Romney has the lead in Missouri and Arizona, with Florida basically tied.
Its true that that's simply a snapshot of how things look today - six months away from the election. But there are a couple of things to consider.
- This is the time during the election when the media develops the memes they'll stick to throughout. As I said earlier this week, the Obama campaign has taken control of that one for now and Romney is finding himself on the defensive.
- Romney basically secured the nomination a few weeks ago but we haven't seen any real momentum in his direction when it comes to gaining electoral votes. That suggests that his improvement in the popular vote totals is coming from solidification of traditional red states rather than gaining ground in the swing states. The Virginia polls are a good example of that. But so is a state like Nevada - which is now listed as lean Obama. And of course there's the issue of a state like Arizona going from red to swing.