A Deep Dive Into Mitt Romney's Horribly Long Odds Of Making A Comeback

Mitt Romney

Photo: AP

On Wednesday, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney dismissed concerns over a recent glut of bad swing-state polling that has left him in trouble in the near must-win: Ohio.”I’m very pleased with some polls, less so with other polls, but frankly at this early stage, polls go up, polls go down,” Romney told ABC’s David Muir after a day of round-the-clock campaigning in the Buckeye State. 

Romney will spend the next 40 days campaigning there tirelessly, because the state offers him one of his few clear paths to electoral college victory. Though he only trails by an average of 4 points in national polling, he’ll be hard-pressed to pick up the electoral college votes he needs without Ohio. 

With that in mind, we took a look at where Romney is facing the biggest challenges — and what happens if he doesn’t overcome them.


Florida has become the most troubling state for Romney in recent days, going from pure toss-up to trending more in Obama's direction.

Obama holds about a 3-point lead over Romney in the RealClearPolitics average of the state, despite the fact that the Republican National Convention was held in Tampa at the end of last month.

This map shows why Florida is a virtual must-win for Romney. If he loses, he would have to take swing states Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire, Colorado, Wisconsin, Nevada and Virginia to get past 270. That's an extremely illogical path to victory -- especially because two of those states (Ohio and Wisconsin) have moved to the 'lean Obama' column on the RCP average.


Ohio is perhaps Romney's biggest challenge. After a brutal set of polls this week, he's down by an average of more than 5 points there, and some even have him down as much as 8 to 10 points. RealClearPolitics has moved the state to the 'lean Obama' column, giving the president 265 electoral votes based on states without any toss-ups.

Without Ohio, Romney has to win Florida, as well as New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada, Virginia and Colorado.


Virginia is another state where things become complicated for Romney if he loses. Right now, it doesn't look great -- the RealClearPolitics average shows Obama with a 4.5-point lead over Romney in the state.

If Romney loses here, he'll have to hang onto Ohio, Florida, New Hampshire, Iowa and Colorado as the most plausible path to victory. If Ohio keeps leaning as left as it has been lately, Romney will have to do something implausible -- like steal away Michigan or Pennsylvania, two states where Obama has a huge advantage.

North Carolina

North Carolina has started to turn in Obama's favour in recent weeks.

Recent polls from High Point University, National Research, and Purple Strategies have put Obama in the lead there, and Romney has to hope that they're either flukes or just a brief downswing. The RealClearPolitics average now gives the president a 1-point advantage on Romney.

If Romney cannot win North Carolina, it's a twofold kick in the gut. First, it would likely mean he's not performing well in other, less-reliable Republican states. Second, he'd have to hold onto Ohio, Florida, Virginia, New Hampshire, Iowa and Colorado to get to 270.


Nevada continues to be one of the worst-hit states of the recession, but Romney's message hasn't stuck there with voters. Current polling gives Obama a 4.5-per cent average lead over Romney in the RealClearPolitics average.

If Romney loses Nevada, keeping Ohio and Florida in his column is again the key to victory. He'd also have to take Virginia and New Hampshire.


In Iowa, Obama is nearing a 5-point lead in the RealClearPolitics average. Winning Iowa is less important than some of the other battleground states, but its six electoral votes could help stave off some bigger losses.

If Iowa goes blue, Romney would need to keep Ohio, Virginia, Florida and Nevada in his column. Or he could lose Nevada and win New Hampshire.


Obama is polling around 3 points higher than Romney, and has been either very close to or above the 50 per cent threshold of support in recent polling.

Without Colorado, Romney would have to hold onto Florida, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina and Nevada.


Wisconsin has trended more and more toward Obama in recent days and weeks. The RCP average now stands around 8 points, but that's partly skewed by a Marquette Law School poll that had Obama with a 14-point lead and sampled 11 per cent more Democrats than Republicans.

Wisconsin has never been anything close to a must-win state for Romney and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, but Republicans thought the Wisconsin recall election would give them a boost and could turn Wisconsin into the deciding state this November.

Without Wisconsin, Romney's path still runs through Ohio, Florida and Virginia.

New Hampshire

Mitt Romney has a summer home in New Hampshire, but Obama holds a small lead in the state. Despite two hotly contested House races, Romney has not been able to capitalise on the state's rightward shift since 2008.

Obama is leading the state by an average of a single point. Like Wisconsin and Iowa, losing New Hampshire on its own would be far from a catastrophe for Romney, as it only has four electoral votes. But here's why it could be important...

PRESENTING: The Most Plausible Path To Victory For Mitt Romney

Here's what has become the most logical path for Romney to take in light of recent polling, one that would give him 273 electoral votes to Obama's 265.

If he loses Ohio and Wisconsin, Romney would need to make a comeback in every single toss-up state in question.

Want to dive deeper into the swing states?

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