Filter Elections

    - By Country
     
     

    United States

    Country Profile
     
    Election Profile
     
     

    Special Elections Reports

     
     

    Buy Forecast Products

     

    Buy Country Reviews

     
     

    Election Profile

    The 2012 United States Presidential Election 2012
    Election Date
    Nov 06, 2012
    Election Profile

    Americas: United States

    Presidential Election to be held in November 2012

    *This report looks at the presidential race although it also covers the congressional elections also to be held on the same day*

    ***

    Special Elections Report: The Road to the White House 2012

    November 6, 2012

    Summary:

    A presidential election was to be held in November 2012 between incumbent President Barack Obama and a Republican nominee. After a protracted Republican primary process, it was Willard "Mitt" Romney who emerged as the nominee. Romney would, therefore, contest the presidential election on the Republican ticket against incumbent President Barack Obama, a Democrat. Romney was enjoying the "consolidation" effect as reality set in among Republican voters that he would be their standard bearer. This was manifest in his improving polling numbers. Romney was also getting credit for his business background at a time of economic recovery. For his part, President Obama's re-election prospects were being helped by the fact that the United States economy was consistently -- if only modestly-- adding jobs and the unemployment rate had dipped to just over eight percent. The Republican so-called "war on women" in regards to women's health issues was also boosting the president's standing with female voters. Romney's selection of budget hawk, Paul Ryan, as his running mate aimed to shore up his conservative base. But the Obama-Biden ticket was sure to leverage the Romney-Ryan plan to change Medicare to a voucher program to their benefit. As of September 2012 -- just months ahead of election day -- President Obama and Romney were in a tight race for the White House. Also at stake in November 2012 would be control over the two houses of Congress.

    2012 Elections Primer:

    General elections were scheduled to take place in the United States on the first Tuesday in November 2012. At stake would be the presidency and the composition of the two houses of the bicameral Congress. The president, along with the vice president, is elected to a four-year term. Since 1951, the president has been limited to two terms by a constitutional amendment. There are 100 members of the Senate; they are elected for six-year terms in dual-seat constituencies, with one-third of the seats being contested every two years. There are 435 members of the House of Representatives; they are elected for two-year terms in single-seat constituencies.

    At the presidential level, incumbent President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden were seeking another term in office. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden on the Democratic ticket won a decisive victory over their Republican counterparts, John McCain and Sarah Palin on Nov. 4, 2008. Obama-Biden won an overwhelming 365 electoral votes including one Congressional district of Nebraska, while McCain-Palin carried only 173 electoral votes. Obama-Biden also decisively won the popular vote with 53 percent of the vote share – a full seven percentage points ahead of McCain-Palin with 46 percent. Barack Obama and Joseph Biden were inaugurated into office on Jan. 20, 2009. Obama took office as the 44th president of the United States and the first African American to ever hold that post in the nation's history.

    In 2012, President Obama was seeking re-election against the Republican nominee, Willard "Mitt" Romney. The 2012 election race was expected to be a close and highly competitive contest between the Democratic incumbent president and the Republican standard bearer. President Obama would be joined on the ticket by Vice President Biden. Romney chose Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate.

    In the legislative branch of government, following the 2010 mid-term elections, Democrats retained control of the upper chamber or Senate. Democrats and two Democratic-allied Independents had 53 seats; Republicans held 47 seats. In 2012, Republicans were hoping to shift control of the Senate to their hands. In the 435-seat House of Representatives, following the 2010 mid-term elections, Republicans took control of the lower house, winning 240 seats. Democrats retained just 193 seats while two seats were vacant at the time of writing. With 218 as the "magic number," Democrats would have to pick up 25 seats to take back control of the House of Representatives. The race for the Senate was expected to be a close one; in the House of Representatives, the advantage was with the Republicans.

    See below for coverage of the road to the White House, followed by election results for the presidency and the bicameral Congress.

    The Republican Nomination Process:

    In 2012, President Obama would be challenged by a Republican nominee. Among the likely winners of that nomination was former Governor Willard "Mitt" Romney, a billionaire who was trying for the second time to win the Republican Party's mantle. His previous attempt in 2008 ended in failure as John McCain won the nomination that year. Helped by limitless personal funds, as well as the blessing of "establishment Republicans," Romney was widely regarded as the de facto "frontrunner," even though he could not seem to get past the 25 percent mark among Republican base voters who did not trust the former Massachusetts governor's past moderate positions. Romney's constant lurching to the political right on immigration, the economy, and foreign policy, was presumably aimed at burnishing his conservative credentials.

    Also hoping to grab the Republican nomination was former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who was forced to resign from office more than a decade prior under a cloud of misconduct allegations. The early months of Gingrich's candidacy as a presidential contender were characterized by difficulty as staffers quit en masse over his undisciplined campaign, and as Gingrich appeared unable to attract donors. That said, strong debate performances breathed new life into Gingrich's campaign. As well, time appeared to have erased Republican voters' memories of Gingrich's unfortunate past. With the conservative base eager to find an alternative to Romney, and given their mistrust of the former Massachusetts' governor's conservative credentials, the base Republican bloc soon locked onto Gingrich as the favored "anti-Romney" option. In this way, the former House Speaker was boosted to the head of the pack for several weeks. But front-runner status in a volatile field also meant that Gingrich was subject to relentless attacks by his rivals, and the barrage of negative advertisements eventually took a toll, eroding Gingrich's polling advantage in key states such as Iowa.

    Iconoclast Representative Ron Paul of Texas was also contesting the primary contests. As with Romney, this was another attempt by Ron Paul to gain his party's nomination after a failed 2008 bid. Earlier in the Republicans' primary campaign, Ron Paul was regarded as something of a "long shot" for the nomination. While his anti-spending economic message had a strong following among base voters, his isolationist foreign policy stance was not regarded as the norm among militaristic Republicans.

    Also contesting the Republican nomination were Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, Governor Rick Perry of Texas, former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, former Governor Jon Huntsman of Utah, former Governor Gary Johnson of New Mexico, former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer, and Georgia businessman, Herman Cain.

    For his part, Cain held his place in the limelight as voters flocked to him as the anti-Romney option in the autumn of 2011; a series of salacious allegations by women against Cain forced the head of Godfather's Pizza to withdraw from the race, though.

    Bachmann, Perry, Huntsman, Johnson, and Roemer -- all polling in single digits or low teens -- were not expected to be likely winners of the nomination.

    Once riding high in the polls, Perry's poor debate performances appeared to have negatively affected his prospects, despite an ambitious advertising campaign in Iowa aimed at wooing socially conservative and ultra-religious voters there. He soon withdrew from the presidential contest with a promise to return to the national spotlight in the future. Bachmann benefited from some good early debate performances, which helped her rise in the polls for a temporary period. Some unfortunate and factually-challenged statements appeared to have been the death knell in her case, and she did not recover her earlier level of popularity. She left the presidential race soon after the Iowa caucuses. Huntsman's moderate credentials, embrace of science, and former post in the Obama administration, collectively appeared to have doomed his prospects for the Republican Party's nomination. In fact, analysts were whispering that he was not a conceivable option for the base voters in a party that has drifted to the far right politically. After he withdrew from the race, Huntsman was on the record saying that the time was ripe for an alternative political path, given the Republican Party's tendency towards extremism. Johnson was in similar territory and eventually dropped out of the race, saying he would instead seek the nomination of the Libertarian Party. Roemer has similarly never been considered a possible winner for the Republican nomination due to low popularity among base voters.

    Santorum had initially commanded limited support among early primary and caucus voters, but as the field of likely prospects dwindled, and with Romney still not "sealing the deal" with social conservatives, the intensely-conservative former senator from Pennsylvania was surging in the polls in Iowa, even moving past former front-runner Gingrich. Could Santorum pull off a coup as the last "anti-Romney" option left standing in the field?

    Iowa was the first battle of the nomination contest among the Republicans. Romney eked out what seemed to be a slim win in that state, thanks to the vast amounts of money spent by his "super pacs," ahead of Santorum and Paul. But Romney somewhat underperformed his 2008 primary election result in Iowa in 2012 -- a sign that the Republican base was simply not "sold" on the notion of Romney as the party's standard bearer. But the real story was that of Santorum who managed to stake out a virtual tie and a symbolic victory in Iowa, and would now become the new conservative star in the race. Santorum's good fortune would be elevated days later when the final count that he -- and not Romney -- had actually won Iowa.

    Santorum was to be helped by an angry and passionate Gingrich, who made clear that his new mission would be to destroy Romney. Incensed about Romney's gratuitous use of "super pacs" to attack him (Gingrich) in negative advertising in Iowa, Gingrich vociferously warned Republican voters that Romney's executive experience would allow him (Romney) to "effectively manage the decay of America." The pithy phraseology by Gingrich augured a hitherto unknown assault on Romney, the self-described front runner. But Romney's own momentum would not quickly come to an end as -- consistent with expectations -- won a convincing victory in one of his many home states of New Hampshire. The efforts of Santorum and Gingrich notwithstanding, the victory solidified Romney's position as the prohibitive favorite of the Republican race and set him well on his way to becoming the Republican nominee.

    The dynamic for the primary contest was as follows: several candidates would take their respective turns ousting Romney from his top tier position only to slip from the apex weeks later. It was certainly true that Romney, while apparently holding a consistent quarter of the likely Republican base vote, was having trouble augmenting that support in a party that had moved ever to the right due to the machinations of the populist and extremist elements of the "Tea Party" wing. However, Romney was retaining a plurality of the vote share -- if not a majority -- thanks in part to fragmentation or vote splitting among more conservative candidates. As well, Romney was now "peaking" at precisely the right time. Indeed, Republican base voters were growing more resigned to the possibility that he would be their standard bearer in November 2012. Cognizant of this strong positioning for some time, a Romney staffer in an interview with New York magazine's John Heilemann was on the record saying: "The dynamics couldn't be better for us ... I don’t see any scenario where we’re not the nominee."

    Ultimately, despite winning South Carolina, Gingrich soon found himself on a downward slide, and although Santorum was providing the only viable non-Romney option, both men were soon effectively out of the race. In mid-April 2012, Rick Santorum dropped out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination due to the hospitalization of his young daughter. For his part, Santorum said: "It's over for me." It should be noted that Santorum stopped short of endorsing Romney although he promised to help defeat President Obama in November. Nevertheless, the move all but all but guaranteed the nomination would go to Mitt Romney, as he would now be able to bank votes and delegates in uncontested primary races through the next month. In May 2012, Romney finally gained the support of Santorum who announced his endorsement in an e-mail to supporters. Santorum indicated that Romney would be a better choice than President Obama for voters in November. Romney's status as presumptive nominee was further bolstered in mid-May 2012 when Ron Paul indicated that he would no longer be actively campaigning for the nomination although he was not withdrawing from the race and intended to continue seeking delegates.

    It should be noted that by May 2012, with his status as the presumptive Republican nominee solidifying, Romney was benefiting from "the Republican consolidation effect." He was posting healthier polling numbers at the national level against President Obama, with some surveys showed him highly competitive with -- or even leading -- the incumbent president. Moreover, his business credentials, along with a weak economic recovery, have continued to boost Romney's prospects among voters against President Obama.

    It was yet to be seen how a host of advertising and publicity by the Obama campaign drawing attention to Romney's background at the venture capitalism firm, Bain Capital, would affect presidential prospects. News of his bank accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands, as well as "blind trust" investments, could provide the perfect foil for President Obama's populist message. Romney's image as a man of privilege was only hardened when he referred to his wife's Cadillac cars in the plural during a poorly-attended speech at Ford Field in Michigan.

    Other primary contest issues that could haunt Romney included his infamous $10,000 bet proposal to Perry in a December 2011 debate over the health care mandate he championed in Massachusetts. As well, his championing of Paul Ryan's proposal to privatize Medicare could provide fodder for the Obama camp. Indeed, Romney told an audience at the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference that he would make sweeping changes to Medicare and Social Security. "We're going to have to recognize that Social Security and Medicare are unsustainable, not for the current group of retirees, but for coming generations. And we can't afford to avoid these entitlement challenges any longer."

    The legacy of Santorum in the Republican contest would also likely affect the Republican nominee, given his introduction of ultra-conservative views on birth control to the public discourse. To that end, from February 2012 and for months after, access to birth control for women was dominating the political air waves, and re-igniting the so-called "culture wars." This was a battlefront where conservative culture warriors were on the front lines, staking out hard line positions, making it very difficult for Romney -- as the Republican standard bearer -- to pivot to the middle in the general election. All of these issues, therefore, could become poisonous in a general election battle where the electorate would be far more moderate.

    Note that on May 29, 2012, having won the Republican primary election in Texas, Romney garnered enough delegates to secure the Republican nomination. He celebrated the momentous occasion by co-hosting a fundraiser in Las Vegas with Donald Trump, who earlier in the day questioned the natural born citizenship status of President Obama. At the start of June 2012, as the presumptive Republican nominee, Romney was consolidating the support of Republicans who were united in their desire to defeat President Obama in November 2012. Polling numbers (detailed in the next section) suggested Romney was in striking distance of winning the presidency.

    Mid-2012 saw the Obama re-election campaign launch a brutal attack on the executive business background of Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, at the venture capital firm, Bain Capital. Self-described by Romney himself as his major credential for the presidency, the Republican nominee has argued that his experience turning around failing companies would position him as the best person to turn around the sluggish United States economy. However, the Obama campaign was determined to neutralize and even undermine Romney's claim by advancing an aggressive campaign.

    That campaign began with an extension of the arguments taken up by Romney's own Republican rivals in the primary race that his work at Bain Capital was not so much about turning around struggling companies, as it was a way of maximizing the profits of those who bought up such companies while turning out workers. The practice was dubbed "vulture capitalism" by Governor Rick Perry during the primary contest, and highlighted by Newt Gingrich in his advertising against Romney. Now, in the general election, the Obama campaign was reminding voters that Romney's business experience had little to do with increasing jobs and, instead, focused on maximizing shareholder wealth.

    But it was not so much the work of the Obama campaign as an article by the Washington Post in June 2012 that drew attention to the fact that Bain Capital investments helped send American jobs overseas. The Romney campaign did little to help its cause at this time by arguing that there was a legitimate distinction between "offshoring" and "outsourcing" in the modern American economy. The Romney campaign suggested that while it outsourced jobs -- a typical business practice of allowing external vendors to handle functions externally -- it was not necessarily offshoring American jobs overseas. The distinction was inevitably lost on many people who simply understood that not only was Bain Capital responsible for laying off workers of companies that it bought, but that jobs were going overseas.

    Meanwhile, a number of articles were emerging about Romney's low taxation rates, in the two years of tax returns he supplied, his refusal to supply a wider range of tax returns, and the fact that he appeared to be protecting his own funds from being taxed by holding them in foreign entities. As reported in an article in Vanity Fair in June 2012, Romney appeared to have been able to exploit arcane loopholes to skirt tax laws, and had interests in Swiss bank accounts, as well as holdings in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

    For its part, the Obama campaign in July 2012 decided to capitalize on the dynamic and intensify its assault on the Romney campaign. It did so by highlighting in a devastating advertisement the fact that Bain Capital was responsible for a series of moves in which jobs were outsourced to China, India, Mexico, and other foreign markets. The advertisement, which was being shown in swing states, went further, as it also noted that Romney had money in Swiss bank accounts, as well as holding companies in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. The advertisement ended with the following statement "Mitt Romney's not the solution; he's the problem." The message was clear: Romney was a job creator for workers in other countries, to the detriment of American workers.

    On the other side of the equation, Romney was demanding that President Obama apologize for his aggressive campaign, while his campaign unleashed its own advertisement questioning whether the president was really a agent of hope and change, as promised in 2008. Romney unleashed a harsh critique of President Obama's foreign policy, emphasizing that the president's record was one of weakness rather than American strength.

    Romney then traveled to the United Kingdom as part of an international trip intended to burnish his foreign policy credentials in late July 2012. The British leg of the trip promised to be the easiest for the former venture capital executive and Massachusetts governor. As the person who rehabilitated the flailing winter Olympics in Utah a decade prior, a visit to the London Olympics to remind voters in the United States of that background seemed to be an easy assignment. But in an interview with NBC News, when asked about London's readiness for the 2012 Olympics, Romney expressed "concerns" over the London's challenges with security and border staff strikes, even going so far as to characterize the situation as "not encouraging." Romney further said of the London Olympics: "It's hard to know just how well it will turn out."

    For these statements, Romney earned rebuke from United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron, who sarcastically noted that it would be easier to organize the Olympics "in the middle of nowhere" -- a clear reference to Romney's responsibilities related to the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games. Romney also garnered ridicule from London Mayor Boris Johnson, who said before a crowd of 100,000 gathered in Hyde Park in central London: "There's a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we're ready. Are we ready? Are we ready? Yes, we are!" The crowd soon chanted the 2008 Obama campaign slogan "Yes we can" in response to Mayor Johnson -- evoking a rather unfavorable and unwelcome contrast between Romney and the man he hoped to unseat for the White House.

    Romney soon sought to reverse the tide of negative public relations, which included front page references in a British newspaper to the Republican nominee as "Mitt the Twit," by asserting that London would host a "very successful" Olympics. He also "applauded the work of the organizing committee in bringing the Olympic experience right into the heart of London."

    But Romney's problems in the United Kingdom were not limited to the Olympics. During a meeting with Opposition Leader and Labour Party head, Ed Miliband, Romney appeared to forget the name of the senior politician, and resorted to referring to him as "Mr. Leader." As well, Romney publicly disclosed a meeting with the head of the United Kingdom's secretive intelligence agency, MI6, in a break from proper protocol.

    At home in the United States, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid offered a blunt assessment of the first part of Romney's highly-touted international trip, saying in an interview with the Huffington Post, "It's not good for us as a country -- it's not good for him -- but as a country to have somebody that's nominated by one of the principal parties to go over and insult everybody..." Romney's surrogates, including Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, sought to dismiss the political damage, noting that it did not matter how the international audience viewed Romney. But social media was actively excoriating Romney's official entry onto the international stage, with the phrase "America's Borat" trending on Twitter.

    Romney's trip took on a far more serious and consequential meaning when he arrived in Israel and expressly referred to Jerusalem as Israel's capital. While the United States regards Jerusalem as the Israeli capital (as asserted by Israel), it nonetheless maintains an embassy in Tel Aviv, and has officially treated the final status of Jerusalem as a matter to be decided amidst Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Since Palestinians also claim Jerusalem, United States presidents have typically been sensitive to the contested nature of the question of Jerusalem's jurisdiction. Romney's reference to Jerusalem as Israel's capital was devoid of nuance, and predictably roused the outrage of Palestinian leaders. Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian peace negotiator and aide to President Mahmoud Abbas, said in an interview with Agence France Presse: "The reference was unacceptable and we completely reject it." He continued, "Romney's declarations are harmful to American interests in our region, and they harm peace, security and stability."

    Complicating the situation even further, while speaking before a gathering of wealthy donors in Israel, Romney suggested that cultural superiority accounted for the fact that Israelis were better positioned economically than Palestinians. Romney said: "As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality." He continued by noting that some experts have theorized that "culture makes all the difference." Without a reference to the social, political, and economic complexities of the area, the Republican presidential hopeful further attributed Israel's economic success to the "hand of providence." His comments drew immediate fire from Palestinian leaders with Saeb Erakat saying: "It is a racist statement and this man doesn't realize that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation." Erekat continued, "It seems to me this man lacks information, knowledge, vision and understanding of this region and its people. He also lacks knowledge about the Israelis themselves. I have not heard any Israeli official speak about cultural superiority."

    Meanwhile, Romney also raised eyebrows when he declared that the United States had a "moral imperative" to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Romney characterized Iran as the most destabilizing country in the world, and accused Iran's ruling ayatollahs of "testing our moral defenses." Since Dan Senor, a senior Romney adviser, had already stated that the Republican nominee would respect any decision by Israel to use military force against Iran, some analysts were interpreting Romney's words as a warning that a Romney presidency could augur military engagement as regards to Iran. In fact, it should be noted that Romney never overtly promised military action, although he said that his country should "employ any and all measures to dissuade the Iranian regime from its nuclear course." Moreover, he said: "It is our fervent hope that diplomatic and economic measures will do so. In the final analysis, of course, no option should be excluded." That statement presaged a neoconservative foreign policy by Romney, reminiscent of the Bush administration, and promised to cause anxiety among war-weary factions within the United States.

    Romney's political problems in certain circumscribed regards may or may not have an impact at the polls. Indeed, polling data showed that Romney was still running a competitive race against the president, who was yet to deal with the fact that the June jobs report was disappointing. The Romney campaign was also promising that it would counter-punch with its own aggressive campaign against President Obama, whom they characterized as a failure on the economy.

    But politics aside, Romney would likely have to face unsavory speculation about the ethics of contradictory statements about when exactly he served as CEO of Bain Capital. While he has insisted that he left the company on 1999 and was busy running the Olympics in 2002, technical SEC filings show Romney as a managing member of the Bain Capital in 2002. Romney's top political adviser, Ed Gillespie, attempted to explain the discrepancy by claiming that Romney "retroactively" resigned from Bain Capital. That explanation, though, served only to ignite derision among critics as "#Retroactively" became a nationally trending hashtag on Twitter.

    In the second week of August 2012, in an apparent attempt to take control over the media narrative, Romney selected Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to be his running mate.

    Late in the evening on Aug. 10, 2012, the news broke that Romney would be announcing his selection of vice president the next day. Soon thereafter, new media outlets as well as the online blogosphere began to speculate about whom that selection might be. Would it be one of the expected and "safe" choices -- former Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota or Senator Rob Portman of Ohio? Since the announcement was to take place in Virginia the next day, would it be Governor Bob McDonnell of that state? Would it be a wild card choice such as the outspoken Governor Chris Cristie of New Jersey or perhaps Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana? Perhaps it would be a Republican woman such as Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire or Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina. Or would Romney seek to lock down Florida's crucial 29 electoral votes with Senator Marco Rubio of that state? Quickly, rumors began to circulate that it was Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who was to be Romney's selection. Those rumors quickly turned to news as NBC News and the Huffington Post confirmed that Ryan would, indeed, be officially announced as Romney's running mate the next morning.

    Early on Aug. 11, 2012, an announcement was made via the Romney campaign’s mobile phone application that read as follows: “Mitt’s choice for VP is Paul Ryan." Then, in Norfolk, Virginia, in front of cheering supporters at the venue of the retired battleship USS Wisconsin, Romney formalized his selection as he personally announced that Ryan would be his running mate. There was an unfortunate mistake in so doing as Romney introduced Ryan as "the next president of the United States" but quickly noted the mistake. Ryan then took the spotlight and promised that together with Romney, they would "restore the greatness of this country." Ryan also wasted no time in expressing praise for Romney, saying, "Mitt Romney is a leader with the skills, the background and the character that our country needs at a crucial time in its history." He continued, "Following four years of failed leadership, the hopes of our country, which have inspired the world, are growing dim, and they need someone to revive them. Governor Romney is the man for this moment."

    Supporters of the Romney-Ryan ticket were effusive in their praise of Romney's selection of Ryan for vice president, touting 42-year old fiscal conservative as a "bold choice" and applauding the infusion of youthful energy to the campaign. They pointed to the fact that Ryan -- the chairman of the House Budget Committee and a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee -- would present the perfect ideological supplement for Romney, given his (Ryan's) strenuously conservative credentials and emerging reputation as a tough budget hawk. Indeed, it was Ryan who had advanced a severe austerity-oriented budget, known as the "Path to Prosperity," on behalf of congressional Republicans a few years prior. Included in the budget proposal was an overhaul of national programs, such as Social Security, the radical transformation of Medicare, which included the introduction of vouchers for retirees to use to purchase private insurance, as well as cuts to food aid for the poor, along with tax cuts for wealth Americans. That budget passed overwhelmingly in the Republican-dominated House of Representatives, although it was excoriated by Democrats for its decimation of Social Security, Medicare, and aid to the poor, and hence stalled in the Democratic-led Senate.

    Among conservative Republicans, particularly those belonging to the so-called "Tea Party," there have been doubts about Romney's conservative bona fides, irrespective of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee's clear lurch to the right on all issues of importance to conservatives. The selection of Ryan as his running mate would, no doubt, offer assurances to the conservative base of the Republican Party that a Romney-Ryan ticket would remain faithful to its economic ideology. That conservative theory of trickledown economics (also known as "supply side" economics) was based on the belief that economic growth and job creation could only be spurred by massive tax cuts for the most wealth in society (dubbed the "job creators" by Republicans), along with slashing the debt via sharp cuts into entitlement programs.

    Rarely has a selection been so lauded on the political right, while being simultaneously applauded on the political left. Republicans were enthusiastic about the Romney-Ryan ticket for reasons of adherence to conservative orthodoxy, and the belief that the addition of Romney would solidify the conservative base in Romney's favor. Senator Rob Portman, who had been considered a possible selection for the vice presidential nomination himself, gave sanction to the Romney-Ran ticket saying: "I look forward to working closely with a Romney-Ryan administration to restore fiscal sanity and enact pro-growth policies to create jobs." Former Governor Tim Pawlenty who had also been passed over by Romney expressed "excitement" over the Romney-Ryan ticket. Pawlenty said that the bold economic agenda advanced by Ryan and endorsed by Romney showed that "They're actually willing to lead, they're actually willing to put specific proposals on the table, and I think the American public will respect and appreciate that."

    Democrats appeared to be in a sanguine mood themselves, albeit for entirely different reasons. For Democrats, there was an incredulous delight that Romney had not gone the way of a safe pick, but instead gifted them with the perfect foil for the very economic argument that the president and down-ballot Democrats were trying to make. That is to say, Democrats were advocating a balanced approach to dealing with the debt, which included both tax revenue from the highest echelon of society, as well as targeted budget cuts, the protection of programs such as Social Security and Medicare, along with a Keynesian approach to spurring economic growth. For political reasons, they believed it would be to their advantage to campaign as the guardians of Social Security and Medicare. Crafting a message in that direction had been the priority going into the campaign season, and now with Ryan on the Republican ticket, that task was made much easier in their view.

    In a statement, President Obama's campaign manager Jim Messina said: "As a member of Congress, Ryan rubber-stamped the reckless Bush economic policies that exploded our deficit and crashed our economy." He continued, "Now the Romney-Ryan ticket would take us back by repeating the same, catastrophic mistakes." David Axelrod, senior adviser to President Obama, warned that Romney's selection of Ryan would have a negative effect on the majority of voters who were anxious about having their safety nets stripped away. "He is outside the mainstream, but this was a defining choice for Mitt Romney, and now it's also a clarifying choice for the American people," Axelrod said.

    Indeed, from the fight for the White House to congressional races, the battle lines during Election 2012 would now be cast in sharp relief between standpoint conservative versus progressive philosophies of how to improve the United States economy in the aftermath of the 2008 financial meltdown, and the "Great Recession" that followed.

    But the economy was only part of the platform. On social issues, Ryan's opposition to various forms of birth control, would likely augment his support from among conservatives inclined to vote for Romney. This stance was, of course, a clear contrast to the Obama-Biden stance, which has been to widen access for women's health. In the aftermath of the end to the Iraq war, the limited but successful engagement in Libya, and the elimination of Osama Bin Laden, President Obama's foreign policy credentials could arguably be considered to be high and consistent with a pragmatic internationalist orientation. As a long-serving chairperson of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Vice President Biden's foreign policy qualifications were no subject of debate and corresponded with the president's internationalist foreign policy. By contrast, neither Romney nor Ryan had any experience in this field. However, Romney has made it clear by his selection of foreign policy advisers, as well as his expressed stances on the issues, that he would endorse a muscular and hegemonic foreign policy, reminiscent of the neo-conservative agenda of the former Bush administration. Election 2012 would certainly provide a clear and contrasting choice of the path to be taken in the next four years.

    For the immediate future, though, the Romney-Ryan team was set to embark on a tour of the battleground states. For his part, President Obama would also be traversing swing states in his own campaign to be re-elected to the White House. The conventional wisdom was that Election 2012 would be a tight race to the finish, although the president was showing strength in key battleground states. Nevertheless, most analysts believed that Romney would most certainly enjoy a polling boost in the aftermath of his vice presidential announcement. It was yet to be seen how the state of the race would ultimately settle ahead of the Republican and Democratic conventions set respectively for late August in Florida and early September in North Carolina.

    See below for details about the conventions, the debates, and the state of the race ahead of the election.

    The Incumbent President and His Prospects for Re-election:

    Regardless of who would eventually become the Republican standard bearer against President Obama, the incumbent president would undoubtedly put up a strong fight to hold onto his job. Despite being plagued by high unemployment, an intransigent opposition, and a host of domestic and economic woes, President Obama was holding a job approval rating in the 47-48 percent range in late December 2011 and into early 2012. That number -- while below the "safe watermark" of 50 percent -- still offered a somewhat healthy position for the president to seek re-election. Head to head match-ups suggested that President Obama would have an easier victory over Gingrich or Santorum, rather than Romney. The actual Republican nominee notwithstanding, the president himself acknowledged that the election fight would be tough and that Election 2012 would be close.

    Indeed, polling data at the start of 2012 showed that President Obama would have to work hard to secure victory in mid-west states, such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, all of which gave him their electoral votes in 2008. Likewise, the president was not in a secure position in states that became part of the Obama 2008 coalition, such as Virginia and North Carolina . Should Romney be the nominee, the president was at risk of losing New Hampshire's essential electoral votes. That being said, the president appeared to be holding strong in states such as Nevada and New Mexico, suggesting that he had something of a "western firewall" to protect his re-election prospects.

    President Obama was being helped by the fact that his populist, pro-middle class message held resonance, and re-energized his supporters. Moreover, his bold decision to use the Senate's recess to appoint a progressive to head the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, was winning kudos from the Democratic base. Improving employment figures and President Obama's formidable record on foreign policy could also help him win another four years in office.

    Also, as discussed above, President Obama could be helped indirectly by a protracted primary process on the Republican side, leaving the eventual winner bruised, battered, and standing squarely on right-wing terrain. Such positioning would make it very difficult to pivot to the middle in the general election. Those conditions could favor President Obama's re-election bid, especially as economic conditions moved tentatively into a more favorable direction.

    In February 2012, President Obama was enjoying improving favorability and job approval polling numbers, with a spate of head-to-head match ups against potential Republican rivals showing him in the lead, or in a competitive position. For his part, President Obama said he believed that he deserved a second term in office based on his performance thus far. In an interview with NBC news, President Obama was asked if he had done enough to deserve re-election, given that unemployment rate was still above eight percent. In response, President Obama said, "We've made progress, and the thing right now is to just make sure we don't starting turning in a new direction that could throw that progress off." As the month came to a close, White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that President Obama expected a "vigorous debate," a "competitive election," and ultimate victory in his fight for second term.

    President Obama's re-election prospects were likely helped by the fact that the United States economy added 243,000 jobs in January 2012 and that the unemployment rate had dipped to 8.3 percent. The news constituted two consecutive months of positive news on the economic front. Note: This trend would continue into the months of February, March and April, with modest job growth and an unemployment rate dropping further to around 8.1 percent. In mid-2012, there would be continued modest job growth -- a point that would be interpreted as positive by the Obama camp and derided and insufficiently robust by the Romney camp.

    Earlier, on March 1, 2012, while speaking at a Democratic Party fundraiser in New York, President Obama took credit for the improving economy -- from better employment numbers and expanded credit flow, to the recovery of the auto industry and expanded American manufacturing. That said, he acknowledged that "there are a lot of folks out there who are still having a tough time." Speaking of his presidential prospects, President Obama said, "Nobody is under any illusion that this isn't going to be a tight race for us. But as I travel around the country and I talk to folks, including people who don't support me, when you break down the individual items that are being debated right now -- how do we balance this budget, what our tax policy should be, should we be investing in education, should we make sure that science and basic research continue to be paramount in our economy, do we have an obligation to make sure that our seniors can retire with dignity and respect -- we win that argument every time."

    As the Republican nomination process continued, all the Republican candidates were suffering from negative favorability ratings, while President Obama stood in positive territory. It seemed that the longer the primary contests went on, in combination with the internecine debates, the worse the impressions of the Republican candidates deteriorated. By contrast, President Obama was being viewed more positively.

    With a protracted nomination fight looming ahead for the Republicans, President Obama was taking advantage of his incumbent status. Both he and Vice President Biden were set to travel across the nation to attend fundraisers and rallies, and his campaign launched a well-produced video depicting all the progress made since the time President Obama came to the White House in 2009 and was faced with an economic farrago, an auto industry on the brink, and manifold foreign policy challenges. The president also stole some Super Tuesday attention by scheduling a press conference that day. There, he excoriated his Republican rivals for their "casual" attitude towards war saying that it was always the ones that "pop off the most" who do not pay the price for war.

    In April 2012, with Romney seemingly in place to secure the Republican nomination, President Obama did not waste an opportunity to go after his likely rival and the Republican Party at large. In an address dedicated to rail against the so-called "Ryan budget" (which has been crafted by a key Romney supporter, Representative Paul Ryan), President Obama cast that economic plan as a "radical vision" and "thinly veiled social Darwinism" that amounted to "a prescription for decline" in the country. Linking Romney directly with the Ryan budget, President Obama said: "{Romney] said that he's very supportive of this new budget. And he even called it marvelous -- which is a word you don't often hear when it comes to describing a budget. It's a word you don't often hear generally."

    But by this time, Romney was now regarded as the de facto nominee, and conservatives were consolidating around him. Combined with the "winner effect" after shutting down each of his rivals, Romney was enjoying something of a political "honeymoon" in the polls, which were showing him slightly ahead in head to head match ups against the president.

    It should be noted that during this period, the polling outfit, Gallup, surveyed the battleground states of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin cumulatively. President Obama was leading the expected Republican nominee, Romney. The main "takeaway" from the Gallup survey was the fact that while Romney led President Obama by a mere one percentage point among men, President Obama swamped Romney with women thanks to a lead of a whopping 18 percentage points. It was apparent that the Republican so-called "war on women's health" was repelling female voters and driving them to the fold of the Democratic president. It was yet to be seen if this gender imbalance would prevail on election day in November 2012.

    At the start of May 2012, with the general election campaign really only just starting, the political climate was as follows: Romney (and the Republican Party broadly) would have to work hard to prevent further erosion among key demographic groups such as women and Hispanics, while trying to attract independent voters, if he hoped to be successful in November.

    Meanwhile, if the economic recovery of the country stalled or was anemic, President Obama would have to contend with a rival claiming to have precisely the right economic credentials needed to turn the nation around. Of course, Democratic activists believed that Romney's background at the venture capital firm, Bain Capital, which often gutted struggling companies, and left employees out of work, would highlight his inability to relate to the working class people. While Romney was championing his economic leadership bona fides, President Obama cast conservative economic policies as akin to a "failed science experiment" that caused the economic problems now facing the nation. The resonance of these respective themes among the voting public was yet to be seen.

    For his part, President Obama unveiled his new 2012 campaign slogan "Forward" in the spring of 2012. The new slogan was highlighted in a seven-minute campaign advertisement, ahead of the president's first official re-election rallies to be held in key swing states of Ohio and Virginia. The promotional piece recalls the unfortunate legacy left by the previous Bush administration -- a surging jobless rate and a dismal economic outlook -- and noted the president's efforts to pull the country back from "an economic disaster." The promotional piece also highlighted the keystone of the president's foreign policy agenda -- the refocused attention on the war in Afghanistan and the elimination of the global Jihadist terrorist leader, Osama Bin Laden. The hard-hitting advertisement included criticism of Republicans in both house of Congress for obstructing the president's agenda, to the detriment of the economic recovery of the country.

    By mid-May 2012, the state of the presidential race had turned to a genuine toss-up, but with an advantage to Romney, according to some data. On the issues, Romney seemed to be enjoying the blessing of voters on the economy with a poll sponsored by USA Today in the spring of 2012 showing a decisive advantage for the Republican nominee on the question of who would be best positioned to move the American economy in a more positive direction. A series of other polls (ABC/Washington Post and NBC/Wall Street Journal) in May 2012 showed similar trends as Romney held the economic stewardship advantage.

    One wild card was expected to be the president's recent support for marriage equality -- a controversial and decisive social issue that could diminish support among certain socially conservative sub-groups. It could also impact the president's standing in key swing states such as Ohio and Florida with older populations, who typically have not been as sanguine on the matter of same-sex marriage. Of course, the president's progressive stance could also augment his support among the liberal base of the Democratic Party. With an eye on galvanizing his conservative base, Romney said during a speech at Liberty University that marriage is a "relationship between one man and one woman." Earlier, he advocated a federal statute enshrining such a definition of marriage.

    It was yet to be seen how monumental negative advertising from pro-Romney so-called “super pacs” would affect the presidential race. It was also yet to be seen how advertising and publicity by the Obama campaign drawing attention to Romney's background at the private equity firm, Bain Capital, would affect presidential prospects. The Obama campaign was prepared to go on the offensive against Romney in this regard, pointing out that the Republican's business experience as a venture capitalist had little to do job creation -- the number one issue among American voters. President Barack Obama's senior campaign strategist, David Axelrod, noted in an interview with CNN that Romney's Bain experience "wasn't about job creation." The president himself entered the fray and said during a media availability at the NATO summit on May 21, 2012: "Private equity is set up to maximize profits. That's the healthy part of free market... but that (maximize profits) is not always good for community. When you're president, as opposed to the head of private equity firm, your job is not simply to maximize profit, your job is to figure out how everybody in the country has a fair shot, your job is to retain workers who was laid off, and how to set up an equitable tax system." For his part, though, Romney accentuated his business credentials, arguing that he had the right background to guide the American economic recovery.

    For detailed polling data from the spring of 2012 -- when the race was defined as being between President Obama and Mitt Romney -- through August 2012, please see one of the following polling aggregator websites online:

    Real Clear Politics
    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/?state=nwa

    Talking Points Memo Poll Tracker
    http://polltracker.talkingpointsmemo.com/

    Pollster at Huffington Post
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/pollster

    Swing States at Politico
    http://www.politico.com/2012-election/swing-state/

    270 to win
    http://www.270towin.com/2012-polls/

    See special entries on the conventions and the debates below. See also "Polling Summary" below for the state of the race from the time of the party conventions in August 2012 all the way through to the election.

    Republicans convene at national convention; Romney receives his party's nomination for president

    Republican delegates convened at their party's national convention. In 2012, the Republican National Convention would take place in Tampa, Florida, between Aug. 27, 2012, and Aug. 30, 2012.

    Typically, the Republican gathering marks the official end of a presidential primary season, the formal nomination of the party's candidate for president, and the commencement of the full-blown campaign for a general election. Another purpose for the convocation is to adopt the party platform -- effectively, a statement of the party's core principles. The differences between the two parties can be illuminated clearly via an examination of the party's platforms. The Republican Party's conservative plank from social issues to "trickle down" economic ideology was a contrast to the progressive social agenda and Keynesian economic philosophy of the Democratic Party. The 2012 presidential election would offer a clear choice for voters between the Republican and Democratic candidates respectively.

    Issues aside, the 2012 Republican National Convention would, in effect, be a coronation for the Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney. The highlight of the Republican gathering would be the acceptance speech by Romney; however, other points of interest would be the address of Romney's wife, Ann Romney, as well as his running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. As well, there would be a keynote speech by pugnacious Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey. Other speakers include: RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, Speaker John Boehner, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, Senate Republican Candidate Ted Cruz of Texas, former Senator Rick Santorum, Governor Rick Scott of Florida, Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, G Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia, Governor John Kasich of Ohio, and Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin. There would also be a videotaped tribute to Congressman Ron Paul of Texas and an unspecified appearance by mogul Donald Trump.

    A weather system surrounding Tropical Storm Isaac prompted Republicans to cancel the activities set for the first day of the convention. As well, on the eve of the gathering in Tampa, former Republican Florida Governor Charlie Crist penned an op-ed piece in the Tampa Bay Tribune impugning his party for holding extreme positions on women, immigrants, and senior citizens. Further, former Governor Crist said that the Republican party had "failed to demonstrate the kind of leadership or seriousness voters deserve," and as a result, he was crossing party lines to endorse President Barack Obama for president. The move raised the ire of Republicans with the Republican Party characterizing Crist's endorsement as "a repugnant display from a self-centered, career politician."

    Nevertheless, the nomination process reached significant heights on Aug. 28, 2012 when the roll call of states took place and Romney crossed the threshold of the required delegates to lock down his nomination. In this way, Romney formally secured his position as the Republican Party's standard bearer in the 2012 presidential race.

    Also on the agenda at the convention was the approval of its party platform, which included generous tax cuts, the repeal of President Barack Obama's landmark health care program called the Affordable Care Act, the repeal of Dodd-Frank -- Wall Street regulations passed in the aftermath of the 2008 economic collapse, and an end to all abortion with no exceptions.

    During the prime time events on Aug. 28, 2012, Republican speakers wasted no opportunity to impugn and attack President Barack Obama. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus noted that the United States president had "never run a company," and "had not even run a garage sale or seen the inside of a lemonade stand." House Speaker John Boehner characterized the leader of the free world as an empty suit, saying, "His record is as shallow as his rhetoric." South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley lauded conservative moves to limit illegal immigration, curtail unions, and impose strict voting restrictions. Keynote speaker Gov. Chris Christie set forth the Republican policy vision of conservatism by drawing generously on his own record in New Jersey.

    A softer touch came with Romney's wife, Ann Romney, who spoke of her experience as a stay-at-home mother of five children. In a speech seemingly aimed at reducing the gender gap between the two parties, Ann Romney instructed women about her husband's work ethic and promised that of Mitt Romney: "This is the man America needs. This man will not let us down." Clearly, Ann Romney's speech was a personal treatise intended to improve her husband's image and the wave of positive reports indicated that she was successful in this endeavor.

    A day later on Aug. 29, 2012, the failed Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain took the stage at the convention and excoriated his 2008 rival, President Obama, for failing to become militarily engaged in Syria and Iran, and accusing the American president of "leading from behind" in matters of foreign policy. Former Secretary of State and former National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, who served in the administration of former President George W. Bush, also took the stage to laud the Republican ticket, declaring: "Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will rebuild us at home and inspire us to lead abroad. They will provide an answer to the question, where does America stand?"

    The highlight of the night was Ryan's acceptance speech for the vice presidential nomination and his entree onto the national stage. Ryan's well-delivered outline of a Romney-Ryan agenda was an elegant exercise in rhetoric; however, as reported by Fox News, in addition to being "dazzling" in its presentation, it was simultaneously "distracting" and "deceiving" in its attention to facts. Likewise, as stated by the Associated Press, "he [Ryan] took some factual shortcuts" when he attacked President Barack Obama's policies on matters such as Medicare and the budget deficit.

    To these ends, Ryan -- whose own reputation was forged on a budget that included measures to change the popular Medicare program into a privatized voucher system -- was now dubiously accusing the president of "raiding" Medicare. At issue was $716 billion in Medicare savings that Ryan said was funneled out of Medicare by the president, but which was actually extracted from insurance company giveaways and not Medicare itself. Ryan also blamed the president for the country's loss of its Triple A credit rating by Standard & Poor's in 2011, without any reference to the fact that the credit ratings agency action was caused by House Republicans' refusal to work with the president on raising the debt ceiling. Underscoring that point was Standard & Poor's own statement that its downgrade was "because the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues." Also left aside was Ryan's own contention at the time that creditors would forgive default for “a day or two or three or four” as long as Democrats ultimately agreed to Republican demands. Along similar lines, Ryan chastised President Obama for failing to act on the so-called Bowles-Simpson Debt Commission aimed at addressing the country's rising debt. Left entirely out of the equation was the fact that Ryan sat on that very commission and Ryan himself voted against its provisions. Perhaps most audaciously, Ryan blamed President Obama for the closure of an auto plant in his own hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin, when the plant closure actually occurred when George W. Bush was president. The veracity of Ryan's claims notwithstanding, his speech was extremely well-received in the convention hall filled with enthusiastic Republicans.

    On Aug. 30, 2012, it was Romney's turn in the limelight as he officially accepted his party's nomination for president. Romney's acceptance speech constituted the climax of the Republican National Convention, as he accused President Barack Obama of failing to deliver on promises made four year prior and declared: "The time has come to turn the page." He continued, "Today the time has come for us to put the disappointments of the last four years behind us." Romney promised "to restore the promise of America." His speech contained personal anecdotes regarding his parents, his marriage, his family, and his Mormon religion, which undoubtedly would go far to soften his image. His main promise was to create 12 million jobs over the next four years, help the economy rebound, and reduce the deficit. Romney said he would achieve these ends by making the country energy independent by 2020 -- a lofty endeavor given his pledge to create 12 million jobs four years sooner than that 2020 time horizon. As before, Romney promised to completely dismantle President Obama's signature domestic policy achievement -- health care -- without acknowledging that the Affordable Care Act was based on Romney's own health care program. That program was instituted when he was governor of Massachusetts. On foreign policy, Romney appeared to be following the Bush administration's neoconservative philosophy and muscular orientation towards the rest of the world. He excoriated President Obama for being too conciliatory to Iran, and promised to take a hard line with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Whatever their previous doubts were about Romney's conservative credentials, Republicans' warm reception in the hall appeared to show that he was now enjoying the full embrace of the Republican Party.

    Romney was preceded on stage by Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood and rising Republican star, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. Rubio offered a passionate and personal account of his belief in hard work and accomplishment, in what could well be seen as a vision of American values. Eastwood offered his support for Romney by enacting a bizarre piece of performance art in which he carried on a conversation with an imaginary Obama, denoted by an empty chair. The Obama campaign responded by releasing a picture of the back of the president in his chair at the Oval Office with the words: "This seat is taken." All expectations were that this strange contretemps might detract from the attention being paid to Romney's speech. Nevertheless, the Romney camp rated their candidate's performance as "A+" and promised a significant bump in the polls as a result. That promise, it should be noted, never materialized as polling data showed Romney's standing unchanged in the week after his party's convention.

    For more information about the 2012 Republican National Convention, see URL: http://www.gopconvention2012.com/

    President Obama receives his party's nomination for president at 2012 Democratic National Convention in North Carolina

    Democratic delegates convened at their party's national convention. In 2012, the Democratic National Convention would take place in Charlotte, North Carolina, from Sept. 3, 2012 to Sept. 6, 2012.

    Typically, the Democratic gathering marks the official end of a presidential primary season, the formal nomination of the party's candidate for president, and the commencement of the full-blown campaign for a general election. Another purpose for the convocation is to adopt the party platform -- effectively, a statement of the party's core principles. The differences between the two parties can be illuminated clearly via an examination of the party's platforms. The Republican Party's conservative plank from social issues to "trickle-down" economic ideology would be a contrast to the progressive social agenda and Keynesian economic philosophy of the Democratic Party. The 2012 presidential election would offer a clear choice for voters between the Republican and Democratic candidates respectively.

    The 2012 Democratic National Convention was set to begin with a Labor Day social festival in Charlotte on Sept. 3, 2012, followed by two days of convention activities at the Time Warner Cable Arena from Sept. 4, 2012 to Sept. 5, 2012. The last night of the Democratic National Convention -- Sept. 6, 2012 -- would be held at Bank of America Stadium, where the Democratic nominee for president, President Barack Obama -- would offer his acceptance speech. This address would be the culmination of the 2012 Democratic National Convention and a ratification of the incumbent president as the Democratic presidential nominee.

    Other points of interest would be the addresses of First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden. As well, there would be a keynote speech by the 42nd President of the United States -- Bill Clinton -- who would also have the task of formally nominating President Obama as the party's candidate in the 2012 contest. Other speakers include: Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, as well as Los Angeles Mayor and Democratic Convention Chair, Antonio Villaraigosa. Former President Jimmy Carter would not be in attendance although he was set to address the gathering by videotape.On the first night of the Democratic National Convention, rousing partisan speeches were give by former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Mitt Romney's successor. Gov. Patrick asserted: "In Massachusetts we know Mitt Romney. When he left office [we] were 47th in the nation in job creation." Following along the job creation path, Gov. Patrick noted that President Obama, in three and a half years, created more private sector jobs than George W. Bush created in eight years. Former Strickland was no less biting; he said: "Barack Obama saved the auto industry. Mitt Romney saved on his taxes."

    Other important addresses were offered by Lily Ledbetter, the inspiration for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that provides equal pay for equal work; Tammy Duckworth, an military veteran of the Iraq war who lost both her legs when the aircraft she was flying was brought down with enemy fire; and Stacy Lihn -- a mother's whose daughter was born with a congenital heart defect, and who was benefiting from the president's health care program.

    Julian Castro, Mayor of San Antonio and the first Latino to give a keynote convention address, cast a picture of his family's immigrant roots and the achievement of the so-called American dream. He said, "My family's story isn't special. What's special is the America that makes our story possible."

    The apex of the night came with remarks by First Lady Michelle Obama. In a passionate and personal exposition of her husband, Michelle Obama drew a picture of a Barack Obama as a man guided by intrinsic values that have remained intact even as he won the presidency. She said, "As president, you can get all kinds of advice from all kinds of people. But at the end of the day, when it comes time to make that decision, as president, all you have to guide you are your values and your vision and the life experiences that make you who you are." She noted that her husband remained driven by the same ideals of years gone past saying, "He's the same man who started his career by turning down high-paying jobs and instead working in struggling neighborhoods where a steel plant had shut down, fighting to rebuild those communities."

    On the second night of the Democratic gathering, key speakers included automobile workers who expressed thanks to the Obama-Biden administration for saving their industry. Also offering speeches was Senate candidate, Elizabeth Warren, who excoriated Mitt Romney's phrase that "corporations are people," by pointing out that real human beings have been affected by the lack of financial regulations on Wall Street and structural inequality.

    The highlight of the night was former President Bill Clinton, who offered a fulsome endorsement of President Barack Obama, officially nominating the incumbent president for a second term in the White House. In his 50-minute speech that went significantly off-script, former President Clinton used "arithmetic" to further argue that Democratic presidents have overseen the creation of almost double the number of jobs as Republican presidents since 1961. "What's the job score? Republicans, 24 million; Democrats, 42 [million]," said Clinton. A lion's share of the speech could well be dubbed "the grand rebuttal" in which former President Clinton dismantled the Romney-Ryan's arguments against President Obama point by point. He blamed Republicans for blocking avenues to economic recovery and referred to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell's declaration that the number one priority of Republicans was not American jobs, but to put President Obama out of a job. He disparaged Paul Ryan's claim that the president raided Medicare funding, noting that the Ryan budget specifies the same savings. To this end, he said: "It takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did." Former President Clinton also countered Republican claims that President Obama weakened the work requirement for welfare. "When some Republican governors asked to try new ways to put people on welfare back to work, the Obama administration said they would only do it if they had a credible plan to increase employment by 20 percent," said Clinton. At the conclusion of his speech, which both conservative and liberal media pundits admitted was a tour de force, former President Clinton was joined on stage by President Obama.

    Next up: President Obama and Vice President Biden were set to accept the Democratic Party's nomination for president and vice president respectively. It should be noted that convention organizers had to change the venue for the night's events from Bank of America stadium due to inclement weather.

    Vice President Biden's acceptance speech for his nomination emphasized his view of the president as a steadfast fighter of the people. Of President Obama, Biden said: "Folks, I've watched him. He never wavers. He steps up. He asks the same thing over and over again: How is this going to work for ordinary families? Will it help them?" Biden employed the language of the working class, which had currency at this socio-economic moment in history, noting that President Obama understood that jobs were not only economic indicators, but also a means of human dignity. Vice President Biden praised President Obama for rescuing automobile industry and ordering the elimination of Osama Bin Laden, bringing Democrats in the hall to their feet with his familiar refrain: Osama Bin Laden in dead and General Motors is alive!"

    The highlight of the evening came when President Obama took the stage to accept the Democratic nomination for a second term as president. President Obama said that voters faced a generational choice in forthcoming election, asserting, "But when you pick up that ballot to vote -- you will face the clearest choice of any time in a generation." He went further in suggesting that the choice would determine the kind of America within which people would live. To that end, the president noted, "Over the next few years, big decisions will be made in Washington: on jobs and the economy; taxes and deficits; energy and education; war and peace - decisions that will have a huge impact on our lives and our children's lives for decades to come." With an eye on blunting the Republican argument that his policies have not improved the United States economy, President Obama argued: "I never said this journey would be easy, and I won't promise that now." Instead, the president reminded Americans that he said he would tell them the truth. President Obama declared: "America, I never said this journey would be easy, and I won’t promise that now. Yes, our path is harder – but it leads to a better place. Yes our road is longer – but we travel it together. We don’t turn back. We leave no one behind."

    Of course, President Obama did not waste the opportunity to blast the policies of the Republican Party or his rival for the White House. Seizing on the Republican embrace of tax cuts for the wealthiest in the nation, he said sardonically, "That's because all they have to offer is the same prescription they've had for the last 30 years. Have a surplus? Try a tax cut. Deficit too high? Try another. Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations, and call us in the morning!" Foreign policy was also not left out of the equation. The Commander in Chief -- unlike his rival --made sure to thank United States troops for serving their country. He also excoriated his rival's knowledge of the realm of international relations saying, "My opponent and his running mate are new to foreign policy, but from all that we’ve seen and heard, they want to take us back to an era of blustering and blundering that cost America so dearly. After all, you don’t call Russia our number one enemy – and not al -Qaida – unless you’re still stuck in a Cold War time warp. You might not be ready for diplomacy with Beijing if you can’t visit the Olympics without insulting our closest ally. "

    While his speech could not be compared to the soaring rhetoric of the 2008 convention in Denver when Barack Obama aspired to be president, four years later, he noted that he had been changed by the events in the intervening years in which he has stood as president. With an important reference point to the term "citizenship," President Obama was making the case that the American people were more than individual profit seekers and business entrepreneurs, but members of the American nation state.

    It was yet to be seen if this argument would resonate with the American voters, or, if Romney's pro-business prescription for the nation would win out. There was little doubt that the less than stellar jobs report the day after the convention, which would not help President Obama's case. Specifically, there was a lackluster addition of 96,000 jobs although the unemployment rate dropped to 8.1 percent.

    For more information about the 2012 Democratic National Convention, see URL: http://www.demconvention.com/

    The "47 percent" Controversy

    In September 2012, Mother Jones magazine released secretly recorded comments by Mitt Romney at a private fundraising event in which he claimed 47 percent of Americans -- almost half the country -- paid no federal income taxes, were too dependent on government, and believed they were "entitled" to government assistance.

    Romney was heard in the recordings describing these people as follows:

    "There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what."

    The disclosure raised the ire of people across the United States who were incensed at being cast as burdens on society, and further, being disregarded by Romney, who characterized them as guaranteed Obama voters whom he could not reach. In the days after this controversy emerged, pressure was on Romney to minimize the political damage of these remarks. But in an interview on Fox News, Romney chose to embrace the substance of his "47 percent" commentary. He insisted that his philosophy, which was markedly different from President Obama's, constituted an opportunity for the American people to consider. Romney said: “The president’s view is one of a larger government; I disagree. I think a society based on a government-centered nation where government plays a larger and larger role, redistributes money, that’s the wrong course for America.” Romney explained that his remarks, while "inelegant" offered an opportunity for a national debate on dependency, entitlements, and what he said was President Obama’s support for “redistributionist” policies.

    While some Republicans lauded Romney for standing by his comments on taxes and entitlements -- themes that echoed the budget proposals and orientation of his running mate, Paul Ryan, other political analysts worried about the potential political damage. It could certainly cement the public's perception that President Obama was a better advocate for the middle class. In an appearance on “Late Show” with David Letterman, President Obama took advantage of the public's attention to note that Romney was “writing off a big chunk of the country” in his characterization of the so-called "47 percent." Further, President Obama observed that he would not “suggest that because someone doesn’t agree with me that they’re victims or they’re unpatriotic.”

    The Presidential Debates

    As the 2012 presidential election campaign season entered its final stage, President Barack Obama was set to face off with the Republican presidential nominee, Governor Mitt Romney, for a series of presidential debates. With polls showing a competitive race at the national level, but with President Obama enjoying clear advantage in the battleground states, the debates were widely viewed as Romney's last chance to persuade the few remaining undecided voters to cast their ballots in the Republican column. Also facing off in a debate would be Vice President Joseph Biden and the Republican vice presidential nominee Congressman Paul Ryan.

    Debate 1 was scheduled to take place on Oct. 3, 2012, at the University of Denver in Colorado between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. The debate would focus on domestic policy and be divided into six time segments of approximately 15 minutes each on topics to be selected by moderator Jim Lehrer, the host of NewsHour on PBS.

    Debate 2 was scheduled to take place on Oct. 16, 2012, at Hofstra University in New York between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. The second presidential debate was to be of the "town hall" format and include both foreign and domestic policy. Candidates would have two minutes to respond to questions, and an additional minute for the moderator to facilitate a discussion. The town meeting participants would be undecided voters selected by the Gallup Organization. The debate was to be moderated by Candy Crowley, the chief political correspondent on CNN.

    Debate 3 was scheduled to take place on Oct. 22, 2012, at Lynn University in Florida between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. The debate would focus on foreign policy and be divided into six time segments of approximately 15 minutes each on topics to be selected by the moderator. The debate was to be moderated by Bob Schieffer, the host of Face the Nation on CBS.

    The lone vice presidential debate was set to take place on Oct. 11. 2012, at Centre College in Kentucky between Vice President Joseph Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan. The debate would focus on both foreign and domestic topics, and would be divided into nine time segments of approximately 10 minutes each. The moderator would pose an opening question, after which each candidate would have two minutes to respond. The moderator would use the balance of the time in the segment for a discussion of the question. The debate was to be moderated by Martha Raddatz , the chief foreign correspondent for ABC News.

    It should be noted that the presidential debates are, as always, sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

    Ahead of the first presidential debate set for Oct. 3, 2012, both the Obama campaign and the Romney campaign were to some extent lowering expectations of their candidates' performance. Still, the Romney campaign was signaling that the showdown with President Obama was likely to be a game-changer of sorts, presumably to the advantage of Romney. Anonymous surrogates were leaking stories to the news media about the fact that Romney was practicing verbal "zingers" to be deployed against President Obama, effectively aimed at undermining his [Obama's] confidence. According to the New York Times, the Romney team has decided that the debates would be about "creating moments." Romney has, therefore, memorized a series of "zingers" to achieve these ends.

    Some high level surrogates were willing to make their predictions on the record with Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey and Senator John McCain expressing easy confidence that Romney would dispense with President Obama handily in the first face to face debate in Denver. On CBS News, Christie said: "We have a candidate who is going to do extraordinarily well." He continued, "This whole race is going to be turned upside down come Thursday morning." On CNN, McCain noted that Romney, rather than Obama, had more debate experience due to the nomination process. He said: "I think you could argue that Mitt has had a lot more recent experience, obviously."

    Speaking on ABC News, President Obama's political adviser, David Plouffe, seemed to agree with McCain. Plouffe pointed to the more than 20 debates in which Romney participated during the Republican presidential primary saying: "He's [Romney] prepared more than any candidate I think maybe in history, certainly in recent memory."

    Regarding Romney's practice of "zingers," the Obama camp indicated that the president would not be pursuing such a course. Jen Psaki, a spokesperson for the Obama campaign said: "We also saw in reports that Mitt Romney and his team have been working on zingers and special lines for months. That's not what the President's focus is on. So if you're expecting that, that's probably not what he's going to deliver on." As reported by Yahoo News, Psaki said of the president, "He [Obama] wants to speak directly to the families -- the people who are on their couches at home, having snacks, drinking a beer, drinking soda, whatever it is, and tuning in for the first time -- and that's who he's speaking directly to."

    In fact, when the two presidential contenders met for their first showdown, the focus was not so much on "zingers" as it was between the perception that Romney had turned in a strong debate effort compared to President Obama's lackluster performance. Romney aggressively attacked President Obama on the economy, unemployment, and health care. For his part, the president tried to put pressure on Romney by drawing attention to the Republican nominee's often-repeated tax cut program that would cost $5 trillion. But he was unable to gain satisfaction from that attack since Romney eschewed that such a plan even existed, irrespective of the record to the contrary. It was clear that the president was unable to effectively dismantle the veracity of Romney's denial. Also at issue was Romney's plan to increase the military budget, while reducing the debt, simply by making cuts to public broadcasting. One of the so-called "moments" of the night came when Romney said that he liked both the Sesame Street character, Big Bird, and the moderator, Lehrer, both of whom are featured on the public broadcasting channel, but that he would completely cut funding to that outfit.

    Policy aside, Romney displayed confidence and delivered his argument with a mixture of crispness and aggression, often rendering the moderator, Lehrer, irrelevant in so doing. By contrast, Obama often made his points with a hesitant and halting delivery, and seemed to simply offer a condensed and less inspiring version of his stump speech in the debate hall. It should be noted that the debate attracted more than 67 million viewers, thus offering Romney a wide audience as witnesses to his solid execution.

    Post-debate polls gave the clear win to Romney over the president, who missed repeated opportunities to challenge Romney's assertions. It was left to the media fact checkers the day after the debate to set the record straight. Specifically, Romney has called for cutting income tax rates by 20 percent for people at all income levels, repealing the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax, and removing capital gains taxes for middle-class families. Budget analysts have concluded that these cuts would, in fact, reduce tax revenue by as much as $5 trillion over the course of the next decade. Meanwhile, it was social media in the form of Twitter and Facebook, that took up the issue of cuts to public broadcasting. Couched in humorous references to the killing of Big Bird, the discussion was about the impossibility of mathematically squaring increased military spending with cuts to public broadcasting.

    The credibility of Romney's claims aside, the fact of the matter was that he had clearly benefited from a masterful debate performance and was expected to benefit in the forthcoming polls. President Obama, who was leading both national and battleground states in polling, was expected to see erosion. In fact, in the days after the debate, the polls did show marked tightening both at the national level and in the swing states. Thus, after Round One of the debates, the presidential race was an open contest with either candidate within striking distance of victory.

    For his part, President Obama seemed to experience an overnight recovery. Back on the stump the day after the debate, he was challenging Romney on his essential honesty, and humorously suggesting that a different Mitt Romney had appeared at the first debate -- one divorced from his own known record, and one without a grasp of facts. Nevertheless, it was the Romney camp who was celebrating in the first week of October 2012. Romney had prevailed after a series of problems, including the infamous "47 percent" secret video in which he disparaged almost half the country as entitled, non-productive members of society; in fact, the Romney campaign was arguably in the driver's seat with a reinvigorated intensity, marked by the possibility of pulling off victory.

    The cheering and celebration from the Romney camp went on for a few days but came to a stop on Oct. 5, 2012, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its monthly report showing that the United States added 114,000 jobs in September and that the unemployment rate fell below eight percent to 7.8 percent -- the lowest since President Obama’s first month in office.

    Coming after President Obama's disastrous debate performance, and only a month before the presidential election, the jobs report offered a boost to the man seeking re-election. Meanwhile, the central purpose of Romney's candidacy -- the economy -- was somewhat undermined by this good news. Indeed, now the president could argue with some credibility that he oversaw 24 straight months of job growth in the aftermath of the country's most severe financial crisis in modern times.

    On Oct. 11, 2012, Joe Biden and Paul Ryan clashed in the vice presidential debate on every issue from taxes, health care, the social safety net and economic growth, to national security, and foreign policy. Biden was the precise opposite of Obama in terms of demeanor and even on substance in his debate on behalf of the Democrats. He offered a blistering attack on the Romney-Ryan ticket, marked by aggression, and no shortage of theatrical body language. Ryan's demeanor in this debate was in contrast to Romney a week before; he was restrained, tempered and even diffident at times. Still, Ryan went after the Obama administration's handling of the terror attack on the United States embassy in Libya on Sept. 11, 2012. On the other hand, Biden pressed Ryan on the Romney-Ryan policy for dealing with Iran, even asking outright if they favored going to war. One of the main battles in their debate was over Medicare where Ryan defended his plan to privatize Medicare, and Biden challenged him on the feasibility or desirability of transforming guaranteed benefits to a voucher program. Biden's sharpest attack came when he challenged Romney on his comments that 47 percent of Americans pay no federal income tax, are dependent on government, and consider themselves victims. But Ryan got his own jabs in by suggesting that the vice president had his own record of verbal gaffes. Another such moment came when Ryan attacked the Obama administration for their economic stimulus program, but Biden countered by pointing out that Ryan himself solicited stimulus funds for Wisconsin, precisely because of the economic benefits of the program.

    In the end, most analysts agreed that the base of both parties would be respectively pleased with the performance of their vice presidential candidates. That said, all the reports the day after the debate focused on Biden's aggressive and fulsome defense of the Obama administration. Polling data suggested that Biden's performance may have helped to stop the erosion of support for the president that was ongoing since the first presidential debate. Still, the race remained tight headed into the second presidential debate.

    That second debate presidential debate at Hofstra University was a complete reversal of the "Round One" encounter between President Obama and Mitt Romney in Denver. This "town hall" debate saw an aggressive Obama launch assault after assault on his Republican challenger in the town hall style encounter, where both men took questions from undecided voters in the audience.

    In terms of style, this debate was characterized by the physicality of the encounters between the two men as they roamed the carpeted stage, sometimes circling each other, invading each other's personal space, and frequently interrupting each other. The moderator, Candy Crowley, was forced to ask Romney to take his seat at times.

    In terms of substance, based on the questions from undecided voters, the candidates responded to a number of issues from immigration and gun control to debt and tax policies that benefit the wealthy, as well as the Bush legacy from the previous administration. There was also a question on gender pay equity. In response, the president asserted his credentials by noting that the first piece of legislation he signed was the "Lily Ledbetter" bill mandating equal pay for equal work for men and women. Romney did not address the question directly, and instead said that, as governor of Massachusetts, he affirmed the notion of work place flexibility for women -- like his chief of staff -- who needed to get home early to cook dinner. In an awkward turn of phrase, he also said that he solicited "binders of women" in order to consider more women for placement in his cabinet.

    The dramatic apex of the showdown occurred in response to a voter's question on the subject of Libya and foreign policy. The Republican candidate attempted to draw President Obama into a contretemps over the administration's handling of the terror attack in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, which left Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead. Romney suggested that the president waited two weeks before characterizing the incident as a terror attack, saying, "It took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror." But President Obama was sanguine in his knowledge that he had, on the day after the attack, promised in a speech from the White House Rose Garden the following: "No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation." Romney seemed unwilling to let go of his confidence in the two week timeline and had to be "fact checked" by the moderator, Crowley, who confirmed that the president had indeed called the attack "an act of terror" on Sept. 12, 2012. President Obama also angrily rebuked Romney for the suggestion that the administration tried to mislead the public about the nature of the attack in Libya. He declared to the Republican nominee: "And the suggestion that anybody in my team, whether the Secretary of State, our U.N. Ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we've lost four of our own, governor, is offensive. That's not what we do. That's not what I do as president, that's not what I do as Commander in Chief."

    Post-debate polls gave the clear win to the president over Romney, who was now dealing with negative attention over his handling of the Libya question. For the president, his debate performance in "Round Two" was sure to calm the fears of his Democratic base although it was yet to be seen if it would result in a lift in the polls. For Romney, although his engagement on Libya was deemed highly problematic by observers, he had the satisfaction of knowing he had won the first round, which put him in a competitive position -- both in terms of perception and in the polls -- headed into the third presidential debate with President Obama.

    In the third and final debate in Boca Raton, Florida, President Obama was on the offensive as he characterized his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, as being "all over the map" in matters of foreign policy. This was an apparent reference to Romney's sudden shift from a hard-right neo-conservative orientation to a more moderate stance -- one more in line with President Obama's established foreign policy.

    Romney issued his own challenges of the president's record, suggesting that Obama was not up to the task of dealing with the "tumult" and "chaos" unfolding in the Middle East. Offering a glimpse of his own proposed foreign policy, Romney said in reference to the Middle East: "We can't kill our way out of this mess. We're going to have to put in place a very comprehensive and robust strategy to help the ... world of Islam and other parts of the world reject this radical violent extremism, which certainly [is] not on the run."

    But it was the president who dominated the showdown, drawing upon the example of Romney's support for the Iraq war to declare in unambiguous terms: "I know you haven't been in a position to actually execute foreign policy -- but every time you've offered an opinion, you've been wrong."

    In another exchange, Romney decried the president's defense expenditure plan, saying that the United States Navy would suffer with fewer ships. But the president had a pithy rejoinder as he quipped: "Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines."

    Romney criticized President Obama for his so-called "apology tour" in the Middle East, which he said projected weakness in the international sphere. Romney said: "The president began what I've called an apology tour of going to nations in the Middle East and criticizing America. I think they looked at that and saw weakness." Romney also suggested that relations with Israel were frayed because Obama did not travel to that country after becoming president. Obama responded by noting that as a candidate, he traveled to Israel, not for fund-raising purposes, as was the case for Romney, but instead to experience Israel's struggles. President Obama said: "When I went to Israel as a candidate, I didn't take donors. I didn't attend fundraisers. I went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum there, to remind myself of the nature of evil and why our bond with Israel will be unbreakable."

    Debate watchers gave the clear win to Obama over Romney in instant post-showdown polls. Whether or not this impression would actually translate into a boost for the president, or, if Romney passed the "commander-in-chief" threshold, thus providing the imprimatur for the few remaining undecided voters to select the challenger on election day.

    Projections for the Presidential General Election:

    For a candidate to win the presidency in the United States, he or she must carry at least 270 electoral votes (EVs) of a total of 538 EVs. In order to understand the pathway to that 207 EV victory, it is important to have a sense of the electoral landscape.

    For purposes of clarity and ease, the "electoral math" in the United States' presidential contest is going to be divided into three categories: (1) Democratic "blue base states" that have been won in the last three elections by this party's nominee (Gore in 2000, Kerry in 2004, and Obama in 2008); (2) the Republican "red base states" that have been won by this party's nominee (Bush in 2000 and 2004, and McCain in 2008); and the so-called "swing state" that have moved from one camp to another and remain in the so-called "purple toss up" terrain.

    1. Democratic "blue base states" --

    California (55), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3) District of Columbia (3), Hawaii (4), Illinois (20), Maine (4), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (11), Minnesota (10), New Jersey (14), New York (29), Oregon (7), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), Washington (12)

    Democratic-leaning, blue-hued states that must be held (but possess inherent vulnerabilities) include --

    Michigan (16), Pennsylvania (20), Wisconsin (10)

    Assuming the trend continues and President Obama holds these traditional blue states, including the three most difficult one, he would begin with a baseline of 242 EVs.

    2. Republican "red base states"--

    Alabama (9 EVs), Alaska (3), Arkansas (6), Idaho (4), Kansas (6), Kentucky (8), Louisiana (8), Mississippi (6), Montana (3) Nebraska (5*), North Dakota (3), Oklahoma (7), South Carolina (9), South Dakota (3), Tennessee (11), Texas (38), Utah (6), West Virginia (5), Wyoming (3)

    Republican-leaning "reddish: states that must be held (but possess inherent vulnerabilities) include --

    Arizona (11), Georgia (16)

    Assuming the trend continues and the Republican nominee holds these traditional red states, including the two most difficult, and he would begin with a baseline of 170 EVs.

    *One word on Nebraska, which awards its EVs on a proportioned basis. In 2008, Barack Obama was able to win one of those EVs in the metropolis constituency of that state. It is considered unlikely that he would repeat that performance in 2012, however, it bears watching.

    3. The swing states or "purple toss up states" --

    Colorado (9 EVs), Florida (29), Indiana (11), Iowa (6), Missouri (10), Nevada (6), New Hampshire (4), New Mexico (5), North Carolina (15), Ohio (18), Virginia (13)

    In total, these swing states offer 126 EVs. Obviously, a presidential contender would have to cobble together a coalition of some of these states to build on their base totals to get to 270 EVs and victory.

    The quasi-landslide EV victory for President Obama in 2008 notwithstanding, the path to 270 EVs in 2012 would be more difficult. The political landscape aside (economic and political challenges, foreign policy dangers etc.), on a practical level, there has been a re-apportioning of EVs in several Democratic-leaning states in the aftermath of the recent census. Accordingly, Republicans would benefit from additional EVs in "safe" Republican states like Texas, while Democrats would lose EVs in states like blue base states like Massachusetts.

    With that said, President Obama nonetheless starts off with an EV advantage as compared with the Republican nominee. Assuming he holds the most difficult Democratic-leaning states (the rust belt states of Michigan and Pennsylvania, as well as Wisconsin), President Obama would have 242 EVs and need only 28 additional EVs to get to 270.

    The most obvious pathway for the president would be to hold New Hampshire (which was narrowly lost by Gore in 2000, narrowly won by Kerry in 2004, and secured by Obama in 2008) and its 4 EVs, add Iowa (which was won by Gore in 2000, shifted to Bush in 2004, and reverted to Obama in 2008) and its 6 EVs. This would take Obama to 252 EVs. He would then go after what is called the "Western Firewall" and try to recapture the three states he won decisively in 2008 that are part of the new Obama coalition -- Colorado (9), Nevada (6), and New Mexico (5) -- for a total of 272 EVs. Polling data shows the president posting leads (albeit diminishing leads) in all of these states. It should be noted that the president's pathway to victory in this regard could be compromised by New Hampshire where Romney has a home; recent polling data shows that the president maintains a slim lead in this state but with Romney sporadically surging to a dead heat with him. It could also be compromise by the loss of Iowa, where the race was turning precariously close for the president as Romney nipped at his heels in this state in mid-2012.

    Another pathway would be to grab some combination of the usual battleground states. The ultra-traditional swing states include Florida (29) and Ohio (18). While the president has been posting competitive polling numbers in both states, both Florida and Ohio have a history of heartbreak for Democratic contenders in the recent past, and will be at the top of the Republican nominee's "hit list" in 2012. No doubt a vice presidential selection from one of these states could increase the possibility that these states -- which were won by Bush in 2000 and 2004, by Obama in 2008 – return to the Republican column in 2012.

    One alternate option is North Carolina, which was narrowly won in 2008. Some pundits believe that this state is out of reach for the president in 2012; however, with the Democratic National Convention scheduled to take place here, there was hope that a strong campaign could secure North Carolina's 15 EVs for the president. The other alternative is Virginia, which was won a bit more decisively than North Carolina in 2008 by the president. No doubt President Obama was banking on those 13 EVs from Virginia... And no doubt the Republican nominee would consider putting the Republican governor of the state of Virginia on the presidential ticket as a way of securing this state for the red team. Both Virginia and North Carolina are generally regarded as "new Obama coalition states," which he will have to work hard to secure in 2012.

    Of the swing states listed above, both Indiana (which narrowly went for Obama in 2008) and Missouri (which narrowly went for McCain in 2008) are respectively regarded as out of reach for President Obama in 2012, as discussed below.

    It should be noted that the Republican nominee would have 170 EVs to start off and would need a full 100 more EVs to get to 270. Still, the conventional wisdom has been that despite having been narrowly won by President Obama in 2008, Indiana's 11 EVs will likely return to the Republican column in 2012 due to current political trends. So with Indiana factored into the equation for a total of 181, the Republican would therefore need to garner an additional 89 EVs. Missouri has gone narrowly Republican in the last three successive elections, so there is good reason to believe that 2012 would spell a similar fate. Add another 10 EVs to the Republican nominee's tally for 191 EVs.

    As noted above, Florida (29) and Ohio (18) would be high value targets for the Republicans in 2012, but even if those two states went into the "red" column, the Republican nominee would still be markedly short of 270 EVs. That would mean the Republican nominee would also have to look at returning the likes of North Carolina (15), Virginia (13), and Iowa (6) to Republican hands. Stated differently, for the Republican nominee to win, he would have to secure every swing state listed above, save the so-called "Western Firewall."

    Polling Summary (from the time of the conventions onward)

    As the Republican and Democratic conventions came to a close, several polls were released with a fairly uniform result: President Obama was enjoying a boost and was leading the presidential race. A new CNN/Opinion Research placed President Obama ahead of Romney in both its likely voter and registered voter models (52-46 LV; 53-45 RV); Fox News showed similar results with the president defeating Romney in both models (48-43 LV; 46-42 RV); Democracy Corps gave President Obama a five point lead over Romney (50-45). ABC/Washington Post gave the president the lead more modestly in the likely voter model and more robustly in the registered voter model (49-48 LV; 50-44 RV); PPP and YouGov respectively showed President Obama defeating Romney by healthy margins (50-44; 49-45). IBD/TIPP had a closer race with Obama defeating Romney by two points (46-44). Langer Research for Esquire/Yahoo! entered the polling pre-election extravaganza with Obama defeating Romney as follows -- 50-46 LV; 52-41 RV.

    In the third week of September 2012, the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed little difference in its registered and likely voter models with President Obama defeating Romney by about a five point margin (50-45 LV; 50-44 RV). PPP for Daily Kos/SEIU showed a similar result with Obama beating Romney by four percentage points (50-46). The Associated Press/GfK showed divergence in their models with president in tight race with Romney in its likely voter model and decisively ahead in its registered voter model (47-46 LV; 50-40 RV).

    As September entered its final week, GWU/Battleground for Politico gave Obama a slim lead over Romney (50-47); UPI/CVoter had a similarly slim margin of victory for Obama (49-46). PPP for Daily Kos/SEIU gave President Obama a clearer five point lead over Romney (50-45). The Pew Institute in the same relative period also showed little difference between its models as it had President Obama handily defeating Romney by decisive margins (51-43 LV; 51-42 RV). Fox News showed only modest divergence between its two models and had President Obama defeating Romney (48-43 LV; 49-41 RV). As September 2012 drew to a close, Selzer for Bloomberg gave President Obama a six point lead over Romney (49-43). It was apparent at that time that even if the post-convention bumps were subsiding, President Obama was benefiting from his ability to connect with middle class voters while Romney was trying to minimize the damage of his "47 percent" remarks at a fundraiser where he claimed almost half the country was too dependent on government and believed they were "entitled" to government assistance.

    The small advantage for Obama continued at the start of October 2012 with the following national polling showing the president ahead of Romney: Rasmussen's rolling tracker (50-47); Gallup's rolling tracker (49-45); Ipsos/Reuters Tracking: (46-41 LV and 45-40 RV); UPI/CVoter Tracking (49-46); GWU/Battleground for Politico (49-47); CNN/Opinion Research (50-47 LV and 50-46 RV); ABC News/Washington Post (49-47 LV and 49-44 RV); NBC/Wall St Journal (49-46 LV and 51-44 RV); Quinnipiac (49-45); PPP for Daily Kos/SEIU (49-45).

    But after the first debate on Oct. 3, 2012, the polls appeared to show a definite bounce for Romney. The conventional wisdom was that Romney decisively won the debate, potentially opening up the presidential race against President Obama who turned in a poor performance. That view was translating into a shift nationally and in the battleground states (as discussed below).

    At the national level in the days after the first presidential debate, Romney was now moving into a lead with the president trailing (49-47), according to Rasmussen. Although the president held onto a lead, according to Gallup (49-46), it was apparent that Obama was suffering appreciable erosion in his numbers. Ipsos-Reuters showed a similar trend as Gallup with the president now ahead only slightly (47-45). Since these were rolling trackers, there was room to suggest that Obama would likely suffer a further decline unless the good economic news helped to stem the bleeding. To that end, by the second week of October after news broke that the unemployment rate had dropped to below eight percent, Rasmussen and Gallup showed Obama recovering slightly with the former showing the two candidates tied (48-48) and the latter showing Obama ahead (50-45). On Oct. 12, 2012, the race was a dead heat of sorts. Rasmussen showed Romney leading Obama (48-47), Gallup showed Romney ahead in its newly-released likely voter model (49-47 LV) but Obama ahead among registered voters (48-46). Ipsos/Reuters showed a similar result with Romney in the lead among likely voters (46-45 LV) and Obama in the lead among registered voters (45-42).

    Meanwhile, the Pew Institute released their poll that captured the period after the debate showing Romney ahead in their likely voter model and tied in their registered voter model (49-45 LV and 46-46 RV). Also in the second week of October, PPP was showing a Romney lead (49-47). Fox News in the same period had Romney ahead in their likely voter model (46-45) but Obama ahead in the registered voter model (46-44).

    By mid-October 2012, momentum appeared to be with Romney, according to two of the three trackers. Rasmussen showed Romney hovering around the 49 percent range, and the president trailing around the 47 percent range. Gallup showed far more acute pro-Romney movement as the Republican nominee moved from a slight lead of couple percentage points to a very robust six point advantage in its likely voter model (51-45); the registered voter model showed a smaller lead for Romney (48-46). Ipsos/Reuters tracking showed movement for the president with Obama leading Romney in the likely voter model (47-44), as well as the registered voter model (46-40).

    This mid-October 2012 period registered contradictory polling results from non-tracking pollsters. PPP for Daily Kos/SEIU gave Romney the lead (50-46) over the president. Meanwhile, ARG showed a dead heat with Romney a single point ahead of Obama (48-47). YouGov showed the opposite of ARG in its likely voter model with Obama one point ahead of Romney (47-46); YouGov's registered voter model had Obama in the lead (48-43). ABC/Washington Post showed similar results with Obama leading Romney (49-46 LV; 50-43 RV). NBC/Wall Street JOurnal poll showed a tied race in its likely voter model and an Obama lead in the registered voter model (47-47 LV, 49-44R RV).

    As October 2012 moved into its final week and with only one week to go until election day, Rasmussen continued to show a lead for Romney in its tracking poll with the Republican garnering about 49 percent and President Obama carrying about 47 percent. As before, Gallup's tracking poll continued to be bullish for Romney as it showed the Republican roughly around the 51 percent mark and Obama with 46 percent in its likely voter model; both candidates were tied at 48 percent in the registered voter model. Also following the trend from the previous week, Ipsos/Reuters showed the president in a better position -- he was leading Romney in the likely voter model (47-46), as well as the registered voter model (49-41).

    Non-tracking pollsters in the final week of October showed a range of preferences. NPR's poll gave Romney the slight lead over the president (48-47). AP/GfK gave Romney the lead in its likely voter model (47-45), but Obama the lead in its registered voter model (45-44). ARG had the race tied (48-48). PPP, which had Romney with the lead a week before, now showed the president with momentum as both candidates were now in a tie (49-49). With only one week to go until election day, Pew Research showed a tie in its likely voter model (47-47) but a slight lead for Obama among registered voters (47-45). Politico/GWU Battleground gave the slight edge to the president over Romney (49-48). YouGov offered similar results with the president ahead (48-46 LV; 47-45 RV), as did CBS/New York Times with Obama leading (48-47 LV; 48-43 RV). Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for Democracy Corps gave the lead to President Obama over Romney (49-46).

    At the start of November 2012, with only days to go until election day, Gallup had suspended polling due to Hurricane Sandy, which devastated the eastern seaboard of the United States. Rasmussen was falling into alignment with the other rolling trackers and showed Obama and Romney tied at 48 percent. Reuters/Ipsos showed an unchanged race with the president leading Romney in the likely voter model (48-47), as well as the registered voter model (48-42).

    Non-tracking pollsters in this period, just ahead of election day, showed a tight race at the national level, but with an edge to the president. Fox News had Obama and Romney tied (46-46), while YouGov gave a slight lead to the president (48-47), and National Journal/United Technologies showed a stronger Obama lead (50-45).

    The final pre-election polls were as follows: Gallup's final poll gave Romney a small lead (49-48); Rasmussen's final poll had the race tied (49-490; CNN-ORC had President Obama and Mitt Romney tied in its likely voter model (49-49 LV) but with the president slightly ahead in its registered voter model (50-48 RV); NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll gave a slight lead to the president (48-47); YouGov had the president ahead (49-47); PPP gave the president the lead (50-47); Pew reflected that same three point advantage for Obama (50-47); and Democracy Corps had the president leading Romney (49-45).

    It should be clear that a number of national polls have often suggested a very close race -- akin to a tie or with Romney leading at times -- than the electoral college. But in terms of the electoral vote count map -- President Obama has enjoyed moderately better polling numbers in key battleground states and more pathways to victory. In the battleground states during the period of late May to early September 2012, the only conclusion to be drawn was that regardless of the national numbers, the president maintained a moderate edge over Romney in the electoral college, which determines the presidency. Mid-August coincided with Romney's selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate. The first batch of battleground state numbers during this period saw a modest tightening of the race. By the start of September 2012, as both parties completed their conventions, swing states continued to show closeness, as discussed below. As September 2012 entered its mid-point, the president was boosted in key battleground states and seemed to be staking out a strong position across the battleground map. But as discussed here, at the start of October 2012 -- in the wake of the president's poor performance at the first debate matched by Romney's masterful effort -- there clear tightening in certain battleground states. That momentum for Romney appeared to have been stemmed as the president gave two later strong debate performances. That being said, the race was going to be a battle to the end.

    Arizona - At the start of the 2012 election season, there was little hope that Arizona -- the home state of the Republican presidential nominee in 2008, John McCain -- was at risk of being a battleground. Despite occasional polls showing a closer than expected race here, just ahead of election day, Arizona was slated for the Republican column.

    Colorado - By the last week of October 2012, the pollster ARG showed Romney leading in Colorado (47-48). In this period, NBC/Marist showed a tied race (48-48), Purple Strategies had Obama with a slight lead (47-46), Grove Insight and Keating Research both gave the president a three point lead (46-43 and 48-45 respectively), and PPP showed the president with a clear lead (51-47). With only a few days until election day, Rasmussen was the only pollster to show a lead for Romney here (50-47). YouGov showed the president with the slight edge (48-47). The Denver Post, SUSA, and We ask America respectively gave Obama a slim lead (47-45); CNN/ORC had Obama ahead (50-48 LV; 52-44 RV); Grove Insight showed the president in the lead (48-45); and PPP had Obama with the advantage (50-46). Accordingly, Colorado was cautiously placed into President Obama's column. Colorado was a state to be watched.

    Florida - With one week to go until election day, Rasmussen and Gravis gave Romney the slight lead (50-48 and 50-49 respectively). Pharos and SUSA respectively showed a tied race (47-47). CNN/ORC gave Romney a single digit lead in its likely voter model and the president a six-point lead in its registered voter model -- (50-49 LV and 52-46 RV) respectively. PPP gave a slight lead to the president (49-48), as did Grove Insight (47-45), and Mellman for the Tampa Bay Times (49-47). Only days away from election day, Mason-Dixon, Gravis, and We Ask America respectively gave Romney the lead in the Sunshine State (51-46, 50-47, and 50-49 respectively). The New York Times/CBS News/Quinnipiac gave Obama the lead (48-47), as did PPP (50-49), NBC/Marist (49-47), as well as the Mellman Group (49-47). The closeness of the race meant that Florida was remained a "toss up" state going into election day. Nevertheless, the Sunshine state was being placed into the Romney column.

    Indiana - Indiana, which went Democratic in 2008, seemed out of reach for Obama in 2012, since Romney was leading the president decisively there. Indeed, polling data only a month prior to the election gave Romney a clear lead over Obama.

    Iowa - As October 2012 came to a close, the polls showed a close race with a lead for the president. The closeness of the race in the state that granted Obama his first primary victory was sure to give his campaign heartburn. Rasmussen showed the race tied at 48 percent for both candidates. PPP and a NBC/Marist poll gave the edge to the president (49-47 in both cases). Gravis gave the president a clearer lead (50-46). With only days to go until election day, the University of Iowa gave Romney the lead (45-44). However, YouGov, Mellman, We Ask America, PPP, Grove Insight, and CallFire/Faith Horizon respectively showed Obama leading (48-47, 46-44, 49-47, 50-48, 47-44, and 50-47). A new NBC News/Marist poll gave the president a clearer lead(50-44 LV; 49-43 RV), as did the final Des Moines Register poll (47-42). Iowa was, therefore, narrowly in the Obama column. A state to be watched.

    Michigan - At the start of October 2012, EPIC had Obama ahead by double digits (47-37); as well, WAA showed a similarly substantial lead (52-40); later in October 2012, YouGov showed Obama's advantage holding (52-42), while the Detroit Free Press and EPIC both showed a tighter race, albeit with an Obama lead -- (52-46) in both cases. At the close of the month, Glengariff showed an unexpectedly tight race with Obama slightly ahead (48-45). At the start of November, only days from election day, a new EPIC-MRA poll had Obama with a more robust lead over Romney (48-42), as did Grove Insight (48-41), and PPP (53-45). The conventional wisdom was that although the race might, at times, appear close, Michigan was a "leaning Obama" state.

    Missouri - Missouri constituted close wins for the Republicans at the presidential level in 2000, 2004, and 2008. Thus, it has been classified as a swing state that never tends to quite break for the Democratic presidential candidate in recent years. The year, 2012, was not expected to shift the trend with all polls showing a modest Romney lead. Accordingly, all expectations were that this state would remain in Romney's column and that Romney would actually outperform McCain's 2008 lead in a state clearly trending more Republican.

    Nebraska - Nebraska cannot, in any sense, be regarded as a swing state. It is reliably Republican and will be decisively won by Romney in 2012. However, Nebraska is one of only two states that apportions electoral votes proportionally. Thus, the single EV from the 2nd congressional district (which covers Omaha) was up for grabs. Won in 2008 by Obama in a historic election, the 2nd district was expected to resort to type in 2012 and go to Romney.

    New Hampshire - Although most experts believed that New Hampshire leaned towards the president, it was clear that the race in this state was turning out to be competitive. In late October 2012, ARG and Rasmussen gave Romney the lead (49-47 and 50-48 respectively), while the University of New Hampshire went in the other direction giving the president the lead (51-42). With one week to go until election day, the following pollsters each gave the lead to the president: PPP (49-47), New England College (49-46), Grove Insight (47-44), and Lake Research (47-42). In early November 2012, with only days until election day, NBC News/Marist showed a narrow lead for Obama over Romney (49-47), as did Gravis (50-49), as well as PPP (50-48). Meanwhile New England College and YouGov showed more decisive leads for the president (50-45 and 47-43 respectively), while University of New Hampshire showed a tie (47-47). Obama's advantage only days from the election meant that New Hampshire was now (cautiously) in the Obama column. A state to be watched.

    New Mexico - This state was a keystone of the president's "western firewall" and President Obama was holding a decisive lead. The Albuquerque Journal's poll in mid-October 2012 showed the president holding onto a double digit lead (49-39). One week away from election day, the Obama lead was less robust but no less present; the Albuquerque Journal showed Obama with the lead (50-41). Accordingly, New Mexico was in the Obama column.

    Nevada - In the "western firewall" state of Nevada, the president was enjoying a modest but consistent lead. At the end of October 2012, Obama was maintaining his lead in polls as follows: Rasmussen (50-48), ARG (49-47), PPP (51-47), and NBC/Marist (50-47 LV; 51-45 RV). One week away from election day, CallFire/Faith Horizon gave Obama the lead (50-46), as did Grove Insight (49-43). In early November 2012, with the election only days away, YouGov, SUSA, and Mellman gave clear leads to Obama over Romney as follows -- (49-45, 50-46, and 50-44 respectively). Based on this consistent cumulative polling data, Nevada was in the Obama column at this time.

    North Carolina - The president narrowly won this state in 2008, and the race was again very close in 2012, albeit with an advantage for the Republican nominee. For several month, polls showed Romney with the lead over Obama. But after the Democrats held their convention in North Carolina, polls began to show occasional tightening here. By the end of October and one week to go until election day, the following pollsters had Romney in the lead: Gravis (53-45), Rasmussen (52-46), SUSA (50-45) and Civitas (48-47). Counter-intuitively, PPP showed the race tied (48-48), as did Elon University (45-45). Grove Insight gave Obama the lead (47-44) over Romney. In early November 2012, with only days to go until the election, the polls were once again offering contrasting depictions; SUSA gave the lead to Romney over Obama (50-45) as did YouGov (49-47); High Point gave a slight lead to Romney (46-45); PPP showed a tied race (49-49). Irrespective of certain results showing a close race, or reports of high early voter turnout for Democrats in this state, many analysts were of the mind that North Carolina would be an unrealistic win for the president in 2012. Accordingly, North Carolina was cautiously placed in the Romney column at this time. A state to be watched.

    Ohio - In late October, Univ. of Cincinnati for the Ohio Newspapers Group, Rasmussen and Gravis showed the race tied (48-48, 47-47, and 49-49 respectively). Meanwhile, a number of polls showed Obama leading Romney as follows: Purple (46-44), ARG (49-47), Lake Research (46-44), Time (49-45), CNN (50-46), and Pharos (50-45). With one week to go until election day, there was no shortage of polling of the state regarded as "Ground Zero" in the 2012 presidential election. Rasmussen was the lone pollster giving Romney a lead here (50-48), while Gravis showed a slight Obama lead (50-49). The following polls, however, indicated a clear Obama advantage: SUSA (48-45), Grove Insight (48-45), PPP (51-47), Mellman (49-44), and CBS/NYT/ Quinnipiac (50-45). At the start of November 2012, with only days from election day, Rasmussen showed the race tied (49-49); University of Cincinnati had the president slightly ahead (48-46), in line with the Columbus Dispatch (50-48); CNN showed a modest Obama lead (50-47). But a number of polls in this final pre-election period showed the president sporting a clear advantage over Romney as follows -- YouGov (49-46), Grove (49-45), New York Times/CBS News/Quinnipiac (50-45); PPP (52-47);and NBC/Marist (51-45). Accordingly, Ohio remained in the president's column. The electoral epicenter state was one to be watched.

    Pennsylvania - The president was holding his own in the former swing state of Pennsylvania, with polling data giving Obama the consistent lead of about six percentage points over Romney. From mid-October 2012 through the last week of the month, there was discernible tightening in this state but Obama was maintaining his lead as follows: Muhlenberg College (50-45), Quinnipiac (50-46), Rasmussen (51-46), YouGov (51-44), PPP (51-44), Philadelphia Inquirer (49-43). In early November 2012 with the election only days away, Franklin and Marshall showed the same trend with Obama modestly ahead (49-45). Although pro-Romney entities were pouring money into Pennsylvania in the final days of the campaign, Pennsylvania remained in the president's column. A state to be watched.

    Virginia - Dubbed a "new Obama coalition state" after the 2008 election, Virginia was expected to go to Romney in 2012 -- a bridge too far for Obama to cross in this election year. As October 2012 was coming to a close, though, the race remained competitive with no conclusive indication of who was ahead. Rasmussen and Fox News showed Romney ahead (50-48 and 47-45 respectively). Purple Strategies showed the race tied (47-47). Mellman and PPP showed President Obama in the lead (46-45 and 51-46 respectively). With only one week to go until election day, there was no clear sign of where the race was headed. Gravis showed a tied race (48-48), but Garin-Hart-Yang showed a lead for the president (49-46), and the Washington Post showed even better results for the president (51-47). Then, at the start of November 2012, with the election only days away, Roanoke College gave the lead to Romney (46-41). A number of other polls gave Obama the advantage as follows: WAA (49-48), NBC News (48-47), New York Times/CBS News/Quinnipiac (49-47), YouGov (48-46), Reuters-Ipsos (48-45), and PPP (51-47). Accordingly, Virginia was cautiously placed into the Obama column. A state to be watched.

    Wisconsin - The president was seeing some success in holding onto his advantage in Wisconsin in the first part of 2012, albeit not at the landslide level of his 2008 support. In August 2012, coinciding with Romney's selection of Ryan -- a Wisconsinite -- as his running mate, there was a clear tightening of the race. Was the selection of Ryan turning out to be a game changer? Both campaigns decided to run some advertising in Wisconsin, possibly viewing it as a target. By mid-October 2012, the slim lead for Obama was maintained, according to Rasmussen (50-48), while NBC/WSJ/Marist was showing a more decisive edge for the president -- (51-45). As October 2012 was coming to a close, the modest Obama lead was holding as follows: Mason Dixon (48-46), Grove Insight (47-44), and PPP (51-45). At the start of November 2012, with the election only days away, Obama appeared to be holding his advantage. While Rasmussen showed the race tied (49-49), a number of polls showed the president ahead as follows: NBC News/Marist (49-46); YouGov (50-46), PPP (51-48); Grove Insight (48-42), Marquette (51-43); and St. Norbert College (51-42). Accordingly, Wisconsin was in the president's column for now. A state to be watched.

    The conclusion was that the president cumulatively had a moderate advantage on the electoral map. As discussed below, President Obama does not need to win every battleground state to clinch victory, while Romney has to “run the table.” That being said, with Romney within striking distance (a few percentage points) of the president in key states, the president's advantage has to be regarded as a precarious one. See below for projections of where the presidential race stands at this time.

    Summary Projection:

    Despite the closeness of so-called "head-to-head match-ups" between Obama and Romney at the national level, polling data showed the president leading Romney in several key states, albeit with diminishing advantages in certain battleground states. President Obama, therefore, had more pathways to victory (270 EVs) than the eventual Republican nominee.

    That being said, his victory has broadly relied on holding every one of the so-called Kerry states (including Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and possibly problematic states such as Wisconsin), as well as Iowa (which was won by Gore in 2000 and lost by Kerry narrowly in 2004), and then securing the Western Firewall states of Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado. He has alternative pathways via traditional swing states, such as Florida and Ohio, or via new Obama coalition states, such as North Carolina and Virginia.

    The Republican presumptive nominee -- Romney -- has a tougher road to traverse and will have to win almost every key battleground state in order to defeat President Obama. Romney started off the general election campaign in mid-April 2012 with improving poll performances at the national level, which naturally translated into better opportunities in swing states. His strategic choice of vice president could well help Romney secure one of the key mid-west battleground states in the general election, and advance his path to White House victory. It was yet to be seen if Ryan would ultimately be deemed a strategic choice.

    With only days until election day, President Obama and Romney were in a competitive race, according to national polls. While the battleground map of states had shown a somewhat more notable edge for the president, a poor performance during the first debate by the president opened the door for Romney, who was now posting gains in several key swing states. Better performances in subsequent debates stemmed the proverbial bleeding for President Obama. Nevertheless, the presidential race was now wide open with Romney far better positioned to win victory, and with the president weakened from a previous position of strength on the electoral map. Strong subsequent debate performances offered a "reboot" for the president. Perceived responsiveness to the devastation of Hurricane Sandy on the eastern seaboard, which occurred a week ahead of election day, helped raise President Obama's favorability rating as he closed out the campaign season. Meanwhile, the Romney camp was insisting that momentum was on their side, that internal polling showed them ahead, and that they were poised for victory.

    With the president holding the Kerry-Gore states (including Michigan, Pennsylvania, but excluding Iowa, New Mexico, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin for now), he had a baseline EV count of 232 EVs. Since the president has enjoyed a consistent lead in New Mexico, that state could be added to the safe baseline for the president of 237 EVs. With the addition of Iowa and Wisconsin, which appeared to be leaning toward the president, he was holding 253 EVs. With recent polling showing the president with the lead in Ohio, he crossed the threshold to 271 EVs. With the addition of the "western firewall" state of Nevada, he padded his advantage to carry 277 EVs. The addition of another "western firewall" state -- Colorado -- took him to 286. Augmented by New Hampshire, the president was on track to win 290 EVs. Finally, Virginia was (cautiously) being moved to the Obama column for a total of 303 EVs.

    On the other side of the equation, Romney had a baseline of 181 EVs, which included the state of Indiana in his column. With Romney looking all but certain to secure a decisive win in Missouri, his total would increase to 191 EVs. With North Carolina sitting narrowly in the Romney column, his total was 206 EVs. Of course, that total would fall short of the 270 needed to clinch victory. Although Florida could well be considered a toss-up right to the end, it was being placed into the Romney column. With Florida -- the remaining "toss-up" states (discussed below) -- Romney would theoretically have 235 EVs and still fall short of victory.

    In this way, with 24 hours to go until election day, President Obama enjoyed the advantage to win re-election. That edge could be regarded as precarious, as demonstrated by the closeness of the polls in key battleground states. Romney would have to "run the proverbial table" in the swing states in order to claim victory; however, it was not implausible that favorable political winds could shift in Romney's direction for ultimate victory.

    270 EVs to win --

    303 (Obama)
    235 (Romney)

    ---
    538 (total EVs)
    ---

    ***

    The Congress

    In Congress, Democrats controlled the Senate while Republicans controlled the House of Representatives. The Congressional leadership was as follows: Democrat Harry Reid was the Senate Majority Leader; with Richard Durbin holding the second-in-command position for the Democrats. Mitch McConnell (Republican) was the Senate Minority Leader. Democrat Nancy Pelosi made history in 2006 by becoming the country's first female Speaker of the House and was third in line for the Presidency. She was succeeded in 2010 by Republican John Boehner as the new House Speaker following mid-term elections of that year. Eric Cantor was the House Majority Leader. Pelosi was now Minority Leader.

    In 2012, Republicans controlled 240 of 435 seats in the House of Representatives, Democrats controlled 193. Two seats were vacant. 218 seats would be needed for control of the chamber, meaning Democrats need a net gain of 25 seats to retake the House. That was expected to be a tough hurdle for the Democrats to cross, even in a presidential year with a popular Democratic president at the top of the ticket. Accordingly, all expectations are that the Republicans would hold the House of Representatives, albeit with a reduced majority.

    That being said, there were a number of seats up for grabs in so-called "orphan states" (i.e. non-battleground states where the presidential politics were not playing a role, and where the outcome was predictable, but which could net the Democrats a number of seats. Chief among those states were California where, for example, the 52nd congressional district was held by Republican Bill Bilbray in a newly configured constituency nearly evenly split among Republicans, Democrats and Independents. The Democrat, Scott Peters, had a chance to turn this seat over to his party's fold. Likewise, in New York's 19th congressional district, redistricting has compelled Republican Chris Gibson to seek a second term in a more Democratic-leaning district with new voters who might be more amenable to a Democrat. In Texas' 23rd congressional district, which was now evenly divided between the two major parties, freshman Republican Francisco Canseco would have to fight off Pete Gallego, the Democrat.

    Note that the Republican-led Congress holds the worst approval ratings in United States modern history. Whereas in late 2011, Republicans led Democrats on the generic Congressional ballot, in the first part of 2012, Democrats had shifted the momentum to their advantage. In March 2012, while both political parties suffered from record low approval ratings, congressional Democrats were viewed more favorably than Republicans. By the start of May 2012, the tide had turned, though, and Republicans had the advantage of a few percentage points according to polls by PPP, Gallup, and Rasmussen. In late May 2012, movement had occurred yet again as the generic ballot showed a highly competitive race between the two parties running neck-and-neck against one another. As of the start of June 2012, Republicans had a slight advantage over Democrats in the generic Congressional ballot. But by mid-June 2012, the race was moving back to the middle with Democrats holding the slight advantage. In July 2012, the race was back to being a dead heat and by the start of September 2012, there remained little of a competitive advantage for either party. In mid-September, though, there was a slight advantage for the Democrats on the generic ballot.

    In the Senate, as of 2012 (and following the 2010 mid-term elections), Democrats retained control of the upper chamber. Democrats and two Democratic-allied Independents controlled 53 seats; Republicans held 47 seats. In 2012, there were more Democrats up for re-election compared with Republicans. Accordingly, Republicans had high hopes that could secure an additional four seats and take over the upper chamber of Congress. However, the reasonable possibilities for Democrats to pick up seats could well off-set possible losses in states.

    The battle for control of the Senate would be fought in the following election contests, listed in order of ease for Republicans: --

    The following seats were regarded as safe Republican seats, meaning that they were expected to remain safely in Republican hands:

    Wicker of Mississippi; Cruz of Texas; Corker of Tennessee; Barrosso of Wyoming; Hatch of Utah.

    The following seats were regarded as likely to switch from Democratic to Republican hands:

    Nebraska -- With Democratic Senator Ben Nelson retiring, this Senate seat presented a prime opportunity for a Republican "pick up" in the Senate. Indeed, the Republican candidate, Deb Fisher, is expected to easily win this state against Democratic former Senator Bob Kerrey, despite tightening of this race in the last week of the election.

    The following seats were regarded as "toss up" races:

    North Dakota -- With Democratic Senator Kent Conrad retiring, this Senate seat presented another juicy pick up opportunity for the Republicans. The Republican candidate, Rick Berg, was expected to win this race against former Attorney General Heidi Heitekamp. However, Heitekamp has been running a surprisingly competitive race with some polls showing her ahead of Berg. This race will go down to the wire.

    Arizona -- With Republican Senator Jon Kyl retiring, this Senate seat presented a likely "hold" for the Republicans with popular Jeff Flake set to be that party's candidate. But former Surgeon General Richard Carmona, who served in the Bush administration, was showing cross-over appeal as the Democratic candidate. Indeed, Arizona's Senate race was shaping up to be unexpectedly competitive. Although the smart money was on Flake to hold this seat for the Republicans, Carmona could post an upset here.

    Indiana -- Veteran Republican Richard Lugar would have been a lock for re-election here; however, he was ousted in the Republican primary by Tea Party favorite, Richard Mourdock, who promised absolutely "no compromising" with Democrats in the Senate. Some less than diplomatic statements about women did not help Mourdock's case. These harsh stances breathed new life into the candidacy of Democratic candidate Joe Donnelly, who was now running competitively against Mourdock in what should have been a guaranteed "hold" for the Republicans.

    Montana -- Democrat Jon Tester might be the most vulnerable of his party in the Senate. He narrowly won his seat in 2006 in a historic "wave" election. All analysts have viewed Tester as highly vulnerable in 2012 to go down to defeat against Republican Dennis Rehberg, thus offering the Republicans a desirable pick-up opportunity. That said, recent polling data shows Tester retaining a competitive standing in the race against Rehberg.

    Nevada -- Incumbent Dean Heller, a Republican, was in a tough race against Democrat, Shelley Berkeley. Polling data showed a slight advantage to Heller in this toss up race that Republicans want to hold. If Nevada goes to President Obama at the presidential level, though, Berkeley might pull off an upset as a down ballot beneficiary.

    Wisconsin -- With Democratic Senator Herb Kohl retiring, Republicans were hoping for another Senate gain opportunity here. Indeed, their candidate, former Gov. Tommy Thompson, had already shown he had statewide appeal and was regarded as a strong contender to win this race. In fact, polling data for some time showed him leading the openly-gay Democratic candidate, Tammy Baldwin. But a month before the election, it was Baldwin in the lead and slightly favored to hold this seat for the Democrats.

    Wild Card:

    Maine -- Had incumbent Republican Senator Olympia Snowe opted to remain in the Senate, this seat would have stayed "red." However, since Maine has voted Democratic at the presidential level for several election cycles, it was now vulnerable. The likely winner of this Senate race-- Angus King -- was actually an independent. However, as one who endorsed Barack Obama in the 2008 election, all expectations were that he would caucus with the Democrats. Certainly, a King victory would mean no advantage for the Republicans who would now suffer an unanticipated loss in the Senate.

    These competitive seats were regarded as leaning slightly Democratic:

    Connecticut -- Wrestling executive, Linda McMahon was trying again (after a previous unsuccessful bid) to win a Senate seat -- belonging to outgoing Senator Joseph Lieberman -- in this state for the Republicans . A smart campaign without an overtly partisan stance catapulted her into an early lead ahead of the Democrat, Chris Murphy, and contributed to Republican hopes here. But Murphy was slowly moving into a slight lead here. The blue (re: Democratic) tinge of Connecticut was expected to benefit Murphy on election day.

    Missouri -- Embattled Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill was considered to be on the road to defeat but was given new life when Republicans in that state chose Todd Akin as their Senate candidate. A favorite of the extremist Tea Party movement, his comments of "legitimate rape" fueled the already-hot fire regarding the so-called "war on women." Instead of Missouri being a lock for the Republicans, this was now a competitive race with McCaskill narrowly positioned to hold on to her seat.

    Massachusetts -- Perhaps the most celebrated Senate race of the 2012 campaign season has to be Massachusetts. At stake was the late Senator Ted Kennedy's seat, which was won in an off-year election by moderate Republican Scott Brown. In 2012, he was being challenged by liberal darling and champion of the Consumer Protections Agency, Elizabeth Warren. Earlier in the year, Brown had the clear advantage in this state, but a solid high-profile performance at the Democratic National Convention served Warren well. She moved into a modest lead ahead of Brown in the race for this sought-after Senate seat.

    Virginia -- With Democrat Jim Webb retiring, Republican George Allen (who narrowly lost to Webb in 2006) was hoping to finally win this state. But former Gov. Tim Kaine, the Democrat, has been waging a very competitive race against Allen. Polling shows a competitive race with a recent tilt toward Kaine who could well hold this seat for the Democrats.

    Florida -- Democratic Senator Bill Nelson was being blasted by negative advertising in a bid by conservatives to oust this long-serving senator from his seat and place Republican Connie Mack in this spot instead. But Nelson has managed to stave off the attacks and hold steady with a modest lead here. With Florida as one of the most important battleground state at the presidential level, Nelson may benefit from being on a ballot with Barack Obama at the top in a state that is getting much positive attention.

    Ohio -- Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown was being blasted by "super pac" advertising in a bid by conservatives to oust this populist and progressive senator from his seat and place Republican Josh Mandell in that spot instead. But Brown has managed to stave off the attacks and hold steady with a modest lead here. With Ohio as arguably the premier battleground state at the presidential level, Brown may benefit from being on a ballot with Barack Obama at the top in a state that is getting much positive attention.

    Pennsylvania -- Democratic Senator Bob Casey was being challenged by Tom Smith, a Republican, for this seat. Polling data gave Casey a modest lead here and with the state likely to go for Barack Obama at the presidential level, Casey may benefit from strong turnout of the Democratic base.

    The following seats were regarded as leaning more strongly Democratic:

    Hawaii -- With long-serving Democratic Senator Daniel Akaka retiring, Republicans were hoping for another Senate gain opportunity here. Indeed, their candidate, former Gov. Linda Lingle, had already shown he had state-wide appeal and was regarded as a decent contender to win this race. But Mazie Hirono showed her own political stripes, winning a competitive Democratic primary against Ed Case, and starting off the race in her own strong position. Moreover, Hawaii has been a strongly Democratic state with its own native son, Barack Obama, at the top of the ticket. Should the Democratic candidate find herself in trouble closer to election day, no doubt she would benefit from the strength of the president and the Democratic label next to her name.

    New Mexico -- With Democratic Senator Jeff Bingaman retiring, Republicans were wondering if this Senate seat would be win for them. With Republican Heather Wilson as their candidate, they had high hopes, which were soon dashed as polling data showed the Democratic candidate, Martin Heinrich, posting consistent and clear leads. New Mexico's Senate seat would remain Democratic.

    Michigan -- Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow was headed for a tough race against Pete Hoekstra in Michigan. But advertising by Hoekstra entered the terrain of controversy as some interpretations included charges of racism. That episode appeared to have ended the flirtation with Hoekstra as Stabenow was headed for decisive re-election victory according to the polling data.

    Washington -- Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell was headed for clear re-election victory against Michael Baumgartner, the Republican. With Barack Obama at the top of the ticket in a state expected to go for the incumbent Democratic president, and with a competitive governor's race at hand, with Democrat Jay Inslee looking for a win, the Democratic turnout would undoubtedly benefit Cantwell.

    West Virginia -- Democratic Senator Joe Manchin was hoping to be re-elected against Republican John Raese in a state that has shown no love for Barack Obama, who would be at the top of the ballot. Unlike other Senate races where the Democratic president offered a "lift" of sorts, in this state, Manchin would have to rely on his social conservative credentials and distinction of being a West Virginia Democrat with limited affiliation to the president. Manchin has been masterful at carving out this territory and was expected to win against Raese.

    These seats were regarded as safe "holds" for the Democrats:

    Gillibrand of New York, Carper of Delaware; Cardin of Maryland; Whitehouse of Rhode Island; Kloubouchar of Minnesota; Feinstein of California; Menendez of New Jersey, Cantwell of Washington, and Sanders of Vermont (technically an Independent aligned with the Democrats).

    Conclusion for the two houses of Congress:

    With anti-incumbent sentiment being high, there were no good predictions of how the elections would fare. That being said, any party siding with the establishment might have a harder time at the polls than one seizing upon a populist message at a time of economic strife. To that end, the Republicans' insistence on protecting the richest echelons of the country from tax increases and their call for deregulation could serve them negatively at the polls - especially if the Democrats were able to craft a sharp and concise populist message. In the past, however, effective messaging has been a serious problem for the Democrats. As stated above, it was unlikely that this shift would necessarily help Democrats retake the House, due to the sheer quantity of seats they would have to win. In the Senate, where expectations continued to prevail that the two parties were in a close 50/50 contest for Senate control, the slight shift in the generic ballot could have a pro-Democratic edge.


    ***

     

    See below for state by state projections chart for the presidential election –

     

     State

     EV

    Republican 

     Democratic

     Commentary

     Alabama

      9

      9

     

    Solid “red” Republican state based on historic data. Won by Bush in 2000 and 2004; won by McCain in 2008 with 60% against Obama with 39%. Will surely stay in Republican hands in 2012.

     Alaska

      3

      3

     

    Solid “red” Republican state based on historic data. Won by Bush in 2000 and 2004; won by McCain in 2008 with 59% against Obama with 38%. Will surely stay in Republican hands in 2012.

     Arizona 

     11

     11

     

    Leaning Republican, with potential for slipping into toss-up territory.  Won by Bush in 2000 and 2004; in 2008,  McCain won his home state against Obama 54% to 45%.  However, the closeness of the race (within single digits) even in 2008 with a native son on the ballot, along with the growing Latino population, opened up the possibility of Arizona turning into a toss-up state in 2012.  Polling data in 2012 show the state as being competitive, albeit with a clear advantage toward the Republican nominee. 

     Arkansas

      6

    6

     

    Very likely Republican state. Won by Bush in 2000 and 2004; won by McCain in 2008 with 59% against Obama with 39%.  Only a Clinton on the ticket could shift this state back to the Democratic column.  Will certainly stay in Republican hands in 2012..

     California

     55

     

     55

    Strong Blue Democratic state.  Won by Gore in 2000; Kerry in 2004; and went handily for Obama in 2008 at 61% against McCain with 37%. There is little doubt that this state will stay securely in Democratic hands in 2012.

     Colorado

      9

     

     9

    Toss up; slight tilt to Democrat.  This state was won modestly by Bush in 2000 and 2004; in 2008, Obama chose Colorado for the DNC.  That effort, along with changing demographic trends, helped swing Colorado to the Democratic column in 2008. Obama secured 53 % over McCain with 45 %.  A close race was expected in 2012 between Obama and Romney.  Contradictory polling data showed a competitive race, but with a tilt to the president.   A state to be watched.

     Connecticut

      7

     

      7

    Strong “blue” Democratic state. Won by Gore in 2000; Kerry in 2004; and went handily for Obama in 2008 at 61% against McCain with 38 %. This state is expected to stay securely in Democratic hands in 2012.

     Delaware

      3

     

      3

    Strong  “blue” Democratic state, especially with Biden (whose home state is Delaware) as Obama's running mate. Won by Gore in 2000; Kerry in 2004; and went handily for Obama in 2012 at 62% against McCain with 37 %. This state is expected to stay securely in Democratic hands in 2012.

     D.C.

      3

     

      3

     Strong “bright blue” Democratic territory.  Won by Gore in 2000; Kerry in 2004; and gave Obama  his largest margin of victory in 2008 with 92.5% against McCain with 6.5 %.  Obama  will win the capital handily in 2012. 

     Florida

     29 

     29

     

    Toss-up.   Florida was won by Bush by only a few hundred votes  in 2000 in a contested race with Gore; Bush won the state more convincingly in 2004.  Obama carried this state in 2008 with 51 percent against McCain with 48.5 percent.  In 2012, Florida promises to be another true battleground state.  Polling data has been contradictory with some surveys indicating the advantage for Romney, and other polls showing Obama slightly ahead.  The Romney-Ryan stance on Medicare promised to be a major campaign issue. A definite toss up; polling data suggested a close and competitive race, although it was ultimately assigned to Rommey one day ahead of the election. A state to be watched.

     Georgia

     16

     16

     

    Leaning Republican state. Won by Bush in 2000 and 2004; in 2008,  McCain won this state against Obama 52% to 47%.  However, the closeness of the race (within 5 %) even in 2008 suggests that this state could be a battleground state in the future.  In 2012, though, Romney will hold this state for the Republicans.

     Hawaii

      4

     

      4

    Strongly “true blue”  Democratic state. Won by Gore in 2000; Kerry in 2004.  As the birthplace of Obama, there was little surprise that Hawaii went handily for the Democratic ticket in 2008. Obama secured 72 % against McCain with 26.5 % . There is little doubt that this state will stay securely in Democratic hands in 2012.

     Idaho

      4

      4

     

    Solid “ruby red” Republican state.  Won by Bush in 2000 and 2004; landed in the McCain column easily, in 2008 with 61.5 % against Obama with 36 %.  Will safely stay in Republican hands in 2012.  

     Illinois

     20

     

     20

    Strong “blue” Democratic state.  Won by Gore in 2000; Kerry in 2004.  As the home state of Obama, there was little surprise that Illinois went handily for the Democratic ticket in 2008. Obama secured 62 % against McCain with 37 % . There is little doubt that this state will stay securely in Democratic hands in 2012.

     Indiana

     11

     11

     

    Toss-up, leaning Republican.  Indiana has been a reliably Republican state based on historic date and was won by Bush in 2000 and 2004.  In 2008, Obama pulled of a surprising victory here with 50 % over McCain with 49 %.  In 2012, all expectations were that Indiana would tilt back to the Republican column.  

     Iowa

      6

     

     6

    Toss-up; leaning ever so slightly Democratic.  This state was narrowly won by Gore in 2000 and narrowly won by Bush in 2004.  Obama won the state that gave him his first primary victory in 2008.  In fact, he outperformed both Gore and Bush in terms of margin of victory by securing 54 % over McCain with 44 %.   In 2012, Iowa was set to become another key battleground.  Recent polling indicates a slight edge to the president, although this edge could erode based on trends in the presidential race. A state to be watched.

     Kansas

      6

      6

     

     Likely  Republican state based on historic data. Won by Bush in 2000 and 2004; won by McCain in 2008 with 57% against Obama with 42%. Expected to stay in Republican hands in 2012.

     Kentucky

      8

      8

     

    Likely  Republican state based on historic data. Won by Bush in 2000 and 2004; won by McCain in 2008 with 57% against Obama with 41%. Expected to stay in Republican hands in 2012

     Louisiana

      8

      8

     

    Strong  Republican state based on historic data. Won by Bush in 2000 and 2004; won by McCain in 2008 with 59% against Obama with 40%. Will surely stay in Republican hands in 2012.

     Maine

      4

     

     4

    Likely “blue” Democratic state. Won by Gore in 2000; Kerry in 2004; and went decisively for Obama in 2008 with 58% against McCain with 40 %. This state is expected to stay securely in Democratic hands in 2012.

     Maryland

     10

     

     10

    Strong “blue” Democratic state. Won by Gore in 2000; Kerry in 2004; and went decisively for Obama in 2008 with 61% against McCain with 36.5 %. This state is expected to stay securely in Democratic hands in 2012.

     Massachusetts  

     11

     

     11

    Strong Democratic state. Won by Gore in 2000; Kerry in 2004; and went decisively  for Obama in 2008 with 62% against McCain with 36%. This state is expected to stay securely in Democratic hands in 2012.

     Michigan

     16

     

    16

    Leaning somewhat Democratic.  Michigan  has been classified as a battleground state in recent election cycles. The recent historical record shows that the state has ultimately swung Democratic.  Won by Gore in 2000 and Kerry in 2004.  In 2008, Obama outperformed Democratic predecessors in previous contests for this state by securing 57 % over McCain who took 41%.  With Romney penning the infamous “let Detroit fail” op ed on the auto industry, the state was expected to remain in the Democratic column in 2012.  It should be noted that a number of  polls showed Michigan closely contested and almost slipping back into battleground status; it was therefore on the "watch list" with possible change in status afoot. 

     Minnesota

     10

     

    10

    Leaning Democratic; despite the fact that Minnesota is typically treated as a swing state.  The record shows that the state has ultimately swung Democratic in recent elections.  Won by Gore in 2000 and Kerry in 2004.  In 2008, . Obama outperformed his Democratic predecessors in previous contests for this state by securing 54 % over McCain who took 43 %.  This state is expected to remain in the Democratic column in 2012. 

     Mississippi

      6

      6

     

    Solid Republican state based on historic data. Won by Bush in 2000 and 2004; won by McCain in 2008 with 56% against Obama with 43%. Will surely stay in Republican hands in 2012 despite African American demographic advantages for Obama.

     Missouri

     10

     10

     

    Toss-up, leaning Republican.  Missouri has been a regular battleground state, consistently teasing Democrats with the possibility of being won, and ultimately ending in disappointment.  Bush secured tight victories in Missouri in 2000 and 2004.  In 2008, the state turned out to be highly contested territory and generated the slimmest margin of victory of the year … for the Republican. McCain won the state  with 49.4 % over Obama with 49.3%.  In 2012, there were expectations that Missouri would again remain in the Republican column, but this time with a more decisive margin of victory.  

     Montana

      3

      3

     

     Leaning Republican.  Won by Bush in 2000 and 2004.  In 2008, Obama made Republican Montana a surprisingly competitive state.  McCain secured a slim victory here with 49.5 % –only 2% over Obama who took 47 %.  In 2012, Montana was expected to remain in the Republican column.

     Nebraska

      5

      5

     

    Likely  Republican*.  Won by Bush in 2000 and 2004.  In 2008, McCain won the most votes with 56.5 % over Obama with 41.5 %.  *McCain did not win all of the 5 EVs in Nebraska, which apportions electoral votes bu congressional district.  Obama secured 1 EV for the area of Omaha.  In 2012, Nebraska was expected to remain Republican, and that 1 EV remained a toss up possibility, albeit not a likely win for Obama.

     Nevada

      6

     

     6

     Toss up; leaning Democratic.  This state was narrowly won by Bush in 2000 and 2004.  In 2008; polling numbers indicated a competitive race. Obama outperformed expectations and won the state with 55 % over McCain who took 42%.  In 2012, the state returned to toss-up territory; however,  there was a small but persistent advantage for the Democratic incumbent president.  A state to be watched.

     New Hampshire

      4

     

     4

    Toss-up; leaning Democratic.  This state was narrowly won by Bush in 2000 and narrowly won by Kerry in 2004.  In 2008, Obama held a consistent lead here and carried the state decisively with 55 % over McCain who took 45%. Romney was expected to launch a strong bid to win the state that gave him a big primary victory.   Contradictory polling went on for some time and gave an inconclusive picture of where this state was headed on election day. However, just ahead of voting, it was tilting slightly Democratic.  A state to be watched.

      New Jersey

     14

     

    14

    Likely Democratic. The historical record shows that this state has ultimately swung Democratic in recent elections.  New Jersey was won by Gore in 2000, Kerry in 2004, and Obama won the state convincingly in 2008 with 57 percent over McCain who took 42%.  It is expected to stay in the Democratic column in 2012.  

     New Mexico

      5

     

     5

    Leaning Democratic; despite the fact that NM  has been treated as a swing state in recent elections. Won by Gore in 2000, it went narrowly to Bush in 2004.  In 2008, Obama pulled off a decisive 57% victory over McCain who took 42%.  In 2012, NM is expected to be held by Obama.

     New York

     29

     

     29

    Strong “blue” Democratic state.  New York was won decisively in 2000 and in 2004 respectively by Gore and Kerry.  Performing in line with expectations, Obama won New York in 2008 with a convincing 62 % against McCain who took 36 %.  In 2012, this reliably Democratic state will strongly support  President Obama.

     North Carolina

     15

     15

     

    Toss up; leaning ever so slightly Republican.   North Carolina was regarded as a reliable Republican state for recent election cycles.  It was won by Bush in 2000 and in 2004.  In 2008, Obama raised eyebrows by launching an effort to win the state. That attention paid off and Obama eked out a slim victory of 49.7 % over McCain who took 49.4 %..   As in 2008, the changing demographics and an emerging class of youthful and educated voters push this red state into battleground territory in 2012.  Polls show an incredibly close race here as North Carolina turns into a key battleground. Still, this state offers an edge to Romney.  A state to be watched.

     North Dakota

      3

      3

     

     Leaning Republican.   A reliably Republican state, North Dakota was won by Bush in 2000 and in 2004.  In 2008, Obama was running a surprisingly competitive race although McCain ultimately won 53 % over Obama with 45 %.  In 2012, the state will go again to the Republican column.

     Ohio

     18

     

     18

    Toss-up; leaning slightly Democratic.  Ohio was narrowly won by Bush in 2000 and again in 2004 in a highly contested race. In the 2006 mid-terms, Ohio threw out most of its Republicans, auguring a shift in the state.  In 2008, Obama secured a high value victory with 51.5 % over McCain with 47%.  Most polls showed Obama with a  consistent polling advantage over Romney although a handfull of polls showed Romney in a competitive position.  Ahead of Obama's poor performance in the first debate, it was apparent that Ohio was moving more decisively towrd the president.  Since then, the race has tightened although the advantage remains with the president.   As the ultimate "tipping point" battleground state of the 2012 election, Ohio was a state to be watched.

     Oklahoma

      7

      7

     

    Solid “ruby red” Republican state.  Won easily by Bush in 2000 and in 2004; also won convincingly by McCain in 2008 with 66 % over Obama who took 34 %.  In fact, 2008 saw Oklahoma become the reddest state in the nation. In 2012, there was no absolutely no doubt that the  most conservative state would again land in the Republican column.

     Oregon

      7

     

    7

    Likely Democratic.  This state was  won by Gore in 2000 and by Kerry in 2004.  Obama carried this state handily in 2008 with 57 %  against McCain who took 40%.  All expectations were that Oregon would again land in the Democratic column in 2012, although polling data showed the president with a far more modest lead this year as compared with 2008.

     Pennsylvania

     20

     

    20

    Leaning Democratic state.  Pennsylvania has long been regarded as a key swing state and in recent election cycles, it has been a high value target for Republicans and Democrats.  Hard-fought battles ended in 2000 and 2004 with the state going to Gore and Kerry respectively.  In 2008, Obama outperformed his Democratic predecessors in previous contests for this state by securing 55 % over McCain who took 44 %.  Expected to remain in the Democratic column in 2012 despite its classification as a "battleground" state.

     Rhode Island

      4

     

      4

     Strongly “blue” Democratic state. Won by Gore in 2000 and by Kerry in 2004.  In 2008, Obama won this state with a resounding 63 % over McCain with 35%.   Guaranteed to go to the Democratic column in 2012. 

     South Carolina

      9

      9

     

    Likely  Republican state based on historic data. Won by Bush in 2000 and in 2004; won by McCain in 2008 with 54% against Obama who took 45%.  The single digit margin of victory was attributable to African American turnout in this state. Expected to stay securely  in Republican hands in 2012.

     South Dakota

      3

      3

     

    Likely  Republican state based on historic data. Won by Bush in 2000 and in 2004; won by McCain in 2008 with 53% against Obama who took 45%.  It should be noted that although he lost the state, Obama outperformed Gore and Kerry in South Dakota. This state is expected to stay in Republican hands in 2012.

     Tennessee

     11

    11

     

    Likely  Republican state based on historic data. Won by Bush in 2000 and in 2004; won by McCain in 2008 with 57% against Obama who took 42%.  Expected to stay in Republican hands in 2012.

     Texas

     38

     38

     

    Likely “red” Republican.  Bush won his home state of Texas handily in 2000 and 2004.  In 2008, McCain won the state with 55 % over Obama with 44 % -- a far more modest performance as compared with Bush’s back to back “blow out” victories in the Lone Star state.  In the future, a growing Latino population could push Texas into battleground territory.  But in 2012,  reliably red Texas was set to return to the Republican column 

     Utah

      6

      6

     

     Solid “ruby red” Republican state.  Won easily by Bush in 2000 and in 2004; also won convincingly by McCain in 2008 with 62.5 % over Obama who took 34.5 %.  In fact, 2008 saw Utah become the second reddest state in the nation after Oklahoma. In 2012, there was no absolutely no doubt that one of the most conservative states with a heavy Mormon population would go for Romney.

     Vermont

      3

     

      3 

    Strong “bright blue” Democratic .  Vermont was won decisively in 2000 and in 2004 respectively by Gore and Kerry.  Performing in line with expectations, Obama in 2008 won Vermont --- one of the bluest state in the nation --  with a convincing 68 % against McCain who took 31 %.  In 2012, this reliably Democratic state will strongly support  President Obama.

     Virginia

     13

     

     13

     Toss up; leaning Democratic. Virginia was long regarded as a reliable Republican state.  It was won by Bush in 2000 and in 2004.  In 2008, Obama raised eyebrows by launching an effort to win the state. That attention paid off and Obama eked out a notable victory of 52.5 % over McCain who took 46 %.   As in 2008, the changing demographics and an emerging class of  educated voters push this red state into battleground territory in 2012.  Polling data showed  a close and competitive race; it was ultimately assigned to the president 24 hours ahead of the election based on a light Obama trend in polling data. A state to be watched.

      Washington

     12

     

    12

    Likely Democratic.  This state was  won by Gore in 2000 and by Kerry in 2004.  Obama carried this state handily in 2008 with 58 %  against McCain who took 40.5%.  All expectations were that Washington would again land in the Democratic column in 2012..

     West Virginia

      5

    5

     

    Likely Republican.   Since 2000 when Bush won WV, and through 2004, when he won it again, this state has been on a right-ward drift.   Obama markedly underperformed his Democratic predecessors in previous elections in this state by losing the state 43% to McCain who had 56 %. There is no reason to expect a different result in 2012; WV will go to the Republicans. .

    Wisconsin

     10

     

    10

    Leaning Democratic; despite the fact that Wisconsin is typically treated as a swing state.  The record shows that the state has ultimately swung Democratic in recent elections.  It was won by Gore in 2000 and more narrowly by  Kerry in 2004.  In 2008, Obama outperformed his Democratic predecessors in previous contests for this state by securing 56 % over McCain who took 42 %.   It was originally  expected to remain in the Democratic column in 2012.  However, Romney boosted his chances of winning this state by putting Congressman Paul Ryan on the GOP ticket as his VP pick.  Polls showed tightening of the race after the Ryan for VP announcement and both camps were spending advertising dollars in Wisconsin.  For now, Wisconsin remained in the Obama column, albeit on the "watchlist".   A state to be watched.

    Wyoming

      3

      3

     

    Solid “red” Republican state.  Won by Bush in 2000 and 2004; it was won handily by McCain in 2008 with 65% against Obama who took 33%.  This state will sit securely in the Republican column in 2012.

     TOTAL

     

    538

     

     

     235

     

     303

    In the final days leading up to the election, President Obama and Romney were in a competitive race, according to national  polls. While the battleground map of states had shown a somewhat more notable edge for the president, a poor performance during the first debate by the president opened the door for Romney, who was now posting gains in several key swing states.  Better performances in subsequent debates stemmed the proverbial bleeding for President Obama. Nevertheless, the presidential race was now wide open with Romney far better positioned to win victory, and with the president weakened from a previous position of strength on the electoral map. Strong subsequent debate performances offered a "reboot" for the president. Perceived responsiveness to the devastation of Hurricane Sandy on the eastern seaboard, which occurred a week ahead of election day, helped raise President Obama's favorability rating as he closed out the campaign season.  Meanwhile, the Romney camp was insisting that momentum was on their side, that internal polling showed them ahead, and that they were poised for victory.

    With the president holding the Kerry-Gore states (including Michigan, Pennsylvania,  but excluding  Iowa, New Mexico, New Hampshire,  and Wisconsin for now), he had a baseline EV count of 232 EVs.  Since the president has enjoyed a consistent lead in New Mexico, that state could be added to the safe baseline for the president of 237 EVs. With the addition of Iowa and Wisconsin, which appeared to be leaning toward the president, he was holding 253 EVs.  With recent polling showing the president with the lead in  Ohio, he crossed the threshold to 271 EVs.  With the addition of the  "western firewall" state of Nevada, he padded his advantage to carry 277 EVs. The addition of another "western firewall" state -- Colorado -- took him to 286.  Augmented by New Hampshire, the president was on track to win 290 EVs.  Finally, Virginia was (cautiously) being moved to the Obama column for a total of 303 EVs.

    On the other side of the equation, Romney had a baseline of 181 EVs, which included the state of Indiana in his column. With Romney looking all but certain to secure a decisive win in Missouri,  his total would increase to  191 EVs. With North Carolina sitting narrowly in the Romney column, his total was 206 EVs.  Of course, that total would  fall short of the 270 needed to clinch victory. Although Florida could well be considered a toss-up right to the end, it was being placed into the Romney column.  With Florida -- the remaining "toss-up" states (discussed below) -- Romney would theoretically have 235 EVs  and still fall short of victory.

    In this way, with 24 hours to go until election day,  President Obama enjoyed the advantage to win re-election.  That edge could be regarded as precarious, as demonstrated by the closeness of the polls in key battleground states.  Romney would have to "run the proverbial table" in the swing states in order to claim victory; however, it was not implausible that favorable political winds could shift in Romney's direction for ultimate victory.

    270 EVs to win --

    303 (Obama)
    235 (Romney)

    ---
    538 (total EVs)
    ---

     

    A Word on Polling: Assessments are compiled using polling data from a variety of both partisan and non-partisan pollsters and are  subject to change at any time.  CountryWatch does not endorse any particular pollster.  CountryWatch urges users to review polling data critically, taking time to research the methodology of the polls cited,  rather than relying on the claims made in the popular media.  Of particular note is the methodology used by pollsters in likely voter models as compared with registered voter models,  in addition to weighting techniques. Users should feel free to contact the Editorial Department at CountryWatch if they require assistance in interpreting this data or to request source material.

     

     

     

    *******************

     


    RESULTS:

    Presidential Race

    President Obama re-elected with a majority of the popular vote and a clear lead across vast swaths of the electoral map --

    Barack Obama, the 44th president of the United States, was re-elected to power on Nov. 6, 2012. President Obama won a decisive victory by capturing every competitive swing state, with the exception of North Carolina, which went to Mitt Romney. The Republican candidate also lost the state of his birth, Michigan, his home state of Massachusetts, as well as New Hampshire and California where he has homes. President Obama won his home state of Illinois. As well, Hawaii -- the state where the president was born -- gave Obama his largest margin of victory.

    On election night, the president secured 303 EVs for victory (consistent with the CountryWatch pre-election projection above), while Romney secured 206 EVs. Meanwhile, the president was leading in Florida although voters remained in line to vote past midnight in this state, preventing a final tally from being made available. In this way, Florida's 29 EVs remained outstanding, although they were expected to end up in the Obama column. To that end, with most of the outstanding ballots to be counted in Democratic-friendly areas, the Romney camp on Nov. 8, 2012, conceded that Obama won the state. In this way, Florida was added to the collection of states won by Obama. The final tally meant that President Obama won 332 EVs over Romney who had 206 EVs. That result could be regarded as an overwhelming and unambiguous victory for the president.

    332 Obama
    206 Romney

    ---
    538 (total EVs)
    ---

    The full slate of results for the competitive battleground states were as follows:

    Colorado - Won by Obama (51-47)

    Florida - Won by Obama (50-49)

    Iowa - Won by Obama (52-46)

    Nevada - Won by Obama (52-46)

    New Hampshire - Won by Obama (52-46)

    North Carolina - Won by Romney (51-48)

    Ohio - Won by Obama (50-48 with 10 percent of vote share outstanding at time of writing)

    Virginia - Won by Obama (51-48)

    Wisconsin - Won by Obama (53-46)

    The results for other competitive states were as follows:

    Indiana - Won by Romney (54-44)

    Missouri - Won by Romney (54-44)

    Michigan - Won by Obama (54-45)

    Pennsylvania - Won by Obama (52-47)

    The president had also crossed the 50 percent threshold for the majority of the vote share, winning over 51 percent for Obama to 47 percent for Romney. At the time of writing (with the full vote count not complete), President Obama was leading the popular vote decisively, thus eliminating speculation that he would not enjoy a popular mandate. Barack Obama would have the distinction of being the first Democratic president to be re-elected to power with an absolute majority of the popular vote since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Obama would also join Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan as being the only presidents since Roosevelt to win outright majorities of the popular vote twice.

    The president's victory was won on the basis of key demographic voting blocs: women, ethnic minorities, and youth. President Obama matched his 2008 numbers in terms of level of support, from African Americans, Jewish Americans, and youth voters. But he also outperformed his 2008 level of support among Latinos and Asians. Yet in the key battleground state of Ohio, Obama managed to capture a significant share of the white working class and union vote. Moreover, he enjoyed overwhelming support from women across the board. Also included in the Democratic coalition were Native Americans, gays and lesbians, as well as individuals with graduate degrees. Romney's base of support came from rural voters, white evangelicals, married middle aged Americans, and seniors.

    Romney conceded defeat in a gracious and elegant speech. He congratulated the president in dignified tones, passionately thanked his supporters, and fervently declared that he and his running mate, Paul Ryan, had done as much as possible to win the White House. He then issued a heartfelt call for national unity, urging stakeholders on both sides of the partisan divide to "put the people before the politics." Finally, he wished President Obama well, declaring, "This is a time of great challenges for America, and I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation."

    For his part, President Obama thanked Romney for the vigorous election fight and paid homage to the Republican nominee and his family's record of public service. President Obama also issued effusive praise for Vice President Joe Biden and First Lady Michelle Obama.

    As he launched into his victory speech at the Chicago convention center, the president traced the long hard road to economic recovery and promised better days ahead, saying, "We have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America the best is yet to come." The president also asserted his accomplishments on domestic and foreign policy and promised to continue to work on behalf of the American people. He said, "Our economy is recovering, a war is ending, and a long campaign is over. Whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to your voice ... and I will return to the White House more determined than ever." Hinting towards his second term agenda, President Obama said: "In the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together: reducing our deficit, reforming our tax code, fixing our immigration system, freeing ourselves from foreign oil. We've got more work to do." Finally, President Obama signaled the message of national unity, hearkening back to the words that first shed the national spotlight on him eight years prior declaring: "We're not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum or our individual ambitions and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America."

    World leaders heaped praise and congratulations on the victorious president. British Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted congratulations to his "great friend" via social media but also officially stated the following: "I have really enjoyed working with him over these last few years and I look forward to working with him again over the next four years. French President Francois Hollande intimated that Obama's re-election victory was "an important moment for the United States and also for the world." German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: "I want to offer my warm congratulations to the re-elected President Barack Obama. We know each other well and I also look forward to cooperating with respect to stabilizing the trans-Atlantic relationship between the German federal government and the United States of America. But also between the European Union and the United States of America." Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen of the NATO military alliance conveyed "warm congratulations" and praised President Obama for "outstanding leadership" in the realm of Euro-American relations. A spokesperson for Vladimir Putin said the Russian president viewed Obama's re-election victory "very positively" and had dispatched a congratulatory telegram to Washington D.C. Finally, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to work with Obama "to ensure the interests that are vital for the security of Israel's citizens," while Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas offered congratulations.

    U.S. Senate

    Going into Election 2012, Democrats and two Democratic-allied Independents controlled 53 seats; Republicans held 47 seats. In 2012, there were more Democrats up for re-election compared with the Republicans, who were hoping to wrest control of the upper chamber. But at the end of the day, the Democrats not only retained control over Senate, they actually bolstered their numbers. Now, Democrats and two Democratic-allied Independents would control 55 seats, while Republicans were reduced to 45 seats. The upper chamber would now have the largest number of female Senators in United States history. Of those female Senators, two would soon be known as trailblazers of sorts -- one would be the first ever openly-gay Senator (Baldwin), and the other would be the first female Asian Senator in the country (Hirono).

    The breakdown of the Senate races were as follows:

    The following seats remained safely in Republican hands --

    Wicker of Mississippi
    Cruz of Texas
    Corker of Tennessee
    Barrosso of Wyoming
    Hatch of Utah.

    The following lone seat switched from Democratic to Republican hands --

    Nebraska: Republican candidate, Deb Fisher, easily won this state against Democratic former Senator Bob Kerrey.

    The following "toss up" races ended with the Republican candidates holding onto these Republican seats --

    Arizona: Republican Jeff Flake narrowly defeated Democrat Richard Carmona
    Nevada: Republican Dean Heller narrowly defeated Democrat Shelley Berkeley

    The following "toss up" races ended with the Democratic candidates holding onto these Democratic seats --

    Connecticut: Democrat Chris Murphy decisively defeated Republican Linda McMahon
    Florida: Democrat Bill Nelson won a clear victory over Republican Connie Mack
    Missouri: Democrat Claire McCaskill defeated Republican Todd Akin
    Montana: Democrat Jon Tester defeated Republican Dennis Rehberg
    North Dakota: Democrat Heidi Heitekamp narrowly won over Republican Rick Berg
    Ohio: Democrat Sherrod Brown won over Republican JOsh Mandel
    Pennsylvania: Democrat Bob Casey won over Republican Tom Smith
    Wisconsin: Democrat Tammy Baldwin handily defeated Republican Tommy Thompson
    Virginia: Democrat Tim Kaine defeated Republican George Allen

    The following "toss up" races ended as Democratic "pick ups" from the Repulicans --

    Indiana: Democratic candidate, Joe Donnelly, defeated Republican Tea Party favorite, Richard Mourdock
    Massachusetts: Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren won a decisive victory over Republican Scott Brown
    Maine: Independent Angus King easily won this seat, formerly held by Republican Snowe; he was expected to caucus with Democrats

    The following seats remained safely in Democratic hands --

    California: Feinstein
    Delaware: Carper
    Hawaii: Hirono
    Maryland: Cardin
    Michigan: Stabenow
    Minnesota: Kloubouchar
    New Mexico: Heinrich
    New Jersey: Menendez
    New York: Gillibrand
    Rhode Island: Whitehouse
    Vermont: Sanders (technically an independent)
    Washington: Cantwell
    West Virginia: Manchin

    U.S. House of Representatives

    Republicans retained control over the House of Representatives.

    Going into Election 2012, Republicans controlled 240 of 435 seats in the House of Representatives, Democrats controlled 193. Two seats were vacant. 218 seats would be needed for control of the chamber, meaning Democrats need a net gain of 25 seats to retake the House. That was expected to be a tough hurdle for the Democrats to cross, even in a presidential year with a popular Democratic president at the top of the ticket.

    Ahead of a final tally, CountryWatch estimated that the composition of the lower chamber after the election would be roughly 234 seats for Republicans and 201 seats for the Democrats (+/- 4 seats). 

    In keeping with expectations,  the Republicans held onto control of the House of Representatives, albeit with a reduced majority. The final composition of the lower chamber after the election was consistent with CountryWatch's stated prediction for the lower chamber -- 234 seats for Republicans and 201 seats for the Democrats.


    --Dr. Denise  Coleman, Editor in Chief, www.countrywatch.com

       (Last updated on Nov.26, 2012) 

     

    X
    X
    Your subscription status: (products you have access to)
    Country Reviews CountryWatch Maps
    Country Wire Culture Watch
    Country Data CountryWatch Videos
    Political Intelligence Briefing Elections Central
    Intelligence Wire Forecast
    Global Guide Political Intelligence Zone
    Country Briefing