A new ABC News/Washington Post poll puts Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney at 50% against 47% for President Barack Obama. While the poll's margin of error is 3%, it does mark the first time this particular poll has had Romney crossing the 50% mark. Those surveyed credit Romney with being more capable when it comes to economic issues. The poll includes 57% support among Independent voters who could decide crucial battleground states in the final weeks of the election.
The latest CNN interactive electoral map, however, has President Obama ahead of Republican challenger Mitt Romney by 31 electoral votes with less than two weeks to go before the election. Obama has 237 electoral votes with CNN now projecting wins for the President in Pennsylvania, Michigan and New Mexico. Gov. Romney has 206 with CNN giving him the states of North Carolina and Arizona. Considered together, however, the poll and map open up the possibility Romney could win the popular vote November 6th and lose the Electoral College, which actually elects the President. That hasn't happened since Al Gore lost to George W. Bush in 2000 even though he won a majority of the popular vote.
Just 95 electoral votes remain up for grabs according the CNN's analysis, and as the pool of battleground states shrinks, the strategies of each campaign until election day are becoming more clear.
For the President, the clearest path to re-election is simple. If he wins Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa, he wins the election with 271 electoral votes. The latest polls show him ahead in all three states, but with his leads narrowing in Ohio and Wisconsin. An analysis of several recent polls in Ohio by CNN gives Obama a 48%-45% lead. A Marquette Law School poll in Wisconsin gives the President just a 49%-48% lead there, although an NBC News/Wall St. Journal poll taken the same week shows the President ahead by a 51%-45% margin.
For Romney, the path to the Presidency is steeper. He narrowly leads in Florida, a state he cannot realistically afford to lose. Ohio is also a key state for him, where he trails in the polls but has a reasonable chance of winning . In 2004, Democratic nominee John Kerry led in Ohio polls up to election day but lost the state in incumbant Republican President George W. Bush.
Should Romney take both Florida and Ohio, that puts him at 253 electoral votes, meaning he would need to take a minimum of two and perhaps as many as four as four of the remaining battleground states of New Hampshire, Virginia, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado and Nevada. If he loses Ohio, he can still win, but only by taking the larger states of Virginia and Wisconsin and a combination of smaller states, a result that would be highly implausible.
You can find the ABC News/Washington Post poll here:
You can find the CNN interactive map here: