Reporting Tim Kephart
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Despite leading in some national polls, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is still struggling to best President Barack Obama in several of the most critical swing states needed to win the Electoral College.
Florida is typically one of the most crucial states in the election, but has not been nearly the focus of the campaigns as Ohio. Still, Florida is leaning Republican with Romney holding a 1.8 percent lead according to a RealClearPolitics.com average and the New York Times puts the race for Florida squarely in Romney’s column.
But, no Republican presidential candidate has ever won the White House without carrying the swing state of Ohio. Both candidates have been in the state more than almost any other state during the final months of the campaign, but Romney hasn’t been able to overtake President Obama in the state.
According to realclearpolitics, Obama has a cumulative lead of 1.7 points after you average out several of the most recent polls of likely voters in the state. The Huffington Post pollster average puts Obama’s lead at 2 points. Meanwhile, according to Nate Silver of the New York Times, Obama has a 70 percent chance of winning Ohio.
Nevada, another swing state Romney could use to help win the White House, also shows a persistent lead for the president. The RCP average stands at 2.8 percent through Tuesday while Silver’s forecast gives Obama a 73 percent chance of winning the state.
Iowa, which went for President Bush in 2004 and then switched to Obama in 2008, also gives Obama a slight 2 point edge in the RCP average. Silver’s forecast model puts Obama’s chances of winning the Hawkeye State at 64 percent as of Tuesday.
One state that could end up deciding the election, besides Ohio, could be Virginia. The state went for Obama in 2008, but has been split almost equally in 2012. Obama dominates in the northern areas of the state, while Romney dominates in the more rural southern parts of the state.
All of the polling those is extremely fluid as much of it will depend on voter turnout for Obama. He enjoyed a near record turnout in 2008 and will need much of the same coalition he had then to take the White House again.
Romney has locked up the South and the Plains states, while Obama has the West Coast, Northeast, and much of the upper Midwest and Great Lakes area. If Obama wins Ohio, Iowa, and Nevada, plus the other states that are solidly behind him, there’s almost no chance of Romney taking the White House.
But, it’s very possible that Romney could win the popular vote and still not win the Electoral College vote. The last time that happened was in 2000 when Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College vote to George W. Bush.
In the end, it’s the Electoral College math that will win the White House, not momentum. So far, the math