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Charlie Sykes: Sykes Writes

Rasmussen: Wisconsin May Be The New Ohio

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It all comes down to cheeseheads.


Most national polls show Romney with a very slight lead of around 2 percentage points.

Still, it's Obama who has the edge in the Electoral College. Rasmussen Reports currently projects that the president should win states with 237 Electoral College votes. Romney has enough states to win 235. Those projections assume Florida and North Carolina end up in the GOP column -- an assumption the Obama campaign contests.

That leaves seven toss-up states -- Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Hampshire, Colorado and Nevada.

To move into the White House, Romney absolutely needs to win Virginia's 13 electoral votes. If he can accomplish that goal, he just needs to win Ohio and one other swing state to reach the magic number of 270 for victory.

Romney has never led in Ohio according to scores of public polls. The numbers in the Buckeye State so far suggest that the race is either tied or leaning slightly in Obama's favor.

If Ohio goes for the president, Romney has a few perilous paths to victory available to him. All require him to carry Wisconsin and its 10 Electoral College votes.

The simplest path without Ohio would be for Romney to win Wisconsin, Colorado and one other swing state. It's plausible, but an uphill struggle. The latest Rasmussen Reports polling in Wisconsin shows the president up by 2 points.

Despite the polls, some conservative activists in Wisconsin think it's possible to pull off an upset. They point out that, unlike Ohio, the state was not flooded with anti-Romney ads over the summer (in Wisconsin, they were still fighting about the governor's election recall at the time). That means more voters may be open to supporting the GOP candidate.

Additionally, in Ohio, almost all analysts believe the Democrats have a better ground game to get voters to the polls. That's not the case in Wisconsin. The Republican ground game got a good and very successful dry run during the recall election in June. And, of course, the man on the ticket with Romney is from Wisconsin. If Paul Ryan is able to pull in just a few extra votes, it could make a lot of difference.

On election night, the first places to watch will be Virginia and Florida. If Romney wins there, watch Ohio. If the president wins Ohio, Wisconsin is likely to be the decisive battleground state of Election 2012.



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