Depending on which political analyst people listen to, opinions will vary on which state is the most critical in the 2012 presidential election. The three most common states mentioned are Ohio, Virginia, and Florida.
Ohio and Florida are always considered to be important in any presidential election. Florida is a crucial battleground state with twenty-nine electoral votes up for grabs and Ohio has a perfect record in voting with the overall winning candidate. With how the electoral math works, the state’s eighteen electoral votes can make all of the difference.
All of the states that are currently labeled “toss ups” will be important to watch on election night. However, one could easily make the argument that the most crucial swing state for both mainstream candidates in this election is Virginia. It is especially important for Mitt Romney.
It is commonly accepted that there are eleven battleground or swing states in 2012: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
If people take the average for the major statewide polls conducted in each state, Obama currently has a big advantage. Yet, his leads remain within the margin of error in several states. He will likely take Pennsylvania and, according to current data, he is looking strong in Wisconsin and Michigan. North Carolina is leaning Republican at the moment. With the Real Clear Politics data, this is what the electoral map looks like:
Ohio, Virginia, Florida, and Colorado will likely be the most interesting races to watch. Nevada looks like it is leaning more towards Obama at the moment and Romney has a slight lead in Florida. If the electoral map is colored in to give Obama Nevada then Romney would have to win all of the remaining battleground states to win the election without Virginia.
Romney could win Florida, Ohio, and Colorado and still lose the election if he can't secure Virginia. Voters in Virginia, specifically northern Virginia, could easily decide the 2012 presidential election. Mitt Romney's hope of being elected the next President of the United States will be diminished significantly if Barack Obama wins the state.
The electoral map graphic says it all. Even losing New Hampshire to Obama will cost Romney the race if he cannot secure Virginia. This could be the first election Ohio fails to vote with the overall winner. That is, if the Romney/Ryan campaign can manage to pull off a victory in the state. President Obama can win without Virginia if he can secure Ohio, where is he currently ahead slightly in statewide polls. Romney would have to reverse polling trends in some states to be in a position to win without the Old Dominion.
This is a close race. It has been a hard fought race by both presidential campaigns. It has been an ugly race and many people across the country are experiencing voter fatigue, because they are ready for this election cycle to be over. Voter participation is fueled by motivation and perception drives motivation. Voter turnout will likely be significantly lower than 2008 and possibly even 2004.
For political enthusiasts, pundits, and analysts, election night is going to be a long night. It will be one of the closest presidential elections Americans have seen in many years and it will be worth watching every minute of it. The next four years for America, the path the nation follows, will be decided in less than five days.