|New Jersey – 14
People always talk about last-minute maneuvering that can make or break a close election, and while President Obama has avoided turning the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy into a soapbox issue, his handling of emergency efforts has been received with bipartisan praise, including a ringing endorsement from governor and rabid Republican attack dog Chris Christie. Advantage: Obama.
|New Mexico – 5
After all the talk in the Republican primaries about sky-high fences, crocodile moats and every other arcane method of defending against an “immigrant siege” (including enlistment), it’s unlikely the Hispanic population, which makes up almost half the population of New Mexico, is going to side with the likes of Mitt Romney, no matter how ineffectively he tried to walk it all back. Advantage: Obama.
|New York – 29
Upstate New York, with its conservative values, its leaves and country homes and picturesque small towns is simply no match for the more liberal metropolis of New York City. The boroughed city was likely leaning left anyway, but with Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s endorsement of Obama in response to the emergency efforts enacted after Hurricane Sandy, the Excelsior State, with its 29 electors, should line up nicely behind the president. Advantage: Obama.
|North Carolina – 15
Back in May, North Carolinians voted for a statewide ban on gay marriage, an issue that has been pressed to the forefront in this election and one that Obama in recent weeks has begun to champion rather than rescind. In doing so, he may have rallied the evangelical vote against him, forfeiting the half percentage point he carried North Carolina with in 2008. Advantage: Romney.
|North Dakota – 3
Romney, despite his many gaffes, is no clown. He knows what tree he’s barking up when he speaks highly of state- and federal-funded energy subsidies. North Dakota has recently stumbled into a treasure trove of shale gas, and Romney’s green energy and growth rhetoric has got the Peace Garden State’s attention. Advantage: Romney.
|Ohio – 18
Even short two Electoral College votes after 2010’s reapportioning, Ohio is the ultimate swing state and has a psychic seerlike track record; the state has voted for the eventual winner in every election year save 1960, when they gave Nixon the nod over JFK. As in the other Midwestern states, Obama’s popularity comes from the metropolitan city centers; if he can mobilize that vote, Ohio should stay blue. Advantage: Obama.
|Oklahoma – 7
When a Democratic incumbent running essentially unopposed garners only 57 percent of the primary vote in a state, you know you’re in trouble. This is Republican country through and through; Romney is a lock to win Oklahoma’s seven Electoral College votes. Advantage: Romney.
|Oregon – 7
Though Oregon’s recent history has them down as a blue state, it’s been close and Obama’s double-digit cushion from 2008 has been slashed to about six points according to recent polls. Since registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in Oregon that’s no surprise; what will be is if the unaffiliated voters, who currently favor Romney 35 to 17 percent, turn out to vote en masse and upset. Still…. Advantage: Obama.
|Pennsylvania – 20
With 20 Electoral College votes and the Democrats just eking out victories in the state in the past few elections, Pennsylvania remains a swing state, although one favoring Obama. He polls well in the city centers like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, but his rural support is waning behind weak policy decisions that affect the small coal-mining towns that make up the state. But if the Democrats can ensure high voter turnout in the urban areas, they should be able to carry the 20 electors. Advantage: Obama.
Tally: Barack Obama - 252, Mitt Romney - 169