The neck-and-neck polls look good for GOP candidate Mitt Romney but hide President Barack Obama’s electoral vote advantage.
The latest polls continue to show that more Americans are displeased with Obama as president than those who think he is doing a good job. Virtually all polls show potential voters evenly divided, with a small gap either way falling within the margin or error of polls.
But the America system of electoral votes – whereby even a one-vote win in any given state gives the winner all of the “electoral college” votes – shows President Obama with a decent lead.
The more populous the state, the more electoral votes it has. The system leaves several large states that are not solidly behind either candidate the “swing states” that could decide the election in November.
However, Obama is comfortably ahead in the “certain” states, with a lead of 242 to 150 among 538 electoral votes.
The missing 146 votes are in 12 “swing states,” of which Florida and Ohio are the largest. Romney needs to win almost all 12 to gain the needed 270 electoral votes to unlock the White House door.
President Obama leads Romney by a thin 2 percent margin in the 12 states, meaning that if elections were held today, Romney might be close to winning a majority of the popular vote, but the electoral college system for the time being leaves President Obama safely in the White House.
Two keys factors, besides any surprise events, could determine who wins: Iran and the unemployment vote.
Iran is a wild card, and the Obama administration clearly is trying to silence any furor over any imminent threat of an attack on its nuclear facilities or on the possibility that it may soon gain nuclear capability.
Unemployment is the overwhelming factor now. The U.S. economy is struggling to keep its ahead above recession level; and a worsening of the 8.2 percent jobless rate, which is reported every month, could be disastrous for him. On the other hand, an improvement could clinch a defeat for Romney.