, WASHINGTON, Nov 5 – The White House race has narrowed to a fight over less than 10 states ahead of Tuesday’s tight election between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
Obama’s strategy, with a final day of campaigning to go, is to solidify his last line of defence in the industrial Midwest, and to try to pluck away several insurance states from Romney’s target list elsewhere.
The Republican challenger trails the president in polls in many of the battleground states but retains a narrow and plausible path to the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.
Romney’s camp also argues that the challenger may not even be behind, claiming that state polls are based on unrealistic assumptions of the size of the Democratic slice of the electorate and underplay Republican enthusiasm.
Here is the state of play in swing states that will decide whether Obama wins a second term, or Romney recaptures the White House for Republicans.
The number of electoral votes each state has is in brackets.
– OBAMA’S LAST LINE OF DEFENSE –
If Obama wins Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa, and avoids any upsets on his turf, he is all but certain to become only the second Democrat to win two White House terms since World War II.
Romney spent months trying to tear the president’s Midwestern “firewall” but was hampered by an Obama advertising blitz hammering him as a wealthy plutocrat who disdains the middle class.
In most recent polls, Obama led Ohio between two and five points, an ominous sign for Romney, as no Republican since the Civil War has lost the state and gone on to win the White House.
Obama touts his bailout of the indebted auto industry in 2009 and Romney’s opposition to it, as one-in-eight jobs in the state are linked to the sector.
His team believes that Romney has undermined his hopes in Ohio by running an ad warning that Chrysler will outsource production of its Jeep vehicles to China, a charge the company’s CEO has said is false.
Obama leads an average of polls in Ohio by the RealClearPolitics (RCP) website by 2.8 percent.
Wisconsin has been solid Democratic territory for years: the last time a Republican won the state was Ronald Reagan in 1984.
But Republicans, who managed to repel an attempt by Democrats to oust Governor Scott Walker in a recall election this year, have a solid ground game in the state, and Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan is a local boy.
The president leads the RCP average by 4.2 percent.
Where it all started for Obama. The president built his grass roots operation in the agricultural heartland state and believes that after carving out an advantage in early voting, he has the edge on Romney.
Obama leads the RCP average in Iowa by 2.5 percent.