New Mexico, with its large Hispanic population, Democratic-leaning Minnesota and quirky New Hampshire still look like tossups, but some of the other key 13 states donít.
Given Obamaís job ratings, the publicís dissatisfaction with the countryís direction and the state of the economy, itís difficult to imagine him winning the two big prizes, Ohio and Florida, again. Both states traditionally have preferred the GOP nominee when Democrats are on the defensive, as they will be next year. Thatís 47 Electoral College votes for Romney.
Two Southern states, Virginia and North Carolina, could be competitive, but itís certainly a stretch to call them tossups. Unlike 2008, Obama isnít a blank-slate agent for change. Both states lean toward Romney, who would likely have enough appeal in the suburbs and among white independents to give him an edge. That is an additional 28 Electoral College votes for Romney.
Winning those four states would put Romney at 266 electoral votes, just four shy of the magic number.
The most obvious candidate for pushing Romney over the top is Colorado (9 electoral votes), Iowa (6) or Nevada (6).
Obama won 53.7 percent of Coloradoís vote in 2008, but the Democratic nominee took only 47 percent in 2004 and 42.4 percent in 2000. This time, Obama will struggle with independent voters because he wonít benefit from the publicís dissatisfaction with the incumbent president. That makes him an underdog in the state.
Unless the president can change the current political dynamic, he could well lose most or all of the remaining competitive states to Romney, who has enough appeal among swing voters to help him carry those states.
For now, then, Romney has a slight electoral vote advantage over the president.
Stuart Rothenberg is editor of the Rothenberg Political Report.