Obama within reach of second term

2012-09-30 22:42

Des Moines - Five weeks to election day, President Barack Obama is within reach of the 270 electoral votes needed to win a second term. Republican Mitt Romney's path to victory is narrowing.

To overtake Obama, Romney would need to quickly gain the upper hand in nearly all of the nine states where he and Obama are competing the hardest.

Polls show the president with a steady lead in many of them as Romney looks to shift the dynamics of the race, starting with their first debate on Wednesday in Denver.

"We'd rather be us than them," says Jennifer Psaki, an Obama spokesperson.

But Romney's running mate Paul Ryan says there's time for the Republican ticket to win. "In these kinds of races people focus near the end, and that's what's happening now," he told Fox News Sunday.

If the election were held today, an Associated Press analysis shows Obama would win at least 271 electoral votes, with likely victories in crucial Ohio and Iowa along with 19 other states and the District of Columbia. Romney would win 23 states for a total of 206.

To oust the Democratic incumbent, Romney would need to take up-for-grabs Florida, Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina, New Hampshire and Virginia, which would put him at 267 votes, and upend Obama in either Ohio or Iowa.

US presidents are elected not by national popular vote but in state-by-state contests. Each state gets one electoral vote for each of its representatives in the House and Senate. There are 538 votes in the Electoral College, and a candidate must have at least 270 to win.

Except for Maine and Nebraska, states award all their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the state.

47% do not pay tax

The AP analysis isn't meant to be predictive. Rather, it is intended to provide a snapshot of a race that until recently has been stubbornly close in the small number of the most contested states.

It is based on a review of public and private polls, television advertising and numerous interviews with campaign and party officials as well as Republican and Democratic strategists in the competitive states and in Washington.

In the final weeks before the 6 November vote, Obama is enjoying a burst of momentum and has benefited from growing optimism about the economy as well as a series of Romney stumbles. Most notably, a secret video surfaced recently showing the Republican nominee telling a group of wealthy donors that 47% of Americans pay no federal income taxes and consider themselves victims dependent on the government.

To be sure, much could change in the coming weeks, which will feature three presidential and one vice presidential debate. A host of unknowns, both foreign and domestic, could rock the campaign, knocking Obama off course and giving Romney a boost in the homestretch.

Barring that, Romney's challenge is formidable.

Obama started the campaign with a slew of electoral vote-rich coastal states like New York and California already in his win column. From the outset, Romney faced fewer paths to cobbling together the state-by-state victories needed to reach the magic number.

It's grown even narrower in recent weeks, as Romney has seen his standing slip in polls in Ohio, with 18 electoral votes, and Iowa, with six. That forced him to abandon plans to try to challenge Obama on traditionally Democratic turf so he could redouble his efforts in Ohio and Iowa, as well as Colorado, Florida, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Nevada and Virginia.

Romney is hoping that come Election Day, on-the-fence voters tip his way. But there are hurdles there, too.

Early voting is under way in dozens of states, and national and key state surveys show undecided voters feel more favourably toward Obama than Romney.

Ohio edge

The Republican is in a tight battle with Obama in Florida, as well as in Colorado, North Carolina and Nevada.

But Ohio's shifting landscape illustrates Romney's troubles over the past few weeks.

Republicans and Democrats agree that Obama's solid lead in public and private polling in the state is for real. Over the past month, the president has benefited from an improving economic situation in the state; its 7.2% unemployment rate is below the 8.1% national average.

Obama's team also attributes his Ohio edge to the auto industry bailout and General Motors plant expansions in eastern Ohio.

Obama and his campaign have hammered Romney on his tax policies, arguing that the former Massachusetts governor favours the rich while the president is a defender of everyone else.

The president has seen the same good fortune in Iowa. A poll released on Saturday by The Des Moines Register illustrates his advantage, showing Obama with 49%t to 45% for Romney. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

"It's a direct result of the time and resources he's been forced to spend here," Iowa Republican strategist John Stineman said.

Indeed, Obama intently focused on the state ahead of an early voting period that began last week. He campaigned in Iowa aggressively this summer and dumped in a ton of TV advertising, much of it depicting Romney as wealthy and out-of-touch with working Americans.

Obama doesn't just have the wind at his back in those states.

Sign of trouble

The president also appears to be in stronger shape than Romney in Virginia, which has 13 electoral votes, and in New Hampshire, with four votes, even though Romney vacations often in the northeastern state where he has a lakeside home.

Romney and his allies are being outspent in that state considerably, a sign of trouble for the Republican challenger.

Underscoring his challenges, Romney also has been forced to spend millions of dollars a week defending himself in North Carolina, a Republican-leaning state that's more conservative than most of the states that will decide the election.

Polls now show a competitive race there. Democrats boast of having registered 250 000 new voters in the state since April 2011. It's an eye-popping total in a state that Obama won by just 14 000 votes four years ago. A flood of new voters, presumably a chunk of them Democrats, could help keep that state within Obama's reach this year.

Also, Romney's effort to challenge Obama in Democratic-leaning Wisconsin, home state of his running mate, US Representative Paul Ryan, appears to have fizzled. Despite millions of dollars spent on TV in the last few weeks by both sides, polls show Obama with a clear lead in Wisconsin.

Romney's goal of forcing Obama to defend Michigan - Romney's native state - and Pennsylvania never materialized.

"The big strategic moment coming out of the conventions in my view was whether or not Romney and his campaign could succeed in expanding the parameters of the battleground," said Tad Devine, a top adviser to 2000 Democratic nominee Al Gore and 2004 nominee John Kerry. "They have not been able to do that."

All this has left Romney with an extraordinarily tight path and few options but to bear down in the states where he is competing aggressively. Time, though, is running out.

  • Solly Mmakola - 2012-10-01 02:18

    I salute you comrade Obama for proving millions of people wrong who misdirected themselves that blacks are incapable. You are my inspiration.

      louiseroger.higham - 2012-10-01 06:09

      Oh so he's black, I say he's white.

      beki.khumalo - 2012-10-01 07:17

      @Spillies, you have absolutely no clue what it means to be black and endure all sorts of racial insults based on ill-imformed stereotypes. To always have to defend yourself because some think that your skin colour makes you a rapist, a thief, corrupt and primitive etc. So yes, it's about race and it will always be about race for as long as we, blacks, find the need to defend ourselves. It is with pride that we look to good black leaders as they are fine example of that we are all equal. That skin colour doesn't make other people better human beings than us! You should not judge us until you walk a mile in our shoes!

      jaba.kov - 2012-10-01 07:20

      If Americans were like you Solly - they wouldn’t have voted in a 'black' man in the first place. Luckily, Americans can see further than you racial addictions and vote for the 'right' person rather than the man's skin colour. Imagine if South Africa voted for the ‘right’ person rather then a corrupt comrade. Personally I’m not fond of Romany or Obama... but as they say, better the devil you know - so Obama would be my choice... sadly a further 10 trillion dollars will be added to the American deficit in the next 4 years... which will negatively affect the next generations for a very long time - even in sunny South Africa. Obama is not being elected because he was good – but rather because there is not better alternative… Obama will still be written in the history books as one of America’s weakest presidents.

      Willie - 2012-10-01 09:14

      @ solly mmakola, Louiseroger.higham,Guy hankinson you guys you just don't get it race cards all the time is not working. For your information guys America is got over 300million people almost 50m are of African decent, you can already see that race card does not play here

  • beki.khumalo - 2012-10-01 07:18

    @Spillies, you have absolutely no clue what it means to be black and endure all sorts of racial insults based on ill-imformed stereotypes. To always have to defend yourself because some think that your skin colour makes you a rapist, a thief, corrupt and primitive etc. So yes, it's about race and it will always be about race for as long as we, blacks, find the need to defend ourselves. It is with pride that we look to good black leaders as they are fine example of that we are all equal. That skin colour doesn't make other people better human beings than us! You should not judge us until you walk a mile in our shoes!

      spillies - 2012-10-01 07:41

      Beki, I am not being a racist and understand more than you think. Some of my best friends are Black People. All I am trying to say is that we should stop looking at color. Words like \comrade\ and \brother\ and \struggle\ are just very irritating and does not have to be mentioned in any civilized conversation. Why \strugglel\? The \struggle \ is over. We are all South Africans and should forget about color as that only leads to hatred on both sides. Why exclude Whites by terms like \brother\ or even worse, \comrades\. Comrades is out of fashion previous Communist terms. The White people may not use Apartheid terms (which I agree with), but, hell, stop using words and phrases that alienate Whites from Blacks. The fact that I think Obama is not the best, has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with color. AND THAT is the point I'm trying to make. I don't want to anger or alienate you or any race for that matter. We are all the same before God.

      beki.khumalo - 2012-10-01 07:47

      Thank you for the clarity Spillies, much better. Now I understand what you mean and I agree with you on the use of certain phrases...

  • Guy Hankinson - 2012-10-01 07:24

    He's actually colored, his moms white...

  • robbie.crouch - 2012-10-01 07:41

    Media spin...

  • sazi.radebe - 2012-10-01 07:51

    Ag here we go again.. South African racists at each others throats again. News24 comments are getting really boring

      spillies - 2012-10-01 08:06

      I totally agree with you Sazi. They are so transparent. Can't we just be South Africans that don't have a \them\ and an \us\?

  • spillies - 2012-10-01 07:57

    @simplysouthafrican. I have no idea which point you are trying to make. Are you attacking me as person, because you can not debate? \My intelect (sic) shows\, but heck, your spelling!!!! Please stick to debating the point and not the person, if you can.

  • sagren.narain - 2012-10-01 07:58

    So far nobody has told us why they think Obama is a bad president. Hmmmm I wonder why ?? - maybe you a$$h0les dont know or maybe he is a good president and also you aSSh0les dont know why. You buggers are all predjudiced - I am predjudiced too - I dont like A$$h0les.

      jaba.kov - 2012-10-01 08:55

      Americans have been asked if they are better off now than they were 4 years ago? Over 80% of the people said no! And neither is the global economy – even in SA. He has alienated America’s best friends while opening the door to new dangerous fundamentalists’ regimes. He has an appeasement policy while being head of the free world. He has a vision and it is not shared by the people. In the US, 26 States suing over his health-care failure. A failed energy policy. He increased the ethanol mandate raising corn from 2.00 to 6.00 plus a bushel making food more costly for the whole world. But the biggest problem is this: You may love him or hate him - but you DO NOT know him - youtube America 2016 and see why. There is no account of his childhood in his life story and that has raised many red flags. The reason why I would vote for him: 1) because I do not trust Romney. 2) Because he killed Osama Bin Laden & eliminated several other Al-Qaeda leaders. 3) He appointed two pro-choice women to the Supreme Court… and other stuff I would vote for Obama because there is no better alternative. Plz watch America2016 - Film based on a New York Times Bestseller about President Barack Obama, by Dinesh D'Souza.

  • peterhmason - 2012-10-01 08:11

    What a tragedy for the US, fake ID and policies that have left the country in financial ruin.

  • peterhmason - 2012-10-01 08:13

    What a tragedy for the US if he gets a second term, fake ID and policies that have left the country in financial ruin.

  • diana.gill.18 - 2012-10-01 08:24

    God help America if Obama wins but god help the rest of the world if the mormon becomes a president.

      mzakes.matabata - 2012-10-01 08:44

      i don't know if you have noticed but obama has been president for the last 4 years and the US is better of then when bush was in charge. Who's financial policies created the US economic melt down? and who fixed it?

      jaba.kov - 2012-10-01 08:57

      Agree...the American election is like a vegetarian going to the Meat Company for supper - nothing to pick.

      diana.gill.18 - 2012-10-01 09:22

      @mzakes i believe it will be rather difficult to explain all the benefits of Obama's presidency to the OWS protesters. Never mind the number of casualties that US military forces have suffered due to multiple foreign campaigns is prevailing over the losses in army under the rule of mr. Drunken Cowboy.

      valkyriaza - 2012-10-01 12:59

      Obama may not be as weak as people think. The problem is that the drunken cowboy stuffed up US so badly both foreign policy-wise and financially, it will take decades for US to get out of debt, fix its foreign policy and hopefully shake the impossibly strong grips major corporations have on the government. It may not be Obama, but it is certainly not Romney

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