Following a strong performance in the first presidential debate, Romney has completely erased Obama’s September lead while also seeing a growth in favorable ratings. Michigan and Pennsylvania remain likely wins for Obama, but the latest swing state polls of Florida and Virginia indicate voters in each state are moving towards Romney.
Florida polls show voters in the state slightly favor the Republican challenger, with Rasmussen showing a 4pt lead and Public Policy Polling indicating a 1pt Romney lead. Both New Hampshire and North Carolina are now considered toss-ups.
And it appears Romney has opened up a 22-point lead among rural voters in swing states.
If Romney is able to win Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, and Ohio, he will be just four electoral votes shy of the 270 necessary to win, notes Mark Halperin of Time. With a win in each of these Southern battleground states, Obama would be left at 237 electoral votes and Romney would only need to claim one more swing state.
Regarded as a must-win for presidential candidates, Obama needs Ohio’s 18 electoral votes, along with Nevada’s six to pave a safe path to victory.
One senior Democratic official has expressed concern over a win in Ohio slipping away from Obama. Mark Halperin of Time noted, the Buckeye State has recently trended Republican in statewide races, including a win by two of Romney’s top strategists, “Rob Portman has become a force, religious and gun groups are flooding the state with voter contacts.”
But Obama is still at an advantage in Nevada, where Hispanic and African-American voters account for nearly a quarter of the vote.
Tonight, the pressure is on Obama to capture a win in the second presidential debate at Hofstra University. It could just mean halting the post-debate surge Romney has benefited from. Given another poor performance, winning Nevada and Ohio could be Obama’s only path to a second term.