Here’s where the race stands with five days left, as President Obama returns to the campaign trail after canceling his events the last several days for Hurricane Sandy. Remember that among the 41 states that are considered safe for either candidate, Obama has 237 electoral votes, Romney 191. Nine states with a combined 110 electoral votes are up for grabs.
Obama’s path to 270: Polls over the last two days have continued to show Obama ahead in Ohio, which is the state both campaigns are saying is very critical to victory. Combining that with his consistent leads in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and Wisconsin, and the president would collect 281 electoral votes even if he lost the remaining four states. And he seems to be almost even in Colorado, Florida and Virginia. North Carolina is the only one of the nine states Obama has a relatively low shot of winning on Election Day. (Obama has narrow advantages in Wisconsin and New Hampshire, and a six-point lead in Iowa according to new NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist College polls)
Romney’s path to 270: If Romney wins North Carolina, as expected, he still need to carry the three states where the candidates are essentially tied (Colorado, Florida and Virginia) and one of the places where Obama is the favorite. The clearest path is Ohio, but if he loses there, he could win if he carried Iowa and Wisconsin, a much more unlikely scenario.
The ex-factors: We don’t know if pollsters are overstating Obama’s strength in Ohio, but he has led in all but one of the last nine surveys of the state. A jobs report being released on Friday will get extensive press coverage, although it’s not clear how many voters it will affect, as unemployment has long been high.