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.
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.
U.S. 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.
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 Wednesday night in Denver.